CLUTE, TEXAS -- Brazoswood High School rocket engineering teacher Chris McLeod is the 2023 Texas Secondary Teach of the Year. He teaches 10th through 12th graders how to build fully functioning rockets. For him, launch day is the best day.
"The excitement of all that work culminating to a 10-second countdown, it's unlike anything else in your life," said McLeod.
In June, his Rocketry III class set a record for high school hybrid rockets for their Goddard Horizon 1 rocket during a launch in White Sands, New Mexico. Their rocket flew 45,482 feet in the air, breaking the previous record of 36,100 feet.
His classes are part of Brazosport ISD's Career and Technical Education program. He says his teaching is about more than just learning science and math.
"This really isn't about the rocket, yes we want to set records, yes we want to get really good at engineering skills," said McLeod, "but the real focus here is that we build collaborators, problem-solvers, and world builders."
A panel of judges interviewed the finalists for state teacher of the year on October 20th. The judges picked two state-level winners, Elementary Teacher of the Year and Secondary teacher of the year. They select one to represent Texas in the National Teacher of the Year program.
The Texas Association of School Administrators announced all the winners of the state awards at a ceremony on October 21st in Round Rock.