School news



Jeannette Santiago, an English teacher at Spring Branch Independent School District’s (SBISD) Academy of Choice, is on a mission: to cultivate an environment where students who have fallen behind on their path to graduation can thrive academically.

The SBISD Secondary Teacher of the Year Finalist is achieving her goal by balancing digital tools and old-fashioned pen and paper for her students. 

“Today’s young people are undoubtedly technologically savvy, but that doesn’t mean they know how to use digital tools academically,” said Jeannette. “Integrating technology with more traditional study skills has the potential to help them stay more focused.”  

With 88 percent technology usage in her classroom, Jeannette guides her students to utilize digital resources to annotate texts, take notes, and engage with course material actively. She’s particularly interested in seeing how this learning approach will positively impact her students’ standardized test scores. 

“I believe there is something about creating with your hands – even if it’s just taking notes – that helps you interact with what you’re learning,” said Jeannette. “Instead of seeing students fall asleep in front of their screens, we’re starting to see students become academically successful and in a much better position to go to college, trade school, or wherever their paths might take them after leaving Academy of Choice.” 

In her role at the Academy of Choice for two years and as an educator for 16, it’s clear by meeting Jeanette that she has found her true calling. Her eyes light up when she talks about students knocking at her classroom door early in the morning, eager to start their day, or when she watches a student fall in love with reading. 

“It’s extremely gratifying to watch students – who at one point – were in jeopardy of not graduating not only survive but thrive in my classroom and beyond,” said Jeannette. 

A native New Yorker, Jeannette was not initially interested in a career in education. At one point, she pursued a career in fashion, hair, and makeup, quickly realizing that it was not fulfilling and that she needed to find something else that gave her purpose. 

“I fell into education trying to figure out what to do next in my life,” said Jeannette. “And I’m so glad I did. Teaching isn’t just a profession; it’s a passion and an opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of my students, empowering them to reach their full potential.” 

Jeannette said she is humbled to be among the Teacher of the Year Finalists in SBISD, especially since so many deserving colleagues surround her. 

“The recognition makes me feel appreciated, and it’s been fun to see the students get excited about it,” she said. 

Whether Jeannette is exploring new teaching strategies, cheering on her students, or supporting her colleagues, she is undoubtedly a driving force for positive change in the district and worthy of a Teacher of the Year nomination.  

  • Read more about our Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year Finalists here.
  • To learn more about how you can join Team SBISD, click here.