Marie Marks, a San Antonio ISD Distinguished Teacher of the Year, was recognized this week as one of Bexar County’s best educators. A Spanish teacher at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy (YWLA), Marks learned during a surprise Zoom call that she was selected as the 2020 KENS5 Credit Human EXCEL Award honoree for SAISD.
“The virtual ceremony and award were very much a surprise,” said Marks after she accepted the award. “I am humbled to have been chosen among very deserving colleagues. I am doing what I love every day and I probably benefit and learn as much or more as my students and community members do with all of our endeavors.”
The 2020-2021 school year marks Marks’s 21st year as an educator, and her fifth-year teaching at YWLA. Though Spanish is not her first language, Marks’s students are often in awe of how “obsessed” she is with Spanish.
“I knew very early that learning Spanish turned on a light inside of me,” she said. “People who know me say that my soul is alive when speaking Spanish and speaking about the cultural and historical perspectives I have gained.”
Marks says that she appreciates that language teachers are valued and highlighted as much as traditional core teachers, and that language classes are intertwined with all the other subjects in a variety of ways.
“I love when students make connections between subject areas and connect with the material in a personal way to see the real impact of their education on future life,” she said. “I want all of our youth to be at least bilingual, and biliterate - more languages would be even better. Learning another language is not just about learning words; it’s learning to have an open mind and really understanding point of view and context of others. We appreciate both similarities and differences with respect.”
Marks says that enthusiasm, creativity, and commitment are characteristics that define her as a teacher. She believes that if students see an instructor who demonstrates a passion for the subject they are teaching, inevitably the student will be affected by this energy and engage themselves actively in the learning process.
Working with her students is Marks’s favorite thing about teaching.
“I could be in Spanish class, practicing AVID strategies, working in the butterfly garden, or doing extracurricular competitions,” she said. “Opening their eyes to new experiences and helping to prepare them to be conscious citizens in the future gives me peace and happiness.”
In February of this year, Marks was one of three SAISD educators selected as Distinguished Teachers of the Year from a pool of campus-level Teachers of the Year, representing each District campus. The KENS5 Credit Human EXCEL Award includes an apple trophy, $1,000 cash prize and a feature story aired on KENS5.