ENNIS — Ennis native Brent Vrla, sixth-grade math teacher at Dorie Miller Intermediate School, is a finalist for Association of Texas Professional Educators Educator of the Year in the secondary category.

The winner will be announced at the ATPE state convention March 25-27 in Austin. ATPE is the leading educators’ association in the state and the largest independent association for public school educators in the nation.

Vrla received the letter last Saturday saying that he was a finalist for the honor, and it began with:  “Congratulations! You are one of three finalists in the secondary category for the 2009-2010 ATPE Educator of the Year Award. The fact that you are a finalist speaks highly of your qualifications and dedication to your profession. We are proud that you represent the Association of Texas Professional Educators.”

“I am extremely honored to be nominated,” he said. “There are three people in the state that are finalists for it. It’s very tough competition and so I really want to represent my self and my district to the best of my ability.”

Vrla, who attended St. John Catholic School through the eighth grade, and is a 1995 graduate of Ennis High School, received his associate’s degree from Navarro Junior College and a bachelor’s of science in informational systems at University of Texas, Arlington. He completed his master’s degree in education  from Texas A&M Commerce in 2008. He is the son of Milton and Brenda Vrla of Ennis.

Vrla taught seventh grade for one year at O.P. Norman Junior High School in Kaufman before moving back to Ennis. He has taught in Ennis for the past six years.

Asked what his goals are for his educational career, Vrla has definite plans.

“I received my certification as a principal and my goal is to move up in administration,” he said. “I keep wanting to move on up to the next level – I’m a high achiever.”

He expressed his greatest fulfillment working in education.

“I really love seeing students succeed,” he said. “I love to see them achieve things that they thought they couldn’t achieve – like watching the expression on the face of someone that had never received an A in math and then to achieve that is really great.”

Vrla also gives accolades to his parents and other family members for their encouragement.

“I’m thankful for my parents for their support and encouragement through the years,” he said. “And I really enjoy working with my co-workers. They, along with the entire school district, are very encouraging to me.”

Vrla has one sister, Brittany, who is married to Kenneth Moore, a detective in Terrell, and an aunt and uncle, James and Sandra Williford, whom he says he regards as second parents.

He is the grandson of Albina and the late Milton Vrla Jr. and the late Frank and Louise Jurica.

Vrla was named Teacher of the Year for the EISD last year and was a finalist the preceding year.

According to the letter from ATPE, final interviews and photo-video sessions are scheduled Thursday, March 25, at the Austin Convention Center during the 30th Annual ATPE State Convention.

The other two finalists in the secondary category are Sonia Noyola of Corpus Christi ISD and Deborah Bellew of Irving ISD. 

Contact Vrla at Brent.Vrla@Ennis.K12.tx.us

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.