age: 30 | Teacher 9th–12th grade STEM | Texarkana Independent School District
Iconic educator Rita Pierson said, “Kids can’t learn from teachers they don’t like.” Holly Mooneyham of Texas High has a different take on this philosophy: kids can’t learn from teachers they don’t relate to. “Sometimes students have misconceptions of teachers,” she said, “and letting them know the struggles I faced and how that led me to achieve my success . . . it allows us to bond for life. I’ve been led to use my story and influence to push my students and reach them on levels that are important to them.”
Holly’s experiences as a student are what propelled her into her career as an educator. “I had a troubled childhood that included a stint in foster care and family chaos with wicked stepparents, alcoholism, and drug addiction,” she explained. “I was one of 10 children. My refuge was school where teachers built relationships with me that made me feel loved and wanted. They were the calm while family life was the storm. My mom has always said that I wanted to be a teacher from the beginning, and experience in high school only solidified my career choice.”
Best advice you’ve ever received:
“IF YOU DON’T BEND, YOU’LL BREAK.” — FELLOW TEACHER TESSA RAY
Many of Holly’s students will be the first in their families to graduate high school, and this is another way they relate to their teacher: Holly was the first in her family to obtain a high school degree—and then a bachelor’s, and then a master’s. “I want [my students] to know that having an education is so beneficial,” she said—a lesson she teaches with her life.
Holly’s greatest professional achievement to-date has been being named the Region 8 Teacher of the Year in 2016. “I had only been teaching for four years and thought I was dreaming,” she recalled. But even greater honors are sure to be in her future; Holly says, through teaching, she is “living [her] dream,” and she hopes to continue her career for many years to come.
Holly has been married to her high school sweetheart, Johnny Mooneyham, Jr., for 13 years. As a couple, they enjoy travelling and taking road trips to Dallas Cowboy football games and to concerts. She also enjoys reading for pleasure, gathering with friends, catching up on her favorite Netflix shows, playing games, and floating in her new pool.
Besides her daily service in the classroom, Holly gives back to the community through other on-campus roles, as National Honor Society sponsor and former Key Club sponsor. In these positions, she has led students in service work for Race for the Cure®, Relay for Life, CASA 5K Run, and Dash 4 Cash, and the local foster care system.
Name something about you that very few people know:
“What others may not know about me is that my guilty pleasure is watching reality TV shows like Big Brother of which I’ve been an avid fan for years!” ￼