Three KIPP Texas Teachers win Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award

The Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes outstanding educators from across the 200+ schools in the national KIPP network. Only ten educators receive this annual award, and this year, three of the recipients are from KIPP Texas! 

This prestigious award is named in honor of Harriett Ball, the master educator who shaped the creation of KIPP. This year’s Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award Winners from KIPP Texas are:

Shelby Powers 

9th Grade- Algebra 1 & Algebraic Reasoning 

KIPP East End High School, Houston, TX 

Ms. Powers’ leadership and teaching style have received perfect marks from her co-workers and a nearly perfect score from her students. Her math students began the year struggling in math but ended the year with the highest Algebra 1 State score of any other KIPP Texas school, thanks to her tutelage. Outside the classroom, Ms. Powers sponsors the Woods Projects, a program that teachers our student’s survival skills both in life and in the woods, such as starting a fire, putting up a tent, fishing techniques, and overall survival techniques. Last year, Houston experienced a severe winter storm that caused millions to lose power but despite not having power herself, she was the first teacher to check-in with the rest of the team and respond to any of her students’ needs. One particular students’ family was out of food, without hesitation she was able to find enough food, drove to their home, and provided the necessary resources for them to survive the terrible winter storm. The constant evidence of Ms. Powers’ selflessness and love for our students is just incredible and heartfelt. 

“Ms. Powers builds strong relationships with students and families and can connect with them in an especially poignant way. She’s a constant source of support to KIPPsters.” – Olvin Carias, KIPP Texas Public Schools- Houston School Leader 

Jose Hernandez 

AP + IB Spanish (11th and 12th grades) 

KIPP University Prep High School, San Antonio, TX 

Mr. Hernandez is one of the most successful teachers in UPrep history. In 2019, 2020, and 2021, 100% of his students passed the school’s Higher Level IB Spanish B course. He aided in founding the Hispanic National Honor Society and taught every level of Spanish at KIPP University Prep for the past ten years. Mr. Hernandez creates a relationship with students by allowing them to share cultural experiences and learn from one another. His classrooms are structured based on his deep knowledge of students’ strengths and weaknesses, encouraging them to support each other.  

 “Jose shares multiple identity markers with our student body which several students said made them feel more comfortable and connected to him as their teacher. He centers on historically marginalized voices while considering cultural connections and differences when planning lessons with other colleagues.” – Abby Morton-Garland, KIPP University Prep School Leader 

 Martina Ramos 

8th Grade Reading Teacher 

KIPP Aspire Academy, San Antonio, TX 

 As a San Antonio native, Ms. Ramos fully understands the educational rigors needed to ensure student success. She believes in focusing on the “whole” child to help them achieve greatness. That approach is why Ms. Ramos consistently outperforms her peers in every measurable assessment. Even with her excellence, she’s always willing to help or model any skills she assigns to teachers she coaches. Ms. Ramos has worked with every grade level and several different subjects throughout her 11-year tenure at the school.  

“From the moment you walk into Ms. Ramos’ classroom, you can distinguish her inclusive environment by cultural and identity affirming representation in books, content, and language. Ms. Ramos works endlessly to value her students’ opinions, ideas, and thoughts by providing opportunities and space for them to advocate and use their voices.” – Jaime Jaen, San Antonio School Leader  


If you are reading this and would like to be a part of the KIPP Texas Team and Family, Check out our careers page to learn how you can become a Big KIPPster at KIPP Texas!


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