A Terrace Elementary School fifth-grade teacher was named a winner of the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award, which includes a $20,000 cash prize, during a surprise presentation at the recent Spring Branch ISD Convocation.
Jared Braun, a six-year district educator, learned of his special award while seated in Don Coleman Coliseum with campus colleagues during the Aug. 10 Convocation for all SBISD employees.
Since 2001, The Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award has been issued to approximately 200 teachers. The recognition is based on nominations. It highlights outstanding teachers with ties to the KIPP Texas Public Schools-Houston, YES Prep Public Schools, Teach for America-Houston and The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston networks serving schools and students in largely under-resourced communities.
The annual Kinder Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize innovative and results-oriented teaching and raise public awareness of the importance of effective and committed teachers. The awards are made possible by philanthropists Nancy and Rich Kinder through the Kinder Foundation.
The program was created in honor of Rich Kinder’s mother, Edna C. Kinder, who taught special education for many years. Mr. Kinder is co-founder and executive chairman of Kinder Morgan, the largest energy infrastructure company in North America.
Braun is the second Teach for America educator to earn a Kinder Teaching Award in SBISD; Northbrook High School math teacher Amanda Tysor also was surprised during 2016’s district Convocation with the same teaching excellence prize.
This year, Braun’s award was announced by event speaker Ryan Beeler of Spring Woods High School, who is also a Teach for America graduate. Teach for America regional leaders presented Braun with his symbolic “big check” and a superhero-style cape at Convocation to the surprised young teacher.
In the surprise announcement, Beeler described Braun as an innovator and a risk taker, a teacher who has high expectations for all students. His students showed annual growth due to Braun’s ability to plan and provide high quality instruction, intervention and personalization for every child, Beeler also said.
He leads not only in his classroom, but in a variety of campus-based organizations or groups: Campus Improvement Team and Redesign Team; PTA Teacher Liaison; Chess Club; Lego Robotics; Odyssey of the Mind; and soccer.
“I am proud to have him as a teacher at my school,” reports Principal April Falcon Blanco. “He positively impacts the lives of our students each and every day and is an excellent role model for every child and staff member at Terrace Elementary.”
Braun joined Terrace and SBISD through the regional Teach for America program six years ago, and began his teaching career at the north side elementary school.
He earned a two-year associate degree in elementary education from Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, N.J., and then received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and history in 2012 through The College of New Jersey in Ewing, N.J.
Although Braun has won two district grants totaling $10,000 for projects as varied as a Book Club Library focusing on culturally diverse characters and authors, and a competitive robotics team based on soccer known as Baller Academy, his reaction to hearing his name called out at Convocation fits his humble, sincere personality.
“My initial thought and reaction was ‘Oh, that’s me!’ I have to go up on stage now and I don’t like attention. But my next reaction was ‘Wow, I really appreciate this, it’s humbling to be recognized in this way by everybody,’” he said.
Braun’s parents, Eileen and Albert Braun, flew to Houston secretly ahead of time to see their son honored in the district coliseum.
Braun said he plans to share some of his award proceeds with Terrace PTA, where he is teacher liaison. Some of the award may help him upgrade his own home.
For Braun, the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award means that he is correct on thinking about education as his calling.
“I want to be the best teacher I can be and always strive to do better. This award shows I’m on the right track,” he said. “I’ve wanted to be a teacher, and I hope to have the same passion for teaching and being with kids. In another decade or so, many of my students will have their own kids, and I do hope that I will be here teaching them. ”
He is also interested in pursuing higher education administration one day.