Friendswood ISD named Bales’ Ann Defibaugh as Elementary Teacher of the Year (TOY) and Friendswood Junior High’s Sean Morgan as Secondary TOY during its End of Year Celebration on Friday, May 28.
Both teachers were chosen from six finalists from across the District. Once the six teachers of the year were named, it was up to the Friendswood ISD Education Foundation (FEF) to select which two teachers would move on to represent FISD for the Region 4 TOY selection process.
“It was very difficult for our committee to narrow down from the six outstanding educators nominated this year,” FEF TOY Committee Chair Kathryn Jenkins said. “What stood out across the board is their commitment to investing in the whole child. These teachers not only provide authentic, hands-on and real-world learning but also know their students' unique strengths, challenges and passions in order to meet them right where they are."
Defibaugh has been teaching for 35 years, all of which have been in Friendswood ISD. When she initially entered the workforce, she served as a cost analyst at NASA but felt “it was [her] calling” to teach. When she announced her decision to a co-worker, he shook his head and said, “You’ll be underpaid and wasted.” To which she replied, “I might be underpaid, but I won’t be wasted.”
She was right. Not one moment of her time in FISD has been wasted as she’s continued to leave her positive mark on students’ lives. Defibaugh has been a departmentalized math teacher, a departmentalized reading teacher and a self-contained teacher, the latter being her favorite of all. Outside of work, she loves reading, playing various instruments, running 5Ks and birdwatching; all of which she should have more time for as she enters retirement this year.
“Ann focuses on student engagement to increase individual achievement,” Jenkins said. “The impact and innovation of her creative and effective teaching are far-reaching and long-lasting.”
Like Defibaugh, Morgan’s original career path was not education, but he too said he felt the calling to teach. Morgan has a background in filmmaking, working on the set of popular Christian movie Fireproof and even writing, producing and directing his own original film Altar Egos.
Morgan said he knew he wanted to pass his love of storytelling onto the next generation, so when a theatre arts teaching position opened at FJH, he happily took on the new role. For the last four years, Morgan has helped elevate the FJH Theatre Program to new heights with his technical direction in musicals like The Little Mermaid and Annie Jr. He has also instilled new passions in the hearts of his students with one noting his encouragement has “changed [her] life.”
"Sean utilizes his own passions to be the most effective teacher he can be while allowing students to discover their own motivations and talents,” Jenkins said. “Through engaging emotions, igniting thoughts, and motivating change, Sean makes a difference every day, for each student."
Congratulations to these outstanding educators and best of luck to them in the Region 4 selection.
- Teacher of the Year