How TCEA Began

by Lori Gracey

It was the 1979 – 1980 school year, and across the state of Texas, a number of educators were interested in investigating, or already involved in, utilizing computers. Several of these educators decided they needed to take some instruction in programming (because you had to program everything you wanted to do on the computer at that time), so they enrolled in a night course at North Texas State University, taught by Dr. James L. Poirot.

Two of these educators, Vicki Smith and Diana Radspinner, stayed after class one night and initiated the conversation, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to share ideas and network information among the teachers in the state using or interested in technology?” Dr. Poirot responded that he would be willing to organize a meeting to discuss this if they were willing to do a “little” paperwork. The paperwork soon became an immense undertaking as these two educators from Dallas ISD mailed out fliers, sketched out a logo, and created an organizational name.

On May 3, 1980, an organizational meeting took place and was attended by 135 state educators. Those attending the meeting joined TCEA (dues were $10.00). By the end of May, the TCEA bank account had a balance of $982.50.

Then, on October 4, 1980, TCEA held its first official meeting at North Texas State University. A constitution was adopted and the first board of directors was elected. Following that, the first newsletter was published and the organization formally exhibited with its first official booth, table, and handouts at the National Education Computing Conference (now ISTE) in Denton in the summer of 1981. There were just five areas with one or two area directors representing each geographic section of the state at the time. The association hired a part-time executive director, Robert Knight, who worked out of his home in Lubbock for a long time.

As the organization grew, more changes followed:

    • 1983 – 1984: Separated the secretary and treasurer positions under President Sandy Pratscher
    • 1986 – 1987: Added a sixth area director position under President Jennabeth Bogard
    • 1999 – 2000: Purchased our first building and changed to 20 area directors under President Cheri Halderman
    • 2001 – 2002: Paid off building under President Lori Gracey
    • 2002 – 2003: Doubled the size of the convention center used under President Sherrilyn Phelps
    • 2004: Purchased a new, larger building under President Janice Trompler
    • 2010: Paid off building under President Candace Threadgill
    • 2014: Purchased a new, larger building with conference facilities under President Kari Rhame


TCEA has now grown from a very small group of dedicated Texas computer teachers to more than 16,500 educators around the world and recently celebrated its 35th birthday in May by giving away $20,000 in prizes to its members. We look forward to a very bright future working with you to innovate teaching and learning.

How long have you been a member? What’s your favorite memory of TCEA over the years? Please share your comments below.

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Lisa Squires May 11, 2020 - 7:38 am

I have been a TCEA member for about 4 years. My favorite part of this organization are the information filled conferences that I have attended. The technology tips and tricks as well as the plethora of resources have been extremely helpful in providing support for teachers and students in my school.

Chandler Cox May 11, 2020 - 7:55 am

I have been a TCEA member since February of this year, getting my first membership with my first attendance of the TCEA conference in Austin.

Having just completed my MEd in Educational Technology, getting to attend the TCEA conference on Austin in February, and have the opportunity to learn so much and to meet so many great educators was wonderful.


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