Rookie of the Year

Fort Bend ISD names Communication Sciences and Disorders alumna rookie teacher of the year


Laura Elise Nommensen, a Sugarland elementary school teacher and Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate from The University of Texas at Austin, has been named Rookie of the Year for the 2011-2012 school year at Settlers Way Elementary School. The Fort Bend Independent School District also announced that Nommensen is one of three winners for district-wide Rookie of the Year honors in teaching at the elementary school level.

Nommensen graduated from the university in May 2009 with a bachelor's in deaf education and continued her studies with a master's degree in deaf education at Texas Woman's University in Dallas.

Kristi Durham, principal of Settlers Way Elementary School, said she chose the 25-year-old native of Houston because of Nommensen's positive attitude and outstanding work as a special education teacher for the regional day school program.

"She truly has a passion for what she does and it is evident in her students' achievements," said Durham. "Ms. Nommensen differentiates her instruction by using a variety of strategies that include flexible grouping, graphic organizers, and hands-on activities. She teaches small group-guided reading and small group-guided math every day and has her groups based according to need."

Nommensen said she first became interested in deaf education while in elementary school when she was paired with a deaf student through a buddy program in the first grade. As the program continued the next few years, Nommensen learned sign language and spent more time with other deaf children on field trips and similar outings.

She plans to continue working with elementary-aged children but is open to teaching other grade levels and learning additional teaching methods.

"I've already seen a student learn his first word and sign – I cried tears of joy that day," said Nommensen. "Who else gets to teach children the meaning of language and communication and watch it emerge before their eyes?"

When asked what advice to give current students in the department, Nommensen replied that choosing a forward-thinking program to begin a teaching career is of vital importance.

"My district has a mentor program for all first year teachers called Project INVEST and I have my mentor on campus on here with me that teaches general education. She really provides me a great role model, besides the fact that she's an Aggie," said a chuckling Nommensen. "Having a mentor is really a great way to get advice and learn from a great teacher. The first year is a rollercoaster to say the least, so I recommend a program that has this kind of support."

Nommensen will receive her award at a ceremonial banquet in May.

For more information, contact: Lauren Phillips, 512-471-2182 or Nick Hundley, 512-471-7209