Humanities Texas announced today that Elizabeth Close of Anderson High School is one of three recipients of the 2017 Humanities Texas Award for Outstanding Early-Career Teaching.

State Rep. Donna Howard presented Close with her award during a ceremony today at Anderson High School.

Humanities Texas presents annual statewide awards to encourage excellence in teaching and recognize Texas classroom teachers who have made exemplary contributions in teaching, curriculum development and extracurricular programming. The organization received nearly 700 nominations for the 2017 awards.

Close, who earned her master’s degree in education from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014, has been a teacher for two years. Her courses at Anderson High School include on-level and pre-AP world geography and ethnic studies. Close serves as the ninth-grade social studies team lead and sponsors the school’s Model United Nations team.

"The real challenge is to invigorate learning for students every day,” said Anderson High School principal Sammi Harrison. “Elizabeth Close has a unique ability to breathe life into history and connect it to current issues in a meaningful way for students. She makes the learning vibrant and empathetic."

At Anderson, Close spearheaded the ethnic studies class that focuses on minority rights movements, civil rights movements and community issues. The course quickly grew from one class to three classes. Close is currently working with AISD to develop and implement the course districtwide.

“My approach to teaching is steeped in critical theory, cultural relevance, mutual teacher/student humanization and valuing what my students bring with them to the classroom,” said Close. “I do everything in my power to get my students to be able to think critically about the world around them.”

Close will receive a $5,000 cash award, with an additional $500 for Anderson High School to purchase instructional materials.

“Humanities Texas is pleased to recognize the achievements of Elizabeth Close and Anderson High School,” said Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette. “Close inspires and motivates her students to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

Humanities Texas is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its mission is to advance education through programs that improve the quality of classroom teaching, support libraries and museums, and create opportunities for lifelong learning for all Texans.

Humanities Texas is currently accepting nominations for the 2018 Outstanding Teaching Awards. Additional information about Humanities Texas and its teacher award program is available at