2016 Texas Outstanding Educator
Dr. Jana Willis
Professor of Instructional Design and Technology
University of Houston - Clear Lake
As Professor of Instructional Design and Technology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Dr. Jana Willis is tasked with teaching education students how to incorporate technology into existing lesson plans. About 15 years ago, at the recommendation of a fellow professor and long-time PLT facilitator, Dr. Willis attended a workshop and was inspired to use the PLT Environmental Education Activity Guide for PreK-8 as one of her course textbooks. Since then, Dr. Willis has continued using the PreK-8 Guide and two PLT secondary modules in her courses, training over 10,000 preservice educators in PLT.
Dr. Willis has conducted longitudinal studies and found that teaching candidates utilize their PLT materials in other education courses and during their student teaching. In addition, she has collected data on how her graduates are currently using PLT in their classrooms. Jana has presented her research at a variety of conferences such as the North American Association for Environmental Education, the PLT International Coordinators’ Conference, the Texas Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference, and even the prestigious American Educational Research Association. She has published her research relating to technology, PLT and environmental education in numerous national and international journals.
In addition to her work with preservice students, Dr. Willis has made extensive contributions to PLT at the national level. After a couple of semesters of using PLT, she shared with the National office about how her students were integrating technology into their PLT activities. National PLT recognized the importance and soon initiated a committee to incorporate technology into the PreK-8 Activity Guide, something that others were not doing in the environmental education field at that time. Dr. Willis and her team of Texans were the driving force behind the integration of technology into the revised PLT activity guide and her hallmark is on nearly every page of the book.
Since then she has served on additional committees at the national level including the Urban and Community Forestry Resources committee. Currently Dr. Willis is a reviewer for the document Implementing PLT in Higher Education Settings: A Resource Guide. The guide, which was presented in a session at the 2016 PLT International Coordinators’ Conference, is intended to provide ideas, methods, and resources for higher education faculty and educators to integrate PLT into their educational programs. Dr. Willis’ leadership on this committee will be instrumental to Texas PLT as we strive to see our program utilized by more teaching programs in the future.
Now Accepting Nominations for next year's Outstanding Texas Educator
Each year, Texas PLT selects an Outstanding Educator. This is someone who goes "above and beyond" while using PLT in his/her classroom. The recipients receive $1,000.00, a plaque, and are invited to serve on the PLT Advisory Committee for two years. Nominations are sent to the National PLT office for the opportunity for national recognition.
Please completely fill out the nomination form and include all necessary documents and photos and email the packet to us.
Outstanding Educator Form
If you know someone who deserves this award, please follow the guidelines for nomination and submit to the state co-coordinators.
Anyone interested in nominating a candidate should start collecting photos and other documents now.
Contact us for more information.