2022 State Award Recipients
The TAGT state awards are presented in recognition of service, contribution and commitment to gifted education. Collectively, those being recognized are champions who are working to advance the world of gifted education. Individually, they are each making a difference in their communities and we are proud to recognize their efforts as the 2022 TAGT State Award Recipients. All recipients will be honored during giftED22, the TAGT Annual Conference.
2022 TAGT Educator of the Gifted
The TAGT Educator of the Gifted is Adriana Sanchez Cantu, Advanced Academics Specialist at Bel Sanchez Elementary in Alvin ISD. Adriana has served as the G/T teacher for the last 5 years providing engaging learning opportunities for students in grades K-5. Adriana holds an MBA, a Master's in Education, and a Bachelor's in Bilingual Education. She has been an educator for the last 30 years. She speaks Spanish, French, Italian, and English, and she teaches Latin to her students. She has been an advocate for all students and especially Gifted students. As a mother of a gifted boy, she understands the importance of allowing students to pursue their interests and challenge their minds. She collaborates with parents, students, and teachers to create and design deep and complex lessons. She holds a national certification in STEM education and has international teaching experience. Adriana continues her professional growth as part of the REMSL STEM cohort at Rice University
2022 TAGT Advocate for the Gifted
The TAGT Advocate of the Gifted is Blake Haygood, Advanced Academics Specialist for New Braunfels ISD. Blake is a graduate of the TAGT Emerging Leaders Program, a TAGT New Coordinator Boot Camp committee member and presenter, and the current Vice-Chair and incoming chair of the TAGT Parent Resource Committee. He is also a regular TAGT speaker and content contributor. His time in the classroom built awareness of speed bumps and barricades that can stifle gifted potential. When his PG son started Kindergarten, he saw these barriers from a parent perspective, which made him an even louder advocate for support in public education to help every student reach their full potential. In New Braunfels, Blake is proud of the improvements he’s worked towards: normalization of the D&C Framework, increased awareness of non-traditional gifted traits and 2E, HG, and PG kids, extensions and projects, and the construction of a G/T website complete with blog, resources, and professional development opportunities to support G/T learners, their families, and their teachers and administrators. Districts and families across Texas have visited his website for ideas and support. He’s made it his mission as a G/T leader to target systemic obstacles and misconceptions and remove them in time for future G/T children, regardless of their environment, age, or experience.
2022 TAGT Administrator for the Gifted
The TAGT Administrator of the Gifted is Debi Torres, Gifted Education Coordinator for the Austin Independent School District. She has spent most of her career working in gifted education as a teacher or district administrator. Debi is an avid enthusiast for equity and diversity topics and was instrumental in the creation of the Austin ISD talent identification program (Talent Explore) to support underserved student groups in advanced academic programs. Debi was a key member of the team that developed the 2022 Jacob Javits Grant proposal awarded to Austin ISD. Debi has presented at TAGT, NAGC, and SENG conferences and enjoys collaborating with others in all aspects of gifted education. Debi is a PhD student at Baylor University in the Educational Psychology’s Gifted and Talented program. She plans to use this opportunity to broaden her knowledge in the field to further her passion advocating and supporting gifted youth from all backgrounds across Texas and beyond.