In August, Michael Twigg ('03) was named the Texas Region 4 Secondary Teacher of the Year. Twigg was one of 90 nominees in Region 4, which encompasses 54 school districts with over a million students and is the largest of 20 regional education service centers in Texas. He has taught English classes at Waller Junior High School since graduating with a Psychology major and an English minor.
His growth into the challenging and caring teacher he is today—which also includes teaching developmental writing at Lone Star College-Tomball—began at the University of Houston in the course Religion and Personality with Dr. James McGehee. “Dr. McGehee realized right off the bat that I was coming from high school, where I never really had to apply myself, to a situation where I had to like never before,” said Twigg.
Twigg had never seen himself as an especially strong student until he was encouraged by one of his classmates, Josh Crank (’02, Computer Science). Crank, who was in The Honors College already, asked to borrow Michael’s notes, which were essentially a transcript of Dr. McGehee’s class. “He told me I had the best notes he had ever seen,” recalled Twigg, “but I was too embarrassed to tell him I wrote down every word the professor said because I was afraid of looking dumb.”
Crank told him, “You should be in The Honors College,” and Michael took the suggestion. Once he was in, he found the Human Situation sequence immensely challenging—and a spur to growth. “Going from Antiquity to Modernity in one year forced me to learn and hone skills I never knew I had or that I could develop,” Twigg said. “I realized that anyone, with determination, could do anything they set their mind to doing.”
His experience with professors in The Honors College who challenged and took an interest in him—including Dr. Andrew Haas and Dr. Cynthia Howard—helped in his own teaching, as well. “I have to realize what a student needs and to help them out,” Twigg said. “I have high expectations, but I teach my students how to believe in themselves and find the answers despite any barriers.”