Distinguished Educator Award Winner
"He is the heart of the school. He continues to amaze me with how much he cares for the staff and students. He is a mentor to all and a true visionary," said colleague Christy Berg of Jim Heston. Heston, an instructional specialist at G.W. Carver Academy Middle School in Waco, Texas, is the recipient of the 2011 Association for Middle Level Education Distinguished Educator Award. The award, sponsored by Pearson, will be presented to Heston by the AMLE Foundation at the NMSA/Association for Middle Level Education Annual Conference, November 11, 2011, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Known for his unique and innovative teaching style, Heston has been a middle grades educator for more than 15 years in the Waco Independent School District. He is an instructional leader in the district, advocating for integrative thematic units and problem-based learning and exemplifying the characteristics of successful schools and educators as identified in This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents, AMLE's landmark position paper.
According to Mary Parrish, a former student of Heston's, "Mr. Heston encouraged us to believe in ourselves. We explored what we loved, learned to accept what we did not, and most importantly, discovered what our greatest personal challenges would be and how to overcome them."
During his career he has presented conference sessions at the NMSA/AMLE annual conference, the Space Exploration Educators Conference, the T-STEM Conference, and the conference of the Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading. He is part of his school's leadership team, serves as the campus Partners in Education coordinator, and has served as ELA department chair and eighth grade team leader. He conducts technology training and maintains the school's website and wiki discussion board, both of which he created.
Additionally, he was part of a teaching team that won the 2008 NMSA Teams That Make a Difference Award and the 2007 Time Warner National Teacher Award for an integrated unit of a mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald. He has been named Waco Independent School District's Teacher of the Year and a KWTX Golden Apple winner as well as a two-time second place winner in the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award.
"Through his leadership, mentoring, and dedication to instruction that is engaging, meaningful, and studentdriven, Jim sets an example for all educators. We are honored to celebrate and recognize his accomplishments as an outstanding middle grades practitioner," said AMLE President Nancy Poliseno.