With this post, we start a new monthly feature on the DEN Texas blog called "Texas STAR". In this series, we will feature two STAR Discovery Educators each month from the great state of Texas (similar to the Educator Spotlight on the National DEN webpage). This month, we are featuring Diedre Cook (who has been guest blogging about her experiences with AFI in the classroom) and Judith Valle (who will be guest blogging this month from the Silver Spring, Maryland, DEN National Institute).
Diedre Cook is currently teaching World History Pre-AP and is the Gifted & Talented Coordinator at Seven Lakes High School in the Katy Independent School District. Prior to teaching in Katy, Diedre has worked for both the Ft. Worth and Dallas Independent School Districts. Diedre is also a member of curriculum development team for Katy ISD and has presented staff development for her peers introducing new teaching strategies and how to implement those strategies in both Katy ISD and Dallas ISD. She is member of a team of teachers and administrators that presented “Differentiating Curriculum in a Social Studies Classroom” at the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented Conference in November 2006. Within Katy ISD she is involved in many committees including being part of a committee of application advisors for the district’s online lesson planning system and also she is the World History Representative for the Strategy Development Committee. Recently she was named to the High School 2010 Committee which will analyze the components that will go into future high schools throughout the district.
Along with being an Events Planner for the Texas Leadership Council, Judith Valle is the Gifted and Talented/Advanced Academics Specialist at Canutillo Elementary School. She has taught elementary, middle, high school and at El Paso Community College, trains teachers in her district and delivers in-services throughout the state of Texas. Her students have won several awards from Texas Computer Association, TCEA, and the Oscar at the Las Cruces Film Festival. Their famous movie, "History of Canutillo" has been shown on PBS and on the Channel 9 website. Hewlett-Packard and Best Buy has given them over $100,000 for the making of their films, which have been shown at Carlsbad Park, China, Mexico, and Canada. Judith’s documentary, "Volcanoes of Indonesia" will soon be shown on the Travel Channel. This summer, Judith will complete her visit of 70 countries. In December, she will travel to Antarctica, marking the tremendous achievement of having stepped on all 7 continents. The love of her life is her chihuahua, Dinga. She has her own website, calling cards, and her own bedroom.