The creative teaching strategies of IDEA San Juan College Preparatory art teacher Cristina Correa has led to her being honored Thursday as Texas Public Charter School’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

The statewide organization represents 180 charter districts and more than 700 campuses, according to a news release from TPCSA.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted all of IDEA Public School’s instruction to be taught through online platforms since March — and art is a difficult subject to teach students through a screen.

However, Correa, an art teacher for 12 years, took it as an opportunity to innovate and exercise her student’s imagination.

Correa assigned her students a series of prompts she designed to train their innovation skills by having to improvise their art supplies from what they had at home. Some of the materials her students ended up using included Kool-Aid, makeup and hot Cheetos dust.

Correa is a founding fellow of the TPCSA Teacher Advocacy Leadership Institute program, which gives educators across the state an opportunity to collaborate with policy and advocacy experts and elected officials to become advocates for students and their families.

Recognized as a coworker who is active on campus according to the release, Correa has coordinated school events with state-elected officials and led voting registration efforts.

“Especially during a school year that has presented so many challenges, Cristina Correa has exemplified the best that teachers have to offer, minimizing stress for students and parents and maximizing quality of learning,” said TPCSA CEO Starlee Coleman. “She is also a fearless advocate for her families and for students statewide who need and deserve great educational opportunities.”