SBISD 2021 Teachers of the Year
Elementary Teacher of the Year Kayla Gibson is a teacher dedicated to advocating and raising awareness for her students in the Autism Program Preparing Learners for Excellence (APPLE) program at Hunters Creek Elementary.
A product of Spring Branch ISD, Gibson is a proud Memorial High School graduate. She received her bachelor’s degree in special education from the College of Charleston and began her career in Leander ISD. After moving back to the Houston area, she joined Spring Branch ISD in 2019 to make a difference in the school district that impacted her throughout her childhood.
Gibson has a younger sister who is currently enrolled in Spring Branch ISD’s T.O.P.S. (Transitioning Onward Promotes Success), a work-based learning program for students between the ages of 18 and 21 with disabilities. Gibson describes her sister as having been her biggest light and influence in understanding her calling to teach Special Education, a career Gibson finds extremely rewarding.
Secondary Teacher of the Year Katie Wood-Sponsel is 6th-8th grade social studies and language arts teacher at Spring Branch Academic Institute (SBAI), focused on creating an environment for the highly gifted students there that is engaging, transformative and connected to a broad global context.
With more than 18 years of experience as an educator, all of them in Spring Branch ISD, she has gained experience in every area of curriculum and creates a wealth of unique, engaging experiences for her students which instills in them a true love of history.
For 16 years, Wood-Sponsel was an 8th grade teacher and yearbook advisor at Cornerstone Academy. After going to SBAI in 2019, she expanded her curriculum repertoire, now teaching World Cultures & Geography, Texas History and English Language Arts, in addition to her traditional subject, U.S. History.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in political science from San Diego State University. Upon graduation, she moved to Houston and began her professional journey towards becoming an educator after completing an Alternative Certification Program. Wood-Sponsel is pursuing a master’s degree in American History through Pace University. Her expected completion date is May 2022.
SBISD Teachers of the Year are selected by SBISD stakeholders based on the following criteria:
- Concern for all staff and students and the ability to inspire both of these groups
- Ability and willingness to work cooperatively with all staff and administrators
- Proven drive to initiate and implement effective strategies supporting continuous improvement in student performance
- Ability to work with diverse community groups and all district stakeholders
- Proven desire for continuous personal and professional growth
- Ability and willingness to make meaningful contributions to education