HOUSTON TEACHER ‘HONORED’ NATIONALLY FOR STEPPING UP AFTER HURRICANE HARVEY
Kristen McClintock named latest Honoree in recognition series aimed at elevating teachers
WASHINGTON, D.C. - November 1, 2017
When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston on August 29, Kristen McClintock had one thing on her mind: students. The special education teacher from Westside High School made it her mission to make sure that all students, especially those with special needs, were properly taken care of despite being displaced from their homes.
McClintock transformed an isolated corner of the city’s cavernous George R. Brown Convention center into a “sensory space” that catered to students with autism, who are especially sensitive to noise. She also began soliciting donations from friends and family for noise-cancelling headphones, a necessity for special needs children, and helped organize a coalition of teachers to care for children in shelters around Houston.
“I knew there were kids who needed my help,” said McClintock. “A disaster of that nature is hard for any child to understand, much less a child with special needs. I wanted to help them understand and in time, recover.”
This month, McClintock will be celebrated by Honored, a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping great teachers in the classroom and to inspiring a new generation of talent to pursue teaching, for her contributions and dedication to education and her students. In addition to a $5,000 cash grant, McClintock’s story will be immortalized in a profile article by Texas Monthly executive editor, Skip Hollandsworth, who writes:
It’s hard to imagine anyone more determined to take care of her kids than Kristen. Now that school is back in session, she wakes up every weekday morning at 4:30, and she’s in her classroom at Westside High School promptly at six. For the next two hours, she prepares lesson plans for each of her eleven students, all of whom have been diagnosed with autism, a pervasive developmental disorder. Two hours later, the students begin coming through the door—a couple of them escorted by their parents, a couple of others escorted by teacher’s aides, and a few more who show up on their own. Kristen, who’s only five feet two inches tall, makes her way around the room, giving each student a cheerful hello.
For McClintock, working with special needs children is a bit of a calling. She spent 11 years with the Texas Young Autism Project, counseling autistic children. She turned to teaching in 2013 after many years of working closely with educators who felt overwhelmed.
“One of them said to me, ‘Kristen, there are so many kids with problems, and so little time to help them,” McClintock recalls. “We could use you.”
Despite the challenges that come with teaching special needs students, McClintock says she can’t imagine doing anything else. Her passion for teaching and for each of her students is blatant. Of McClintock, Deitra Ford-Robinson, a supervisor of the Houston school district’s special education program, says:
Because no two kids are the same, you have to take time to work with each of them, one on one, day after day. And because success some in very small steps, you must have an endless supply of patience. That’s Kristen. She fiercely loves her students, and she will do whatever she can for them.
The full story, along with photos of Kristen with her students, is available at honored.org/honoree/Kristen-McClintock.
Honored is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping great teachers in the classroom and to inspiring a new generation of talent to pursue teaching. Each month, Honored shines a spotlight on a teacher who has changed the life of a single student. The Honoree receives a $5,000 cash award, and Honored partners with a world-class writer to tell their story. Honorees are selected from K-12 teachers of all subjects at public, private and charter schools across the country. Honored’s National Advisory Board includes luminaries such as the internationally best-selling author Michael Lewis, DonorsChoose.org founder Charles Best, Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp, and FEED cofounder Lauren Bush Lauren.
For more information about Honored, visit honored.org. For regular updates on Honored and our monthly Honorees, follow and like us on facebook.com/Honored.org, twitter.com/honored and instagram.com/honored/.
Honored Press ContactChelsea O’Neal