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Teachers Receive Trinity Prize for Excellence

Friday, April 20, 2018
Jeff Wheatcraft (left) and Andrea Lucas’02,’03 (right) winning the Trinity Prize

Jeff Wheatcraft (left), the STEM coordinator at Alamo Heights Junior High School in the Alamo Heights Independent School District, and Andrea Lucas ’02,’03 (right) a 4th grade bilingual teacher at Lamar Elementary School, awarded the 2018 Trinity Prize. With Deneese Jones, Trinity University vice president for Academic Affairs  

Educators from middle school STEM program and 4th grade honored for dedication and distinction    

by Susie P. Gonzalez

SAN ANTONIO – A middle school science coordinator and a 4th grade teacher were named winners of the 2018 Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching during a spirited ceremony Friday, April 20, on the Trinity University campus. The Prize honors motivated and dedicated educators in the San Antonio region.  

This year’s Trinity Prize recipients are Jeff Wheatcraft, the STEM coordinator at Alamo Heights Junior High School in the Alamo Heights Independent School District, and Andrea Lucas ’02,’03, a 4th grade bilingual teacher at Lamar Elementary School in the San Antonio Independent School District.

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, contributions to the education profession, and stellar community service.

Wheatcraft finds problems and then helps solve them. He designed the STEM program for his school from scratch with a goal of having students engage with science through a lens of exploration, fabrication, and discovery. Three words are posted on his classroom door—Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose—and they guide his goal to teach students not what to think but how to think while helping them find purpose in the educational setting. His hobbies are restoring classic cars and storm chasing, which he brings into the classroom. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Arizona State University.

When Lucas entered Lamar Elementary, her principal says the school became a different place with richer, substantive conversations that were focused on shifting teaching practices to help the school evolve and better support student learning. She continues to learn ways to update curriculum and improve her skills and those of teachers around her, including Trinity education interns. After one workshop, she launched a daily Tiger Time for teachers to focus on social-emotional learning for students, many of whom arrive to class from homes filled with trauma and trouble. Lucas holds bachelor and master’s degrees from Trinity University.  

Recipients of the Prize, which is sponsored by Trinity’s Department of Education, each received $2,500 and a crystal apple. A panel of San Antonio business and community leaders selected the winners. All 19 finalists were recognized.

Members of this year’s selection committee are Christa Aldrich, Literacy Program manager at H-E-B; Kimberly Anderson, first lady of Trinity University; Robert Rivard, co-founder and publisher of the nonprofit online journal the Rivard Report; and Camila Borrero ’18, ’19, the outstanding senior in education.

During the ceremony, the 2017 National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee delivered the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching lecture. She is a humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Boston.  

For more information, contact Trinity’s Department of Education at 210-999-7501.

Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations, can be reached at susie.gonzalez [at] trinity.edu or @susiegonz.