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May 2, 2013

Top Teachers

Two 5th grade educators named recipients of 2013 Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching

2013 Trinity Prize winners with education chair Shari Albright (center)
Trinity Prize winners Charlotte Dolat (left) and Isabel Anaya (right) with Murchison Professor and education chair Shari Albright (center).

By Susie P. Gonzalez

SAN ANTONIO - Two 5th grade teachers from San Antonio have been named winners of the 2013 Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The recipients are Charlotte S. Dolat, who teaches at Woodridge Elementary School in the Alamo Heights Independent School District, and Isabel Anaya, who teaches at Charles L. Kuentz Jr. Elementary School in the Northside Independent School District.

They were chosen from 19 distinguished educators who were nominated by their school districts in recognition of outstanding performance in public education. All were honored Wednesday, May 1, in a ceremony held on the campus of Trinity University.

Dolat begins the school year reading a book about a talking crayon box that illustrates the importance of each 5th grader's unique and creative talents that, when combined, result in a spectacular picture. Because her students range from those for whom English is a second language to special education to gifted and talented, she not only guides them to be thinkers, planners, and problem solvers, she emphasizes empathy in her classroom. As technology coordinator, she presents virtual tours to prepare students for field trips and blogs about innovations with teachers across the country. She also initiated a program called Girls Excelling in Math and Science (GEMS). She holds a bachelor's degree from Stephen F. Austin University and a master's from Houston Baptist. "It's not what I teach, but what students learn that matters."

Walking into Anaya's classroom is like stepping into a world of imagination and creativity. She may greet students by standing on a desk to recite a Walt Whitman poem or wear spy gear while the "Mission Impossible" theme song prompts students to solve a tough assignment. She explodes soap in a microwave to illustrate density and volume and even used her own MRI from an illness to spark discussion of brain-based research. Growing up in East Chicago, Ind., Anaya benefited from a caring teacher who steered her to the Upward Bound program and ultimately to Ball State University. In 2005, she earned a master's degree and currently is in a doctoral program. "My hope is that students leave my classroom with a healthy dose of self-esteem, confidence, and knowledge."

The greater San Antonio area's oldest and most prestigious teaching award, the Trinity Prize was launched in 1982 to honor public school teachers who distinguish their teaching practice through outstanding classroom performance, leadership in the school and school district, leadership in the education profession, and outstanding community service.

Recipients of the Prize - which is sponsored by Trinity's education department, along with the H-E-B Grocery Co. and the San Antonio Express-News - each received $2,500 and a crystal apple. A panel of San Antonio business and community leaders selected the winners.

During Wednesday's ceremony, the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki, delivered the Kappa Delta Pi lecture for outstanding educators. She is a 7th grade English teacher in Burbank, Calif.

For more information, contact Trinity's department of education at 210-999-7501.

Susie P. Gonzalez is assistant director of University Communications and can be reached at