Educator who strives for greatness named Trinity nominee

Educator who strives for greatness named Trinity nominee

Trinity Prize nominee James Hammond assists
students in his AP literature class.

A second-year teacher already recognized for his leadership both inside and outside the classroom will represent SAISD for one of Bexar County’s most prestigious honors.

James Hammond of Jefferson HS has been selected by a District committee as SAISD’s nominee for the 2012 Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Later this spring, two Bexar Countyarea recipients will be announced at an awards ceremony hosted by prize sponsor Trinity University.

"Although he is one of the youngest members of the faculty here at Thomas Jefferson High School, James Hammond has already demonstrated a considerable capacity as a teacher and a leader," principal Joanne Cockrell wrote in her nomination letter.

"The life of a new teacher can be daunting as James soon found out, but he rose to the occasion and met the challenges head on.

"To increase his effectiveness, the Teach For America corps member created several new teaching tools. Strategies he developed for his 12th-grade Advanced Placement literature students resulted in their passing the AP exam with SAISD's highest percentages.

While new to teaching, Hammond was no novice to overcoming challenges. His decision to seek a career in education is attributed to a teacher whose question, "Do you want to be great?" inspired the-then Lewisville (Texas) HS 10th grader to conquer speech defects.

By senior year, Hammond was a national oratory champion and his new-found confidence would soon help him to thrive at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 2010.

"I never forgot Ms. Squibb's charge - greatness is in reach of those hands that stretch to grasp it - and I never forgot that it was a teacher, just one unspeakably devoted teacher, who had given me my new life," Hammond wrote.

"Upon graduating, I knew that the greatest cause I could think of, the cause I wanted to devote my life to, was extending to others the opportunities that Ms. Squibb had extended to me. I knew my future was in education."

In addition to AP literature, Hammond teaches AP language and English language arts IV.

After school and Saturdays are spent helping students prepare for their ACT and SAT exams, as well as for college entrance essays. Through his tutelage, many have earned scholarships in the six figures. Among the highest was a scholarship for more than $500,000.

When not in the classroom, Hammond provides professional development and has taken the initiative to redesign Teach For America - San Antonio’s diversity curriculum.

Hammond also spent this past summer working with the mayor's office as a policy analyst/researcher to help ensure a higher-quality of education for the city's public school students.

He currently is pursuing his master’s from UTSA, leading by example through "his own quest for knowledge," Cockrell wrote.

"I am quite sure that we will be hearing great things about James Hammond in the future."