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Meet the Secondary Teacher of the Year, Nelly Orozco Lascano

Each year, New Caney ISD selects a Teacher of the Year among all of the secondary teachers in the district. This distinction represents this teacher’s excellence in the profession, as well as their dedication to their students. Congratulations Ms. Orozco on this outstanding achievement!

On the Infinity Early College High School campus, Ms. Orozco stands out because of her infectious enthusiasm and passion for teaching. She is described as a caring and supportive teacher, who genuinely cares about students’ academic and personal well-being. Her guidance, mentorship, and emotional support are appreciated by her students as they are inspired to actively take ownership of their learning. 

This is Ms. Orozco’s fourth year at IECHS, but she has worked in NCISD since 2017, beginning her career as an aid at Kings Manor Elementary. At IECHS, Ms. Orozco teaches Spanish 1, Methodology of Academic and Personal Success, and EDUC 1300, which is a class that focuses on becoming a successful college student. Along with teaching multiple subjects, Ms. Orozco serves as the IECHS Service Learning Coordinator, which places the almost 400 IECHS students at sites to serve our community. 

When Ms. Orozco took on the role of Service Learning Coordinator, the list of sites consisted primarily of New Caney ISD campuses and local thrift shops. Now, due to the work of Ms. Orozco, students can volunteer at over 35 sites, including the Montgomery County Food Bank, the H-Town Dream Center, and Memorial Hermann Hospital. Ms. Orozco says that her goal is to have more sites around the community to give students options. 

“The schools are amazing for our students that want to be teachers or educators, but I thought, ‘what if it was me?,’” she said. “When I was a kid, I was into art, and I would have wanted to be involved in other things.” 

When she was younger, Ms. Orozco knew she wanted to teach at the college level. Growing up in Barranquilla, Columbia, she studied graphic design and when she graduated with her bachelor’s degree, her goal was to be an art history professor. For her master’s degree, she participated in an exchange program through Western Governors University, which brought her to Texas and ultimately, New Caney ISD. After finishing her master’s degree, Ms. Orozco taught in the IB program in Aldine ISD for a year before coming to IECHS. 

Now, as a teacher at IECHS, Ms. Orozco focuses on skills that will help her students both in and out of the classroom. 

“My main goal is for students to speak,” she said. “Of course, we do reading and writing, but my main thing is to get them to not be shy and talk, because if you ever travel, that's what you will need. It is now our second week, and my students are already having simple conversations in Spanish. It is super rewarding to me.” 

When asked about a memorable moment, Ms. Orozco described a time when the school was gathered for an assembly, and when she greeted the school in Spanish, all of the students were able to respond to her in Spanish. 

“It is rewarding to see them not only when they are freshman, but when they are in eleventh and twelfth grade still greeting me in Spanish and are able to go even further in conversation,” she said. 

According to IECHS Principal Patricia Beal, what makes Ms. Orozco a great educator is her ability to establish supportive relationships with students by demonstrating empathy and being sensitive to their struggles and challenges. 

“Ms. Orozco is a culture shaper,” Beal said. “She contributes to shaping the overall school culture. Her attitude encourages others to embrace positivity, collaboration, and a focus on student success.”

Ms. Orozco admits that winning Secondary Teacher of the Year was a surprise, but she is happy that she can be a positive role model to her students. 

“A lot of our students come from families that didn’t graduate from college, and some parents didn’t even graduate from high school,” she said. “I have students with parents who don’t speak English. But, when these kids graduate, they graduate with an associates degree. They have so many more opportunities to go further in their education. I feel that I am a good example for students because they can think, ‘she wasn’t born here, she didn’t go to school here, she still has a thick accent, and she did it.’ When Skero’s presented the big check, all I could think about was if I can do it, they can go much further.”