Two HISD Educators Named ‘Champions of Change’ by White House

TDS Ben Hernandez and Austin HS teacher Armando Orduña nominated by Gates Foundation

August 31, 2012

Two HISD educators were honored Friday at the White House as “Champions of Change” for their efforts to improve the lives of Hispanic youths.

Teacher Development Specialist Ben Hernandez and Austin High School teacher Armando Orduña were nominated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which also handpicked them to be members of that organization’s inaugural Teacher Advisory Council earlier this year.

At Austin High School, students and staff members gathered in two classrooms to watch the live feed of the White House awards ceremony, which highlighted all of the recipients. Principal Jorge Arredondo said he was proud of Orduña’s achievement.

"(It’s) an honor and something we should appreciate and continue to support—the advancement of teachers across the United States," Arredondo said. "We want to be at the forefront of change and good practices, and so it’s important to have our very own teachers who are leading here in Houston and being recognized at the national level."

During the ceremony in the nation’s capital, Orduña shared ideas for elevating the Latino community to greater success.

Champions of Change
HISD Teacher Armando Orduna is featured in this video on the "Teach Like a Champion" pilot program being used at middle schools throughout the district,
HISD Teacher Development Specialist Ben Hernandez is featured in this video on the district's teacher appraisal and development system.

"One of the hallmark characteristics of Latin culture is the incredible importance and emphasis on family. When my students walk in the door I don’t see them as the kids from the neighborhood; I see my daughter, I see my brothers, I see myself. When I talk to a single mother, I see my mother," Orduña said. "As long as we keep that sense of family in the classrooms, that will extend out in to the world."

Hernandez said retaining effective teachers requires a focused approach concentrating on three areas: redefining success, restructuring compensation to compete with the private sector, and developing career pathways, which is something HISD is committed to.

"(HISD is) very progressive and aggressive, so I think in a lot of ways, it can turn national eyes on us to see what we’re doing right," Hernandez said.