COLLEGE STATION - Susan Alexander, a science teacher at Comanche High School, has been selected to receive the Texas A&M University Inspiration Award for Exceptional Education. Her award will be presented during the university's commencement ceremonies Friday, Aug. 16.
Teachers selected to receive this unusual award - believed to be the first of its type sponsored by any university in Texas - are nominated by one of their former students who is classified as a senior at Texas A&M.
The recipient of the award is recognized during commencement ceremonies at the university, where he or she is presented a check for $2,000. The teacher's high school receives $1,000.
As a university known for valuing excellence, leadership and service, Texas A&M sponsors the award as a way of recognizing those values in the teachers who have inspired and challenged their students to excel, officials note.
Alexander was nominated for the award by a former student, Blanca Flor Guerrero, who will be on hand to see her teacher honored by the university.
Guerrero says Alexander is "an Aggie shining amidst the dust of a predominantly Longhorn/Raider town" and she inspired her to attend Texas A&M. In the small West Texas farming and ranching community, Guerrero says there is not too much interest in careers in engineering, business and liberal arts. "But 'Mrs. A' managed to convince her students they could do anything.
"I most definitely had a hard time believing this, originating from a Hispanic family in my small town where the graduation rates were low and the idea of college even smaller," Guerrero remembers.
Alexander encouraged students to join the Science Olympiad organization and worked to keep the club going by personally helping to finance club projects. "The club meant so much to me because it challenged me in so many ways and allowed me to become a responsible young adult at such a young age so that I became aware and accountable for the rest of the club members and teammates," she adds.
Because of Alexander's support and encouragement, the club was able to come to Texas A&M to compete at the regional and state level. Guerrero recalls that her school was so much smaller than that of the other competitors, and the club members were astonished at the size of Texas A&M, but Alexander was calm and supportive.
"While I was scared, 'Mrs. A' helped me believe in myself and, more importantly, she helped me believe that hard work and dedication would always prevail. Sure enough our small school always won several medals, me included. 'Mrs. A' just always believes that everything is possible," she says.
Guerrero also says she has no doubt that Alexander lives by the Aggie Honor Code: "An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do." She is sure Alexander instilled this code in her students along with the idea of hard work and dedication and challenged them by engaging them in subjects and competitions that most high school aged students would not be willing to consider.
"I know that as long as 'Mrs. A' is in a classroom, she will never stop challenging students or recruiting for Texas A&M. All of my four Science Olympiad friends have successfully graduated from this amazing institution. I will be the last to join them this December and I hope to make her proud and let her know that she truly changed my life."