2018 Educator of the Year
This Westie goes to a Westlake area teacher or administrator in recognition of his or her outstanding contributions to the educational community and to the enrichment in the lives of children through academic achievement. He or she inspires students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, has the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues, and plays an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school.
Finalist: Ed Snouffer
Edward Snouffer is enjoying his nineteenth year of teaching in Eanes ISD and is proud to be the Head Director of the award-winning Westlake High School Choir Program. At nearly 500 students, Mr. Snouffer has grown the program be the largest organization at Westlake High School.
Mr. Snouffer has received numerous honors throughout his teaching career including Lake Travis ISD Teacher of the Year, Texas Region XIII Teacher of the Year, multiple listings in Who’s Who of American Teachers, and five Golden Apple Awards presented by the Westlake student body.
In addition to his teaching duties at Westlake, Mr. Snouffer has sung professionally with Conspirare, the Grammy nominated professional choir based in Austin. He has been part of two of the group’s recordings, “Through the Green Fuse” and “Threshold of Music”. In the Austin community, Mr. Snouffer serves as Associate Music Director at St. John’s United Methodist Church. Annually, he is a section leader for the Longhorn Music All-State Choir Clinic at the University of Texas at Austin, has served as coordinator of the Texas Music Educators Association’s All-State Men’s Choir, and is currently the Judge Coordinator for TMEA Vocal Region 18. Mr. Snouffer enjoys arranging music for Westlake High School Choirs and he is in the process of preparing a choral arrangement for publication by Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a state accredited adjudicator, as well as a clinician and accompanist for choirs across the state and is an active member of Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), Texas Choral Directors Association (TCDA), Texas Music Adjudicators Association (TMAA), and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).
Mr. Snouffer receives numerous letters of gratitude from his alumni of five, ten and even thirty years after their high school education has ended. These messages are a constant source of pride for him, as well as ongoing inspiration for the community of inclusivity, acceptance, collaboration and excellence he seeks to provide in his classroom every day.
Finalist: Jane Lewis
PE Teacher, Jane Lewis, is the last of the original staff to be teaching at Forest Trail Elementary. After 30 years at Forest Trail Elementary, she is teaching children of former students! Mrs. Lewis enjoys being connected with the community for such an extended period of time.
One of the most important aspects of her teaching is helping her students form connections with others. Play is a natural form of communication and connects the players as they form bonds and work together.
She also works to help them connect beyond the classroom. At Forest Trail, they have Parent Play Days. This allows the children to play and interact with their parents and neighbors. The students strengthen their family and community relationships through such days.
The school is very involved in community service. Her hope is that she has enabled the students to see issues in the local community and given them avenues to have a positive impact on those challenges. The school has helped fund two tiny homes at Community First, assembled and donated 15,000 toiletry packages to a local food pantry, participated in events such as an annual food drive and Charlie's Challenge which benefits ACS.
Mrs. Lewis hopes that by establishing these connections, her students will know that they have the ability to have a positive impact on their friends, family and community.
Finalist: Jocelyn Bixler
Westlake High School AP Calculus teacher, Jocelyn Bixler, is passionate about motivating kids to take, and be successful at, higher levels of math than they initially thought they were capable of. In 34 years of teaching, Mrs. Bixler has taught every level of math to students from all backgrounds and nothing is more rewarding to her than having one of them contact her after graduation to say thanks. She says that she loves it more now than when she started.
Sometimes it takes them going to college to realize just how smart they really are. When Mrs. Bixler took over AP Calculus at Westlake, she wanted to encourage every kid that was willing to try. The program has grown from less than 70 to 224 students taking the Calculus BC exam last year…and that’s not counting all the Calculus AB students (AB Calculus is equivalent to a first semester college calculus course and BC is equivalent to both first and second semesters college courses).
Mrs. Bixler gets to school before 6:00 am typically and stays until late, but a kid with a smile on their face when they suddenly “get it” is worth every moment spent preparing for class. To Mrs. Bixler, they are amazing, keep her young-at-heart, and motivate her to try to be better. She was asked once how she would like to be remembered… “I truly hope it is with a smile”.
Mrs. Bixler has a B.S. and a M.A. from the University of Texas. Her whole family graduated from UT. Husband, Gary, is a Tech consultant; daughter, Lexi, graduated in Economics, lives New York City, worked for Lazard Assessment, and now is an aspiring singer; son, Brooks, graduated from UT in Chemical Engineering and works for Kinetics. Both Lexi and Brooks went through Westlake and were highly prepared for college. It is her goal to maintain the tradition of rigor and relevance in all subjects that she teaches...as well as having a little fun along the way.
Last Year's Winner: Melinda Darrow, WHS Art History Teacher
- Area Info