Fifth grade students at Osborne Elementary in the Acres Homes neighborhood of north Houston, listen intently to their teacher Chavis Mitchell. They do it despite attention from reporters with television cameras and digital recorders. Mitchell is being commended for his work in pushing his students to excel academically.
District administrator Joselyn Mouton says Mitchell is a natural with his students.
"He's constantly monitoring and observing what his kids are doing. You can see that he uses words to really push the kid's thinking. So I can see just by observing his classroom, that he has done an excellent job of really designing instruction, rigorous instruction that meets the needs of all of his kids."
He is one of over 9,000 teachers in the district to get a bonus. Superintendent Dr Terry Grier came to the campus to congratulate Mitchell.
"We're so proud of him and all of our teachers that were recognized and received this bonus. It also helps us retain our best teachers in HISD. This is less than we gave the year before, because we had less money as a result of the state budget cuts. We gave out $41 million the previous year, and I think this year its $35 million."
MItchell seemed a bit overwhelmed by all the attention.
"I don't know what all the fuss is about. I mean, I'm just doing my job, and I do it everyday. So I try to do my best, because I know setting a firm foundation for them now, will lead to them being successful in the future."
He calls the ASPIRE program a great incentive for hard working teachers.
"It motivates them. Of course, we're already motivated as teachers to do out best, to instill the right values in our children. But you know, getting that extra perk, really pushes us as teachers to make sure that we are giving the best everyday."
The average bonus was over $3,000, but Mitchell was one of four teachers to receive the highest payout of over $10,000.