• August 14, 2020

OCA teacher wins teaching excellence award - Odessa American: Education

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OCA teacher wins teaching excellence award

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Posted: Monday, January 6, 2020 4:00 am

An Odessa Collegiate Academy AVID coordinator and teacher recently won a National Society for Leadership and Success Award for excellence in teaching.

Elizabeth Gray was honored along with Chet Cooper, OC anatomy and physiology associate professor II; honorary membership R. Mikel Lemons, OC professor of agriculture; Mauro Blessed Matai, Odessa College Law Enforcement Training Academy coordinator; and Eric Baker,  OC department chair of visual and performing arts; and Debbie Lieb, Ector County ISD community engagement specialist.

Winning for excellence in service to students were Katie Nisbet, OC interim dean of the School of Liberal Arts & Education; and Seline Watts, OC mobile fab lab coordinator.

Gray said it was exciting to win the award and she had to be nominated.

“Ms. Gray is well deserving of this award,” Principal James Ramage said.

He added that she is a fantastic teacher, devoted to the students who looks out for their best interests all the time.

“It couldn’t happen to a better person,” Ramage said.

This is Gray’s seventh year with ECISD. Her first three years were at Hays STEAM Academy and the last four have been with OCA, which was formerly known as Falcon Early College High School.

The school moved from the campus at University of Texas Permian Basin to OC in 2018.

“Everything’s great,” Gray said. “We feel more established this year for sure than we did last year. The kids are getting more involved with Odessa College societies, student groups and all that.”

One of the things she enjoys about being at the early college high school is its small student body.

“… We can be more of a family and I thoroughly enjoy now that we’re at OC watching the kids be able to graduate with their associate’s before their high school degree. It’s pretty exciting,” Gray said.

Recently she had 31 of 66 seniors already accepted to college.

“I even had kids messaging me over Thanksgiving telling me they got accepted,” Gray said.

A Permian High School graduate, Gray graduated from Texas Woman’s University in Denton with a bachelor’s degree in history. She earned a master’s in professional education from UTPB. 

She is starting a second bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. Currently at OC, Gray plans to transfer back to UTPB in the fall of next year.

Eventually, she would like to switch careers.

“The second bachelor’s is taking awhile because I’m only doing one class at a time. I have to pay cash for it … so it will be like four or five years from now. I want to work on planes or rocket ships or something,” Gray said. “Maybe NASA one day. I don’t know.”

Winning the National Society for Leadership and Success award makes Gray want to work harder.

“I want to prove that I’ve earned that recognition and that honor,” Gray said.

She said being an excellent teacher boils down to the relationships you have with the students, “making them feel welcomed in your class and they know that they can come to you for help. And just always being there to advocate for them.”

Gray said she was inspired to become a teacher by Martha Overby.

“She’s still a teacher here in ECISD. I had her in third and fifth grade and that’s how she made me feel, like she was an excellent teacher and I wanted to be that somebody for students,” Gray said.

Odessa, TX

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