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Belton ISD Celebrates 2024 Teachers of the Year

Belton ISD is excited to announce the 23 distinguished educators chosen as Teachers of the Year for the 2023–2024 academic year. These remarkable teachers represent their campus or area of specialization and were honored for demonstrating dedication, creativity, and passion in their roles and inspiring students to achieve new levels of academic success. 

The district then narrowed the selection down to one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year to represent BISD and compete at the regional-level Teacher of the Year award. Lakewood Elementary third-grade teacher and BISD alum Rachel Francis was named the district’s elementary teacher of the year and Belton High School English teacher Sierra Beckstrom was chosen as the secondary teacher of the year. The district made the announcements during surprise visits to each teacher’s classroom on May 21, 2024. 

Francis’s passion for teaching began early when she played school with her younger siblings during summer breaks. She fondly remembers receiving a pretend school play set for Christmas one year. As a third-generation educator, she had the chance to spend time in various classrooms and work with students from diverse backgrounds. She witnessed her father's career progression from bus driver to teacher and eventually to administrator, earning his doctorate along the way. 

“My worldview of education was widened, and I graduated with not only a degree but also with a valuable perspective to help me be the best teacher possible. After graduating, I knew exactly where I wanted to be,” Francis stated.

Francis is humbled to return to the district that shaped her into the educator she is today. A product of Belton ISD, she attended Lakewood Elementary, Lake Belton Middle School, and Belton High School. Her father served the district for many years, and her mother-in-law currently serves as an instructional coach at Lakewood Elementary.

Beckstrom's inspiration to become an educator came from observing her mother's dedication as a paraprofessional. She discovered a passion for teaching while volunteering at the schools where her mother worked. 

"The moment a student grasps a topic or skill, whether quickly or after great effort, is one of my greatest joys in life," Beckstrom says.

She continues, "A teacher's effectiveness is closely tied to student participation. Being named Teacher of the Year is meaningful to me because it reflects the strong collaboration I've built with my students." Beckstrom has started collecting star-shaped beads in a jar, each representing a graduating senior she has mentored. These beads also symbolize her future goals; once the jar is full, she plans to take a break from teaching to pursue her master's and doctorate degrees.

Regional Teachers of the Year are announced in August. Last year, Lake Belton High School teacher Kate Kelly was named the Region 12 Secondary Teacher of the Year.

A complete list of educators recognized as 2024 BISD Teachers of the Year includes:

Belton Early Childhood - London Yepez

James L. Burrell - Lauren LeBlanc

Charter Oak - Gabrielle Kirkland

Chisholm Trail - Keilah Singleton

High Point - Steven Kidd

Lakewood - Rachel Francis

Leon Heights - Shelley Cheatham

Miller Heights - Lori Vance

Joe M. Pirtle - Teresa Reynolds

Southwest - Kathy Runnels

Sparta - Brenda Batts

Alice J. Tarver - Lindsey Klinchuk

Belton Middle - Alisha Baldinger

Lake Belton Middle - Kristi Janczack

North Belton Middle - Elizabeth Cancel

South Belton Middle - Jacquelyn McBride

Coach (NBMS) - Kaylee Barney

Fine Arts (LBMS) - Jordan Dolotina

CTE (LBHS) - Lori Hobbs

Special Programs (LBHS) - Amanda Maroney

Belton New Tech - Gimel Peterman

Belton High - Sierra Beckstrom

Lake Belton High - Lori Hobbs


June 4, 2024