Adame named 2023 teacher of the year

Biology teacher honored by colleagues, administrators, students for his hard work, enthusiasm, positivity


Gaby Esquivel

On Friday Dec. 16, advanced and AP biology teacher Gabriel Adame was honored as the 2023 Teacher of the Year. He was honored by principal Nicole Griffith and the assistant principals, as well as his fifth period students who were present for the surprise announcement.

Gaby Esquivel, staff reporter

During an advanced biology lecture, advanced and AP biology teacher, Gabriel Adame asks a challenging question. A student decides to raise their hand despite the difficulty level, answers correctly and Adame smiles. No matter how small a victory, Adame celebrates his students’ success. This positive attitude caused Adame to be named McCallum’s 2023 teacher of the year.

On Friday, Dec. 16, principal Nicole Griffith and the assistant principals traveled to Adame’s door to surprise him with a Teacher of the Year certificate, flowers and a gift card to celebrate his hard work over the course of the year and the faculty verdict that he should be recognized for it. 

The fact that I was chosen by my fellow colleagues, I am at a loss of words for that and I have learned so much here

— Gabriel Adame

Voting and nominations among teachers happened the week prior, leaving three finalists: Adame, English department chair Diana Adamson and English teacher James Hutcheson. Because of his admiration for the two other competitors, Adame was not expecting the award at all.

“Ms. Adamson is incredible,” Adame said. “I look up to her in so many ways, and she is a master at her content. Hutch is an incredible, humble, hardworking guy that would do anything for his kids. Just the fact that I was in the same presence as those two individuals, I was not very much expecting to get this award.”

Both Adamson and Hutcheson expressed congratulations to Adame in email messages to the faculty on Dec. 16, Adamson saying she was honored to be on the same list with Adame and Hutcheson saying he was one of the teachers who nominated Adame for the award.

Adame said he felt grateful that his colleagues thought to nominate and vote for him.

“I am just honored to represent McCallum in any positive facet,” Adame said. “The fact that I was chosen by my fellow colleagues, I am at a loss of words for that and I have learned so much here.”

Adame has been a teacher for eight years and has spent three years teaching at McCallum. However, his education career took a few years to develop fully.

Principal Nicole Griffith and friends crashed Gabe Adame’s fifth-period biology final with some big news. Video by Logan Davis.

“My brother was a math teacher and he got me a gig as an AVID tutor, so I tutored for about five years and I subbed for a couple of years,” Adame said.

Adame taught at a middle school when he first came to Austin and felt homesick being away from his family. But when he arrived at McCallum, his faculty team made him feel more motivated and comfortable.

“Everyone here is a catalyst to get you where you ought to be,” Adame said. “Seeing how determined and efficient teachers were, trying to get to their level by learning from them.”

During her fifth-period biology class, freshman Lili Escamilla witnessed the teacher-of-the-year ceremony and endorsed the faculty’s decision.

People who work hard should be rewarded with positivity and I can’t think of anyone who is more enthusiastic and happier than Mr. Adame

— Science department chair Niki Sorto

“He deserved the award because of how much his students love him and how good of a teacher he is,” Escamilla said. “He’s just always there when you need him and is always excited to help you and always hypes up the success of his students.”

Though she does admire his teaching skills, she is also aware of the great character Adame possesses.

“He is super kind-hearted and generous,” Escamilla said. “He is an amazing person.”

Freshman Emerson Meritt, another one of Adame’s students, added that she enjoys his company and bright personality.

“He is so sweet to everyone,” Meritt said, “and [he] always makes me laugh.”

Adame said that receiving the award was meaningful because it showed that the faculty appreciated him for who he is.

“That’s the big thing,” Adame said. “It also means that teachers do get an opportunity to be honored and to showcase their accomplishments.”

He added that he has learned a lot by observing teachers who are determined to improve their teaching to be efficient.

“Collaborating with them has been the biggest boost that I’ve had in my career,” he said.

Last year’s teacher of the year, science department chair Niki Sorto agreed with the 2023 decision and thought it was fun to pass the torch to none other than Adame, a fellow science teacher.

“[He] is relaxed and down to earth [and] he is willing to push for more content and rigor,” she said. 

Sorto added that Adame’s personality and willingness to help his students are exemplary.

“People who work hard should be rewarded with positivity, and I can’t think of anyone who is more enthusiastic and happier than Mr. Adame,” Sorto said.