Carissa Warren, a Tally Elementary second-grade teacher, says being named the 2020 KISD Teacher of the Year was a bit of a mixed blessing.
“I was named Teacher of the Year at Tally, and my husband, Dylan, was the Teacher of the Year at Starkey Elementary, so we competed against each other at district. But he said he was hoping I would win, and I hoped he would. He got his wish.”
Warren says it started with the Tally teachers nominating three teachers. Each of the nominees had to fill out an application, and do a timed writing exercise. A school committee of the principal, an upper-grade teacher, a lower-grade teacher, and an aide then interviewed the three nominees, and selected Warren to represent Tally.
She says then the process shifted to a Kerrville Public School Foundation committee. Warren submitted her same application to them, then they arranged to videotape her teaching for 20 minutes, and conducted their own Zoom interview. “They asked me questions about everything from my educational philosophy to how I meet the needs of my students, and a lot in between.”
Warren says the two Teachers of the Year are usually announced at the end-of-year convocation, in front of everyone, but that had to be cancelled. This year, KPSF had to get creative. “They did a drive-by car parade, and really made me feel special. They carded my yard, and had balloons, and presented me with the plaque and my crystal apple. But I still had to make my acceptance speech, only in a Zoom meeting with the other faculty.”
Warren says she was born and raised in Kerrville. Her parents, Joe and Brenda Taylor, homeschooled her through the fifth grade, then she switched to Kerrville schools from sixth grade through Tivy High School, where she graduated in 2009.
She says her father, Joe, is the pastor at Southern Oaks Baptist Church, and her mother, Brenda, is now the finance director at KISD.
Warren says while she was at Baylor University she had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad, at Maastricht University, in Maastricht, Netherlands. “I went with my big sister, Hannah, and we took mainly history type courses, which ran Monday through Thursday, then we spent our weekends touring what we were studying, like the Holocaust Museum in Germany.”
She’s the youngest in her family, she says. Besides Hannah, her sister Sarah Gogliormella and her husband, Martíne, live in Florida, and have a daughter, Hazel. Her brother, Josh Taylor, and his wife Carissa live in Kerrville, and have two children, Caroline and Bowen.
She earned her bachelor of science at Baylor University in 2013, then says she decided to spend the summer in Brazil. “When I was in high school we had exchange students from there, and we kept in touch. I went to meet their families, and while I was there I also got to teach English for a day at their school.” She still loves to travel to other countries, and see what their schools are like.
She says the only problem was that she forgot that the summer was when she was supposed to be looking for a teaching position. She got lucky, though, and someone at Hillsboro Elementary School remembered her from a Baylor job fair. She started teaching kindergarten in Hillsboro that fall.
She says, “I taught in Hillsboro for a year, and I liked it there. Then I returned to Kerrville the summer of 2014 to visit my parents, and it just happened to be the weekend of the KISD job fair. Mom may have had something to do with that. They made an offer, but I decided to stay in Hillsboro. Then, when I was driving back north, I totaled my car. I couldn’t afford to buy a new car and to stay in Hillsboro, so I came home and took the position at Tally. It was meant to be. Frederick Buechner says, ‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’”
She says her husband, Dylan, remembers seeing her at the KISD job fair, but they didn’t meet until new teacher orientation. He was the new coach at Starkey, and he took her to Acapulco Restaurant for their first date, then to a Tivy football game for their second. They married in 2017, and have two Shih Tzu, Lucy and Tucker.
Warren says she and Dylan like to backpack and tent-camp in the mountains, and go to the beach. They are active at Southern Oaks, teaching a Bible class that follows her father’s sermon series. And right now they are looking for a house to buy, in Kerrville’s very tight market. She quotes Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”