Curriculum, How To

Get to Know our Educator of the Year, Lizzet Austin!

Last week, we had the pleasure of announcing the winner and honorable mentions of our first-ever Educator of the Year Contest. We had so many great applicants, but after several rounds of voting by the entire Progress Learning company, we narrowed it down to one grand prize winner: Lizzet Austin, a teacher at Alamo Elementary in Goose Creek Consolidated ISD in Texas.

We recently met up with Mrs. Austin to get to know her better, learn about her personal teaching journey, and talk about the challenges she’s faced and the lessons she’s learned over her career.

Personal Journey & Challenges

Mrs. Austin grew up as a non-native English speaker in Houston, Texas. She was one of the few students who spoke Spanish in her school and faced many challenges because of it. This experience inspired her to become a bilingual educator and help other students like herself.

She has now been an educator at Alamo Elementary for 13 years, primarily teaching third and fourth grades in a bilingual setting. She serves as a teacher at the New Arrival Center for first-year immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries where she is focused on closing their academic gaps in math and science. In addition, Mrs. Austin is a member of the district Culturally Relevant Teaching team where she advocates for quality instructional resources in English and Spanish.


One of the most important lessons Mrs. Austin has learned over her career is to build relationships with students and parents. Often, parents of New Arrival students are hesitant to attend family nights or community events because of the language barrier. Mrs. Austin makes them feel welcome by reaching out to them right at the start of the school year. Because of her efforts, families often greet her when they see her and students will pop back into her classroom to say hello, even after they’ve graduated!

During our chat, she also talked about the importance of encouraging her students to advocate for themselves. She tells her students to never be afraid to ask for help, and she gets so much joy from watching them grow and succeed.

Teaching Strategies

Mrs. Austin shared some of her favorite classroom management techniques, including setting academic goals and using Kagan strategies. With the Kagan system, students work in teams to build camaraderie and learn collaboratively, instead of just sitting at their desks and listening to the teacher speak. When dealing with challenging students, Mrs. Austin emphasized the importance of patience and communication.

Mrs. Austin also prides herself on using innovative technology in her classroom, and she has used Progress Learning ever since it was introduced at Goose Creek Consolidated ISD. She leads her 4th grade math and science Professional Learning Community, where she uses Progress Learning to close learning gaps with her bilingual and first-year immigrant students. Tools she uses include data trackers to track skills her students have mastered, assignments to provide tailored instruction, and reports to empower students to see their progress. She and her students also love the language tools and visual explanations because it reaches ALL students. 

Thanks to her teaching and use of technology, her Professional Learning Community ranks #1 in the district on district assessments.

Balancing Work and Well-Being

How does Mrs. Austin balance her work and well-being? She shared that having a supportive team and administration at Alamo Elementary is crucial. She wouldn’t be able to do what she does without them. She also shared a clever tip to prioritize tasks when she feels overwhelmed. She explained that she organizes tasks by how impactful they are on the children’s education. For example, the most impactful task is the most urgent, the second most impactful is the second urgent, etc. Finally, she shared that self-care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself as an educator. By respecting her personal time at home, she has been able to manage her workload and maintain all the incredible work she does at Alamo Elementary without stress or burnout.

In the words of Mrs. Austin, “the heart of teaching should always be for the students.” Her innovative spirit, empathetic approach, and unwavering dedication to her students make her an extraordinary educator and leader. 

Congratulations, Mrs. Austin, on winning Progress Learning’s Educator of the Year Award! Your commitment to your students and community is truly inspiring.

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