Inaugural year for award taps teachers with deep roots in Catholic education
AUSTIN – Vivian Conway of Austin and Jerrilynn Miller of Beaumont have been honored as the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops 2019 Elementary Teacher of the Year and High School Teacher of the Year, respectively.
“Both Mrs. Conway and Mrs. Miller exemplify the best in Catholic school teachers,” explained Lisette Allen, director of the TCCB’s Education Department. “Their commitment to their students’ academic growth and faith formation has made a difference in the lives of literally thousands of our students.”
Vivian Conway, TCCB 2019 Elementary Teacher of the Year, has been teaching for 38 years, 30 of which have been at St. Louis Catholic School in Austin. She has taught middle school social studies and a variety of elective classes including geography, world religions and study skills. She launched the Student Council program, coached volleyball and cheerleading, led the yearbook committee and created a buddy program in which older students mentor Kindergarteners. She has served on principal search committees, the school board, the Home and School Association and has been a member of accreditation teams and strategic planning groups. Mrs. Conway has organized more than 30 retreats for students and 20 retreats for teachers and has cultivated a sense of fellowship and community among faculty, students, and families. “Her teaching reflects the teachings of the Catholic Church and she models for her students a servant heart,” according to the competition entry. ‘She is truly a pillar of St. Louis Catholic School.”
Mrs. Conway grew up in Groves, Texas, part of the Beaumont Diocese. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in government from Lamar University. She is married to Tommy Conway, a retired high school teacher who currently teaches part time at ACC.
Jerrilynn Miller, the TCCB 2019 High School Teacher of the Year, has been teaching for 16 years and is now in her fifth year at Msgr. Kelly Catholic High School in Beaumont. She has taught English, journalism, and photojournalism and has sponsored Yearbook, Student Council and Key Club. She currently teaches world geography and holocaust literature, a course she implemented, in which students study anti-Semitism and modern genocides. Mrs. Miller participated in The Eileen Ludwig Greenland National Bearing Witness Summer Institute designed to give Catholic school educators the skills and resources necessary to bring the lessons of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and modern-day prejudice to their students and school communities. “By her teaching and example, Mrs. Miller instills the Gospel values of love and acceptance in all her students,” according to the competition entry form.
Mrs. Miller grew up in Port Arthur, Texas and attended Lamar State College in Orange, Texas and Lamar University in Beaumont. She and her husband recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary and are the current reigning King and Queen of Mardi Gras Southeast Texas. They have five children, eight grandchildren and one grandchild on the way.
Both winners will receive a signature trophy and a $250 award. This is the inaugural year of the TCCB Teacher of the Year award, with the announcement in advance of the national Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 27-Feb. 2.