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Denton ISD Announces 2023 Hawkeye Readers Endowment Winner

Evers Park Elementary fifth-grade teacher Jessica Sapp has been selected as the 2023 Denton ISD Hawkeye Readers Endowment Winner.

The award, which is named for Mildred Hawk, annually recognizes an elementary educator based on their outstanding literacy implementation. Every elementary and Pre-K campus in Denton ISD has the option of naming a Hawkeye Literacy Teacher to represent their campus based on their outstanding literacy implementation.

Campus winners complete an in-depth application which is sent to Jackie Jackson, executive director of the Denton Public School Foundation and her committee, to determine the recipient of the Hawkeye endowment.  The winner receives $500 to spend on their classroom to further support literacy implementation.

“To me, literacy is an art,” Ms. Sapp said in her application. “The greatest works of art are interpreted differently by the perspective of each viewer. Therefore, literacy can’t be one-dimensional, one-size-fits-all, or one literacy component over the other. There are layers and components that allow us to reach deeper, think more analytically, connect and create.”

Ms. Hawk started the Hawkeye Readers Program with Denton ISD in 1999. The program awarded the top third grade readers at each elementary school throughout the district.

In 2004, Ms. Hawk established the Hawkeye Readers Endowment. Through her generous contribution, funds were made available annually so that the Hawkeye Reader program may continue. Always a great planner, Ms. Hawk provided funding with the anticipated growth of the district in mind, thereby ensuring generations of Hawkeye Readers in Denton ISD.

Over the years, the literacy committee decided to move the student program to second grade. Every spring, two-second grade students from each elementary school are chosen by their teachers as the Hawkeye students of the year. They receive a monetary gift, a ribbon and a certificate.

The award was expanded in 2011 to acknowledge literacy teachers across the district.

“Ms. Sapp is a distinguished educator whose passion for literacy spills over onto her students,” said Erin Vennell, Evers Park Elementary principal. “She empowers them to have a thirst for knowledge and has incorporated peer-to-peer coaching as a part of the literacy block. She also utilizes student goal setting to build student agency and motivation for her students. Because of her innovative methods, students grow exponentially. Ms. Sapp is a dynamic teacher who strives for excellence in everything she does.”