Carmela Valdez, a co-teacher and core member in the Heart of Texas Writing Project at the College of Education, has won the 2021 Donald Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing from the National Council of Teachers of English.
The competitive national award annually recognizes teachers in grades K-6 who, through the teaching of writing, demonstrate an understanding of student improvement in writing.
Valdez, B.A. ’97, has been an educator for more than 15 years and is currently an early childhood, two-way dual language teacher at Perez Elementary School in the Austin Independent School District. She has a bachelor’s degree in drama from The University of Texas at Austin and an M.Ed. in early childhood education from Texas State University.
In the classroom and at the Heart of Texas Writing Project, Valdez is committed to empowering her students to use their voices and writing to enhance their communities and families’ lives. She is a passionate advocate for the rights of every multilingual student and believes that language is a civil right.
The Heart of Texas Writing Project is an inclusive community of educators devoted to improving the teaching and learning of reading, writing, and 21st century literacies. An affiliate of the National Writing Project, it provides in-service professional development to schools and districts, hosts workshops for teachers, and organizes an intensive, invitational summer institute in the teaching of writing, and supports a community of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals in literacy education.