Zapata Laura

Willis, TX, Aug. 10, 2015 – A. R. Turner first-grade teacher Laura Zapata was named the Region VI Elementary Teacher of the Year at the service center’s annual ceremony last week. Nominees came from across the Region VI service area which comprises 57 school districts.


In June, Zapata took the Elementary Teacher of the Year honors for Willis ISD. The 15-year veteran educator always starts her day by talking to the children in her class and making them feel connected.


The 2000 Cum Laude Baylor graduate believes that positive, lasting relationships with students in the classroom are just as important as perfect scores on spelling or STAAR tests.


“These kids are fantastic,” exclaimed Zapata. “I want my students to remember that I cared about them.”


“Laura is an amazing teacher,” stated former Turner Principal and current Director of Elementary Education Trish Musick. “She creates a warm, inviting place for first graders to thrive.”


Described by fellow teachers and administrators alike as a positive person who always has a smile on her face, Zapata takes her role as a teacher quite seriously.


“I believe I have been entrusted with the future success of my students,” Zapata explains. I know that each child possesses ‘lighting in a bottle’ and it’s my job to find a way to open the lid.”


Zapata is one of 40 teachers in the state who will have the opportunity to be named one of six finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year.


The award program is facilitated by the Texas Association of School Administrators. It honors excellence in education and recognizes educators who “have inspired their students, their colleagues and the communities they serve.”


“Laura’s story is truly inspirational,” stated Superintendent Tim Harkrider. “She had to change from teaching pre-K where she had been her entire career to first grade last year and she did it with her positive, all-in attitude. She is truly a role-model for other teachers and we are extremely proud to have her in Willis ISD.”


To view a video presentation of Zapata’s enthusiasm for teaching, go to