Vonthisha DeFriend is a truly outstanding elementary teacher, and through her dedication to our profession, she clearly exemplifies TCTELA"s core values. In her continued effort to share the joys of the interconnected nature of reading and writing, Vonthisha advocates for her students, never ceasing to put their needs first. Vonthisha was a non-reader who found the joy of reading through her college professor. She has since been on a quest to find and share the best children's literature has to offer with her own classroom. Her passion has positively impacted her young readers for the past seven years. She has also shared her story about learning to love books beyond her classroom, having been interviewed for a podcast and professional presentation and having contributed to a piece on teacher retention in English in Texas.
Vonthisha has taught kindergarten, first grade, and third grade in both Galena Park ISD and Houston Independent School District. She is currently a third-grade teacher at Sam Houston Elementary in Galene Park where she serves as her team lead. Last year, Vonthisha was selected as the Campus Teacher of the Year, her team was honored with the Team of the Year award, and she even earned the School Spirit Award. Her infectious passion and spirit are obvious beyond her campus as well, as she is active on X (formerly Twitter) where she is forever lauding the efforts of her students. It is always about her students, and it is this commitment to our youngest learners that makes Vonthisha DeFriend the TCTELA Elementary Teacher of the Year.