Francisco Vara-Orta, TCTA 2012-13 Silver Apple Media Award winner (print, 50K plus)Francisco Vara-Orta

Education Reporter
San Antonio-Express News

TCTA named Francisco Vara-Orta, education reporter for the San Antonio-Express News, as a recipient of its 2012-13 Silver Apple Media Award for excellence in education reporting. Vara-Orta, who won in the category for print publications that have circulations of 50,000-plus, was chosen because his work promotes understanding of teachers and Texas public schools and improves communication between educators and the community.

The awards committee, made up of TCTA members from across the state, commended Vara-Orta for the range of topics he covers. “Mr. Vara-Orta covers a diverse array of topics and challenges that many districts face,” says Ella Vargas, a second-grade teacher from Bay City who serves on the awards committee.   

His work includes a report on superintendent turnover in the San Antonio area, an article about the SA Reads literacy program, and the inspiring story of a teacher who was able to turn her classroom over to a former student when she retired.

Vara-Orta has been a reporter at the Express-News since February 2011. He has also worked as a staff writer and reporter for the Austin Business Journal, Los Angeles Business Journal, Los Angeles Times, Austin American-Statesman, Laredo Morning Times and La Prensa, a bilingual newspaper in San Antonio. He holds a degree in English and communication arts from St. Mary’s University.

“I’m honored that my work at the San Antonio Express-News was selected for this award, and I will share it with my team. I’m only able to do the work I do because of them,” says Vara-Orta. “Having a team is a great resource that not everyone has because newspapers are shrinking. From what I hear in conversation with the education community, we share the feeling that we are doing more with less. But the Express-News is committed to education coverage, and that shows in the work that my colleagues and I do.”

TCTA honored Vara-Orta and other award winners Jan. 24, 2013, at an awards banquet during the TCTA Convention in Austin. Watch video of Vara-Orta accepting the award.