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Riverside HS teacher wins Texas Medical Association award

Riverside High School teacher Sergio Estrada was among three Texas educators to earn a Distinguished Award worth Sergio Estrada $10,000 from the Texas Medical Association (TMA) this spring for sparking students' interest in medicine and science by sharing their energy and enthusiasm for science through creative and innovative methods in the classroom.

Estrada earned the 2021 Ernest and Sarah Butler Award for Excellence in Science Teaching from TMA, the nation’s largest state medical society that aims to improve the health of all Texans and provide solutions to challenges encountered by physicians in patient care.

For winning TMA’s Distinguished Award, Estrada will receive $7,000, as well as a $3,000 resource grant to support Riverside High School’s science programs, TMA officials said.

“Passion and enthusiasm are contagious, and students feed off that energy,” said Estrada, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education and was one of Ysleta ISD’s top five finalists for 2021-22 Secondary Teacher of the Year.

“People seem to think that science is difficult, but I believe with the right support and by seeing the connection to the world around you, science can be extremely rewarding,” he added.

Estrada, a physics/chemistry/engineering teacher at Riverside High School, has won numerous recognitions over the past few years for his teaching performance, including a 2017 Yale University Educator award.

He was also the only El Paso educator to be selected for the prestigious LiftOff Summer Institute by NASA’s Texas Space Grant Consortium in 2019; and in the fall of 2020, he was interviewed by the National Mindset Innovation Network to share his strategies for engaging students during distance learning.

In the classroom, Estrada connects science to everyday life – for example, he explains how he received second-degree burns while using a metal spatula to make spaghetti; and demonstrates physics concepts, such as pulling a tablecloth out from under a place-setting.

Estrada incorporates various techniques to reach different learning styles, such as music, video creation, labs, and writing assignments. He also helps students find summer internships to expose them to careers in science and to develop their passions.

Since 1990, the TMA’s Ernest and Sarah Butler Award for Excellence in Science Teaching has awarded more than $600,000 to educators and their schools. For more information on the TMA’s teaching awards, visit