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Wellington’s Dr. Isela Russell Named Region 11 Teacher of the Year

Dr. Russell was granted the distinguished honor at the ESC’s annual awards banquet.

On Tuesday, August 1, Dr. Isela Russell, third-grade Spanish immersion teacher at Wellington Elementary, was named the 2023 Education Service Center (ESC) Region 11 Elementary Teacher of the Year during the organization’s annual awards banquet.

The event, hosted by the ESC Region 11 and generously funded by the EECU credit union, recognizes all of the teachers of the year from school districts in the north Texas region. The Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by the Texas Association of School Administrators, allows districts to submit one elementary and one secondary candidate to compete at the regional and state levels. Eighty-eight teachers, representing 46 school districts in Region 11, participated in this year’s competition.

“I am incredibly honored to represent Region 11 and [Lewisville ISD]. It is a moment of joy and I feel overwhelmed,” Dr. Russell expressed. “My family and I are still processing this incredible award. To be nominated alongside amazing educators is an incredible honor on its own, but to be named Region 11 Elementary Teacher of the Year, well, I am speechless.”

Dr. Isela Russell has been an educator for 20 years, serving in LISD since 2015. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2002, earning two bachelor’s degrees (Spanish and Sociology). She went on to earn her master’s degree in 2003. In 2013, she received her doctorate in K16 Educational Leadership and Policy Study from the University of Texas Arlington. Prior to joining the teaching staff at Lewisville ISD, she served as an instructional math specialist and a bilingual math teacher in Irving ISD.

In 2023, Dr. Russell was named the LISD Elementary Teacher of the Year and was celebrated with the Texas Lifetime Honorary PTA Award. She was also recently honored as the Best in Denton County: Elementary Teacher in 2022. Additionally, Dr. Russell was named District Teacher of the Year for Irving ISD in 2010.

She is a passionate educator who holds all students, colleagues, and herself to the highest expectations. She is a strong believer in César Chávez’s phrase, “¡Sí Se Puede!” (“Yes, you can!”), and believes that ALL students, regardless of backgrounds, can make “Pigs Fly.” As a young girl, she faced many obstacles in the education system. After overcoming personal challenges, such as learning English and becoming the first in her family to pursue Higher Education, she made an oath to become an educator who always gives 110% so her students, and anyone around her, can reach their fullest potential and believe that ANYTHING is possible.

“Her story is so compelling,” stated Chrissy Greeling, a judge from Keller ISD. “She shares how her family was from Mexico and that she had to repeat the third grade simply because her parents couldn’t communicate effectively with school officials. She goes on to say that she is a tireless advocate for public education, which is so important in today’s climate.”

“Dr. Russell keeps her ‘Yes, you can!’ theme running throughout her application, and it is so inspiring that she believes in paying it back one student at a time,” states Kellie Conlon, a judge from Crowley ISD.

“She sums up her message in one statement: You were made to be a difference maker. She truly has made a difference!” shared John Williams, a judge from Mansfield ISD.

“Let tonight be a reminder of the difference teachers make every single day and how important our public education system is,” said Dr. Russell following the ceremony. “One teacher made a difference in my life and believed in me. I am here because of her, Mrs. Martindale, my middle school P.E. teacher. Because of her I believe, ‘Sí Se Puede’ (Yes We Can). We should all strive to be better than yesterday and help one student at a time. Thank you, Region 11, for this opportunity and celebrating the amazing things that happen in our classrooms daily. Thank you LISD and Wellington Elementary for this incredible journey and allowing me to share my story and making “Sí Se Puede” come alive.”

Dr. Russell and Region 11 Secondary Teacher of the Year winner from Granbury ISD Michael Beauchamp will now compete at the state level for the Texas Teacher of the Year award. The Texas Association of School Administrators’ selection committee will meet to review the applications of the regional winners on August 14, 2023, and then name three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers as state semifinalists in the competition on September 5. These six semifinalists will then participate in an interview with the selection committee on October 19. The elementary and secondary state winners will be announced on October 20.

Click HERE to watch Dr. Russell’s Region 11 essay submission video.

Click HERE to watch Dr. Russell’s LISD Elementary Teacher of the Year celebration video.

Click HERE to read ESC Region 11’s full press release from the 2023 Teacher of the Year competition.

From the beginning, Lewisville Independent School District has committed to ensuring all students are confident, equipped with the knowledge and skills to thrive and adapt for their future. Follow Lewisville ISD on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see more student experiences throughout the school year or visit Best Schools in Texas for more information about joining the LISD family.