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Griffin Elementary teacher, Nancy Hess, receiving her Plank Fellowship Award.

May 5, 2010 - Katy, Texas – Nancy Hess’ celebration of National Teacher Day is particularly festive this year. Yesterday morning, during the student-produced morning announcements broadcast on closed circuit television, Hess was presented with Houston’s 2010 Plank Fellowship Award, given in recognition of the inspired implementation of her Fund for Teachers’ fellowship and the continued impact it makes on her teaching practice, her students and her community. Only eight teachers across the country received this distinction, along with the $500 prize. 

In 2007, Nancy capitalized on a Fund for Teachers grant to experience a cultural immersion in England, France, Germany and Austria. Upon her return, she recreated Monet’s most famous garden in her classroom to welcome students on the first day of school. Students dove into the fine arts curriculum to the sound of a working fountain and surrounded by flowers, prints of Monet’s work and photos of the real garden – all beckoning them to come sit on a bench and read a book. 

To introduce students to additional artists and locations, Nancy developed slide shows using the Sistine Chapel, the Louvre and the National Museum in London as examples of how art and music developed over time; built on her experience hearing a Mozart concert in a Salzburg fortress to teach The Magic Flute; and created a culminating activity for the unit – a Living Museum. Each student chose an artist to portray to the school community and created project boards enhancing their performances. Finally, Nancy is in the process of creating an ABC’s of Architecture book based on the elements of design she saw and illustrated with photos taken of the famous European landmarks she visited. 

“My fellowship showed me that as a teacher, I am responsible for bringing information to life,” said Hess. “Seeing my students excited about learning makes me excited about teaching and I’m now motivated to always bring passion and personal experiences into my classroom.”  Please mention you found this www.KatyMagazine.com.

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