It’s important to “create a hook” to bring a school lesson to life, and one Pine Tree ISD teacher honored Wednesday uses a “Sesame Street” song to teach math.

In Jennifer Mitchell’s eighth-grade math class, students remember quadratic parent functions, thanks to her clever tune set to “Mahna Mahna” made popular by “Muppets” characters.

“We play this ‘Sesame Street’ clip where they’re like, ‘Ba ba ba da da,’ and all my kids go, ‘Parabola,’” Mitchell said.

At the Greater Longview Organization for Business and Education Teacher of the Year Awards, Mitchell was among two dozen East Texas teachers honored for their dedication to K-12 education.

She teaches eighth-grade math and Algebra I at Pine Tree Junior High School. As leader of the math department, she helped the school get “standing desks” to aid with students’ attention spans, GLOBE co-chair Cody Bailey said.

GLOBE co-chair Linda Buie said the group was started as a response to the lack of educated applicants seeking jobs after high school. Business leaders and educators developed initiatives like the GLOBE Scholar Program, which recognizes high school graduates who complete “rigorous” courses.

The organization began to honor two teachers from each member district at a special ceremony in the late 1980s.

Districts chose their own Teacher of the Year honorees, usually one teacher on the elementary level and another on the secondary level.

Each teacher was awarded a glass plaque and $200 Brookshire’s gift card, event chairperson Marty Lane said.

Lane and Bailey read short bios and teaching philosophies for each teacher during the event.

Regi Gray, fourth-grade math teacher at Tatum Elementary School, believes every student is special.

“I firmly believe that every child can be successful regardless of their background or previous academic standing,” Gray’s philosophy read. “If one first has that belief and embodies it in how they plan and work with a student, that student can achieve.”

Bailey applauded the teachers and said great teachers have passion.

“It’s a hard job and each of you chose teaching and this profession for a reason,” he said. “It could’ve been the impact a teacher had on you in your younger years. It could be your upbringing, wanting to give back to the kids. ... Whatever the reason is, thank you for following your passion and doing it well.”

Also recognized with Teacher of the Year awards were Kalyn Willis and Kristina Graegin of Longview ISD, Hope Pearce of Pine Tree, D’Lee Reagh and Katy Prince of Spring Hill ISD, Ramonda Hawley and Beth Choice of Gladewater ISD, Rene’ McDaniel and April Washburn of Sabine ISD, Angie Lobue and Gina Smith of White Oak ISD, Alaina Hamilton and Mike Clay of Hallsville ISD, Trina Cooner and Julie Furlow of Harleton ISD, Lindsey Monaghan and Quentin Evans of Leverett’s Chapel ISD, Jose Angel Rocha of Tatum ISD, Amber Watson and Trisha Kaunitz of Gilmer ISD and Charlie Bates and Tammy Willeford of New Diana ISD.



Brittany Michelle Williams, an University of Arkansas alumna, serves East Texas as an education reporter at the Longview News-Journal. She won the Arkansas Press Association's 2017 First Place Coverage in Education award, for her work with the El Dorado N