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TI Foundations Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards

October 6, 2020 

For the past 14 years Plano ISD staff has been honored to work with the Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation to recognize outstanding teachers of secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Since the TI Innovations in STEM Teaching program began, nearly two million dollars has been awarded to teachers in six local school districts and 36 Plano ISD teachers have been recognized.

The district and the Plano ISD Education Foundation is thankful to the TI Foundation and Andy Smith, executive director of the Texas Instruments Foundation, for making this teaching award possible for STEM teachers in Plano ISD. The presentation of the TI STEM Innovations in Teaching awards are typically made in the spring of each school year, but were postponed due to the pandemic.

“Over the years, our staff has been honored to work with the Texas Instruments Foundation and the Plano ISD Education Foundation to recognize the important work of outstanding Plano ISD teachers of secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Academics Dr. Katrina Hasley.

Each winner receives $10,000 in cash and awards comprised of a $5,000 personal cash award and a $5,000 award for their school to go toward classroom technology or professional development opportunities. These TI awards are made in partnership with the Plano ISD Education Foundation.

TI Foundation's Innovation in STEM Teaching Award Winners

Amy Swanner, Murphy Middle School; Bill Mitchell, Carpenter Middle School; and Emily Miznazi, Frankford Middle School were presented with their plaques and checks from the TI Foundation and were recognized by the Board of Trustees for their excellence in teaching at the October Meeting.

2020 Winners and Finalists

These teachers have demonstrated quality instruction that builds student achievement in the STEM subjects. Three Plano ISD teachers have received the TI Foundation Innovations in STEM Teaching Award for 2020 and were recognized by the Board of Trustees at the October meeting, and three teachers reached finalists standing.


Bill Mitchell | Seventh Grade Math Teacher | Carpenter Middle School

Bill Mitchell, Carpenter MS

  • According to principal Courtney Washington, "To accomplish great things, one must be willing to go above and beyond. To go above and beyond, one must be determined, innovative and willing to take risks.  Mr. Mitchell’s determination to innovate and take risks has paid off.  Take a bow because you are truly deserving of this honor for all that you are to the Carpenter Middle School community.  Congratulations, William "Bill" Mitchell!  You are a Rock Star!"

Emily Miznazi | Sixth Grade Science Teacher | Frankford Middle School

Emily Miznazi, Frankford MS

  • Principal Melanie Schulte said,"We are so proud to have our incredible Emily Miznazi chosen as one of the 2019-2020 STEM Teaching Award Winners!  Emily is a creative, passionate and dedicated educator who consistently goes above and beyond to serve her students and our campus as a whole. During any visit to Ms. Miznazi's sixth grade science classroom, you will find students highly engaged and excited about their learning in innovative ways. Ms. Miznazi consistently looks for ways to bring her lessons to life and create safe, hands on experiences for her students. In addition to her work inside her own classroom, Emily serves as a valuable member on our district curriculum writing team. In the Frankford Middle School community, she gives her time as a sponsor for both student council and STEM club. Ms. Miznazi has devoted her heart and time to sharing her love for science with all students! We are so proud of you and thankful for all you give to the Falcon community."

Amy Swanner | Seventh Grade Math Teacher |Murphy Middle School

Amy Swanner, Murphy MS

  • According to her principal Mr. Matt Conrad, "Mrs. Swanner's number one skill is relationship building with her students. She understands that many students must first have their basic social and emotional needs met in the classroom before excelling in mathematics. When watching her teach, one can clearly see her innate ability to relate to students, learn their needs and then assist them in meeting those needs. She explains things in ways that students easily understand which is why she has such a high rate of student success in her classes."


  • Vashka Desai, chemistry and science research and design teacher at Jasper High School
  • Lasma Jekabsone-Berrouet, (former) precalculus and statistics facilitator at Academy High School and now assistant principal at Robinson Middle School
  • Alex Smith, sixth grade math teacher at Robinson Middle School