Austin ISD and Round Rock ISD Winners of Regional Teachers of the Year

photos of teachers of the year

Austin Independent School District and Round Rock Independent School District teachers have been named the 2023 Regional Teachers of the Year by Education Service Center Region 13.

Kari Johnston from Austin ISD is the 2023 Elementary Teacher of the Year. Kari has worked in Austin ISD at Perez Elementary for 4.5 years as a dual language fifth-grade teacher. When she was first nominated for this award, she said, “I believe that my role as a bilingual educator is both to teach objectives and sustain the culture and language of my students through a curriculum that is representative of their lived experiences. I’m excited to celebrate with my students. This has been a time of growth and renewal, and I’m so excited to celebrate that with them.”

Andrea Larson from Round Rock ISD is the 2023 Secondary Teacher of the Year. Andrea has worked in Round Rock ISD at McNeil High school for 20 years as an English Language Learner Teacher. “One of my core beliefs is that every story matters,” Larson said “Every person has a story to tell, and when we make space for the telling of those stories and time to really listen, we become transformed. Sharing stories allows us to see the threads of experience that bind us all together, and sharing stories highlights the amazing diversity that exists even among people who might otherwise seem so like us.”

Both Kari and Andrea will represent Region 13 in the statewide contest for Texas Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Rich Elsasser, Executive Director of ESC Region 13, says, “The caliber of the nominees for Teacher of the Year is incredible. We’re proud to have Kari and Andrea as our regional representatives. They demonstrate a commitment to their craft and students while inspiring educators at any level. They’re the true definition of an outstanding teacher, and we’re lucky to have them in our schools.”

To acknowledge the winners’ accomplishments, Abilene Christian University has awarded Johnston and Larson a full tuition scholarship to complete a fully online Master of Education in Instruction and Learning or Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program at ACU. ESC Region 13 has recently partnered with ACU to offer advanced degrees in an effort to foster teacher development in Central Texas. All nominees were also offered partial scholarships for either program—a $3,000 scholarship at the master’s level or a $7,000 scholarship at the doctoral level.

“There’s never been a more important time to invest in K-12 teachers and administrators,” said Dr. Stephen Johnson, chief administrative officer for ACU Dallas. “ACU believes that the work of teachers and educators across Central Texas matters and is so incredibly important. We are grateful for this partnership with ESC Region 13 to provide educational programs to support, empower and advance the transformative work of education.”

Sponsored by the Texas Association of School Administrators, the Texas Teacher of the Year program has honored excellence in classroom education since 1969 and continues to annually recognize and reward teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching. TASA’s mission is to promote, provide, and develop leaders who create and sustain student-centered schools and develop future-ready students.

Abilene Christian is the highest-ranking university in Texas in a 2022 U.S. News & World Report assessment of institutions highly regarded for their commitment to student success. Nationally, ACU achieved Top 10 status in three and Top 50 in another of eight high-impact categories among 1,500 universities evaluated for the annual “U.S. News Best Colleges” edition. No other Texas university was named in the top 10 of any category. Learn more at

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