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Alumna (ʼ94) named Texas Elementary Teacher of Year

Jun 09, 2020

Maria Elena Pacheco PTA Teacher of the YearThe Texas Parent Teacher Association has named Maria Elena Pacheco (BA Spanish ʼ94) the Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2020.

A kindergarten teacher at Martha Turner Reilly Elementary in the Dallas Independent School District, Pacheco was selected from nominations across the state.

“I am truly honored to win this award,” she said. “It’s awesome. I have been teaching since 1994 -- the year I graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University.”

Pacheco’s nomination letter cited classroom and communication excellence. Katy Decker from the Reilly PTA wrote, “Ms. Pacheco knows that as a kindergarten teacher, she is responsible for laying the foundation for the families’ school experience as much as the children’s (experience).

“Both of my children had her for kindergarten, so I saw how well she communicates with families. She answers emails, text and Remind app messages promptly, at all hours, and never makes a clueless kindergarten parent feel like they are an imposition on her.”

Pacheco credited her parents, John and Josefina, for supporting her career. In the fall of 1990, John Pacheco drove his daughter from their home in Garland to San Antonio. “My dad dropped me off at the university,” she said. “He is from San Antonio. I try to visit there every chance I get.

“We lost him in 2018. I want him to know I won this award after he delivered me to Our Lady of the Lake and that he helped me to realize my dream of becoming a teacher. He believed in me. Both my parents did. They knew if I set my mind to something I would do everything in my power to make it happen.”

Pacheco and other award winners will attend the Talk of Texas lunch in October during the PTA’s statewide convention in Dallas.