2015 – 2016
Teachers of the Year

19 Regional and State Teacher of the Year awards in 25 years!

District Teacher of the Year, Elementary: Cynthia Cooksey, Dr. Pablo Perez Elementary

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As the school librarian, she says, her role is not to provide answers but to provide the tools so students can research and discover answers on their own. She is an avid learner herself. Last year, she took on robotics. She earned a grant from the McAllen Education Foundation and formed an after-school robotics club. Known as the Coding Chicks, her team entered a national robotics competition and took first in the state and second in the country. She also “flipped” her library. She created a series of instructional videos for students to watch prior to coming to the library. This allowed students to get to work more quickly and use their time more productively. Storytime is something not to be missed at Perez. Ms. Cooksey has been known to use puppets and has even dressed up for a story about pirates.  She finds joy in the faces and testimonials of students who enter her library.

District Teacher of the Year, Secondary: Debra Cavazos, Dorothea Brown Middle School.

Cavazos_Debra5Ms. Cavazos says she still experiences joy and fulfillment in working with students after 26 years in the classroom. As a math teacher, she says the most significant learning occurs in situations that are meaningful and student related. Although she likes it when students’ eyes light up when they finally “get” a concept, what really makes her day is when a student admits they actually “like” math. This is especially true when she works with recent immigrant students or those from Regional School for the Deaf. She has coached UIL Number Sense and became a Master Mathematics Teacher in 2014. This is her second campus teacher of the year award, having won at Thigpen in 2000. She considers it a tremendous honor to know she made a difference in the life of a child.

Elementary Teachers of the Year

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Francisca Alvarez Elementary
Krystle N. Treviño

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Her philosophy is a simple one; she teaches her students the way she would want her own children to be taught. Now in her fifth year, she understands the challenges and struggles for families who live in the Alvarez community. In fact, she grew up in a similar environment. She strives to tie lessons to real-life situations and likes activities in her fourth-grade class to be hands-on and creative. She has a mini-science lab in her class so they can experiment whenever possible. Being resourceful is a must, she says. She recycles material, looks for donations and applies for grants whenever possible. In fact, she and her peers collaborated on a grant they received from the McAllen Junior League last fall.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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James Bonham Elementary
Kristen Treviño

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Villarreal has always followed what she loved. And her love is for music. She remembers the joy of playing instruments in elementary music class as a young girl, then performing in the band in secondary school. In fact, she was named Music Student of the Year at the University of Texas at Brownsville. It was only natural for her to pursue music as a career. She has taught music since 2002. It feels good, she says, to know that music can change the mood of a child that is sad or having a bad day. She believes that music brings people and cultures together. It also inspires young minds which is a key to a better future.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Dr. Carlos Castañeda Elementary
Veronica Quintero

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]For Ms. Salinas, teaching is her second career. She earned an Accounting Degree at UT Pan American and worked with a CPA firm and the Hidalgo County Auditors. Then she decided to return to school to become certified in Early Childhood and Bilingual Education. She entered the world of teaching kindergarten and hasn’t looked back. She came to McAllen ISD in 1998 at the old Thigpen and transferred to Castaneda when the school opened in 2001. She loves to be involved. She has served on multiple committees and as a mentor. She credits her parents with instilling in her a strong work ethic. As the oldest of five children, she saw first-hand how her parents would prioritize education and make sacrifices for their children. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Jose De Escandon Elementary
Norma Martinez

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She has been teaching 13 years and says no year, or day even, has been the same. Every child is different and deserves to be taught in a way that suits them, she says. This can include shaking things up a little in her classroom, even being a little silly at times but staying within the context of the lesson. She sees her classroom as a place where children come to learn, interact and be heard. A psychology major from UT Brownsville, she has taught at Escandon since 2005. She had orchestrated several staff development activities in dual language and campus technology. She considers the campus to be her second home and takes great pride in being part of a family of teachers.  [/ultimate_modal]
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Victor Fields Elementary
Diana Castillo

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Mr. Lira has enjoyed an eclectic background. He has worked as a life guard, sold office equipment to maquiladoras in Mexico, and worked in the hotel industry. In addition, through student-exchange programs, he has attended schools in St. Petersburg, Russia and Finland. In 2002, he became a teacher. From early on, he saw teaching as a profession that could profoundly influence the lives of others regardless of their economic status. He sees his role as a pre-kinder teacher as crucial because his children are often embarking on their first educational experience. The signs that his efforts are working are subtle but significant. A child who picks up a book on his own and asks if they can read it to him is one. He is currently working toward a Masters in Instructional Technology Leadership and his Principal’s Certificate.  

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Reynaldo G. Garza Elementary
Thelma Davila

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She admits that, 10 years ago, she would never have thought teaching would be her calling. She began teaching in 2002 and came to McAllen in 2004. Before she entered the classroom, she spent nine years in law enforcement. She says her passion for teaching is fueled by her children’s successes. Many of us spend a lifetime wondering what our purpose on Earth is, she says. Her students have taught her that her purpose in the classroom is to show day-to-day kindness, sincerity and laughter. In her philosophy of teaching, she wrote strong teacher-student relationships must come first and then academic success will swiftly follow.

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Leonelo H. Gonzalez Elementary
Mia Tijerina

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]For as long as she can remember, Ms. Ramon says teaching has been her passion. When she was nine, she would organize games of “school” with her friends and, of course, she would play the teacher. An ironing board served as her desk and she would pass out her own handmade worksheets. Kids from the neighborhood would actually show up for these lessons. She found herself emulating her own teachers. They made learning fun and she picked up on that style. She became a teacher for real in 1998. She credits an incredible group of teachers and a principal who set the bar high in her early years. Showing children you care is the key, she says. The most rewarding feeling she gets are the letters, emails and visits from former students who share their appreciation of what she has done for them.[/ultimate_modal]
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Lucile McKee Hendricks Elementary
Ignacio A. Lopez

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Arce started out at Crockett in 2004 and has taught at Hendricks since 2008. She has served as a mentor to new staff and for her grade level, served on the Math Curriculum Team, sponsored the student council and assisted in teacher trainings. When she thinks about teaching, she thinks about her expectations as a parent. She wants her own children to be educated, mentored, guided, engaged and challenged. She applies those same demands to herself as a teacher. She strives to make learning fun but always purposeful. A good teacher must be flexible to the educational and emotional needs of each child so they feel comfortable, safe and cared for, she says.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Sam Houston Elementary
Isabel Garcia

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Vela knows the value of hard work. She grew up in a family of migrants and was the first in her family to go to college. Her father would stress the importance of a good education and always made sure his children attended school through the entire year. She has taught at Houston since 1991. She chose Houston because she wanted to let students, who were just like her, know that they can find success through hard work and determination. She likes to craft lessons that are meaningful and relevant. Ideally, these lessons foster motivation and stimulate a passion to learn more. She wants them to understand that when they leave her class, they are on a journey they are capable of steering themselves.[/ultimate_modal]
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Andrew Jackson Elementary
M. Ester Piña

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She began teaching at Jackson in 2010 after earning her degree in Spanish from UT Pan American. She is currently working on her Master’s in Educational Administration from Lamar University. She describes the attributes of an exceptional teacher in simple terms. An exceptional teacher isn’t necessarily the best at everything or the most knowledgeable. It simply means they try their best every day to change a child’s life. Her teaching experience began when she was nine. Her mother was legally blind and she taught her mom how to sign her name on important documents. She learned a number of tasks at a young age and showing, or teaching, others became easy for her. One of her goals each year is to make certain every child learns to accept others for who they are and can identify their own strengths.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Christa McAuliffe Elementary
Michael Morales

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Ketterer leaves no stone unturned when it comes to resources and teaching methods. She works with students in small groups, peer assistance, whole groups, one-on-one and, yes, even tough love when needed. She likes to draw from real-life experiences to help with lessons. This sometimes includes stories her mother or grandmother shared when she was a little girl. In fact, her decision to become a teacher happened in the second grade she says. That’s when she began thinking that someday she wanted to do something to help others. She began teaching in Iowa  after graduating from Northern Iowa in 1984. One year later, she came to McAllen. In McAllen, she has served on the Yearbook Committee and presented at the national level three times.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Ben Milam Elementary
Sandra M. Torres

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Kristin Steinbrunner has a long connection with Milam. In fact, she went there as a little girl and her mom taught there, making her a second-generation Milam teacher. Kristin graduated from Texas State University in 2003 and has been at Milam ever since. Now that she is a teacher, she says, she understands the passion and commitment it takes to be an educator. Developing a personal relationship and rapport with each child is key. She strives to not only meet each child’s educational needs but their affective needs as well. Kristin has served as Student Council Sponsor for seven years, coordinates the annual Food Drive and the Relay Recess which honors families impacted by cancer. She has also chaired the Milam Fall Festival the past four years. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Jose Antonio Navarro Elementary
Laura Markham

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ever since she was a little girl, she dreamed of being a teacher. Her heart swelled up when she saw how her little sister was learning from something she had actually taught her. She knew then she wanted to have a positive impact on others. She admits teaching is no longer as easy as when she was eight years old but she loves it just the same. She sees it as her responsibility to provide students with the knowledge and tools needed to direct their learning styles. It is also vital, she says, to be a positive role model and emulate the passion for learning she wants every child to have. The best rewards are the surprise visits from former students who are now in high school, college or have become parents. She knows the positive impact she left in them is just as powerful as the one they left in her. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Dr. Pablo Perez Elementary
Cynthia A. Cooksey

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She likes to think of teaching as an oversized science experiment. It has variables and methods that need to be applied based on observations and data. The data comes from students who hit developmental milestones. The milestones do not all happen at the same time or pace and so decisions must be made based on their needs. She feels most accomplished when she guides a student to reach their personal achievement goals. She earned her bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Michigan State and added a second Master’s in Special Education from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio. She taught in Ohio and Austin before coming to McAllen in 2012. She was named District Teacher of the Year in Manor ISD in the Austin area.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Sam Rayburn Elementary
Floyd M. Morales

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Acosta decided to become a teacher 10 years ago. She started as a para-professional. In fact, she served as an Assistant Basketball Coach in Valley View and helped the team earn its first-ever playoff trip in 2003. To work toward her college degree, she began taking classes at night and during summers. She admits it was not easy. She earned her degree from UT Pan American in 2006 and began teaching in Hidalgo. She came to McAllen in 2012. The trick to teaching elementary, she says, is to be as creative as possible with your teaching style. Also, inspiring students to love reading is key. Sometimes this includes acting out the story –anything to instill passion and enthusiasm for reading. She adds it is important to not only encourage them to be good students but to be good people too. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Theodore Roosevelt Elementary
Jessica Sanchez

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]As the school’s music teacher, it’s safe to say he loves music and performing. After graduating with a music degree from UT Austin, he worked at Walt Disney World in Orlando. If you took a vacation there in the early 2000s you might have seen him. Sometimes he was “Pluto.” Other times, he performed as “Geppetto” from Pinocchio or even “Buzz Lightyear” from Toy Story fame. He later moved to Los Angeles and found work in commercials and some TV pilot shows. The world of the spotlight was not completely fulfilling though. He wanted to be a mentor for others and that led him into teaching. Like a lot of teachers, he too was inspired to teach by one of his childhood teachers. In his case, it was his elementary music teacher. Through her, he tried out and was selected to sing the National Anthem in front of his peers. He later went on to become a Texas All-State Singer in high school. Today, he believes teachers carry an enormous responsibility to bring out the very best in every student with patience and enthusiasm. He knows teaching is his calling because of the rewarding feeling he feels while educating young minds.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Blanca E. Sanchez Elementary
Linda C. Ascencio

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Ochoa has done it all. She has worked in the food-service industry, automotive, entertainment and management. She will be quick to tell you the most challenging position she has ever held though is being a teacher. It is also the most rewarding, she says. Her 24-year career began in El Paso following graduation from UT El Paso. She came to McAllen in 2000 and taught math at Brown before moving to Castaneda a year later. She came to Sanchez when it opened in 2008 and has been there ever since. Her first experience in teaching came right after high school when she would act as a tutor and assistant for her mother’s fourth-grade class. She was amazed by her mother’s passion for teaching and concern for each and every student. It’s her mother’s qualities that she strives to put forth every day within her own teaching.

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Juan Seguin Elementary
Carolina Canchola

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She sees her mission as preparing students to have the tools and skills necessary to compete in a global society. She encourages her students to be risk takers by often challenging them to find multiple solutions to problems and not just to settle for one answer. She likes to promote lessons that acknowledge their culture and recognize their uniqueness. She sponsors the spelling bee and oversees a dual language classroom. She graduated from UT Pan American in 2010 and came to Seguin that same year. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Thigpen-Zavala Elementary
Rebeca Puig

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She began teaching in 1975 after graduating from Pan American University. After three years, in Hidalgo, she came to McAllen in 1978 and began teaching at the original Thigpen. She has spent her career teaching kindergarten and first grade. She has presented to her peers at the Transforming Learning Peer Led conference and for a Southwestern Bell Grant. Maria has also served as a mentor for 10 student teachers or new teachers. She has built her philosophy for kindergarten around the notion that this is the child’s first experience to interact and taste independence. She is mindful that the attitudes children will develop toward school and learning begin at this age and so sees her role as a crucial one. This is her second Campus Teacher of the Year award.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Woodrow Wilson Elementar
Hilda Maldonado

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]One of her college assignments was to write an essay on her philosophy of teaching. She had no experience at the time and admits being a little uncertain what to say. But as she thought it through, she thought about what had driven her to select education as a career in the first place. It stemmed from a belief that all children can learn and how it was her desire to make that happen. That philosophy still holds true today after nine years in the classroom. Ms. Salinas taught in Roma one year before coming to Wilson in 2007. At Wilson, she has served on the the IB Leadership/CILT team, the campus site-based committee, PTO president and, since 2011, as the Lead First Grade Teacher.

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Secondary Teachers of the Year

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Dorothea Brown Middle School
Debra Cavazos

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Rosales began teaching in 1991 and has taught middle-school math since 1993. She is the math dept. head at Brown where she has taught since 1997. She has received several grants including one for weather and one for an interdisciplinary space unit. She has wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl. She believes enthusiasm is key in order to make students more willing to learn and try new concepts. She enjoys collaborating with her peers on the best ways to teach topics or to make them more interesting. What makes her most proud is when she can see students have the confidence to begin teaching each other. She says that is when I know I’ve done my job. [/ultimate_modal]
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Dr. Rodney D. Cathey Middle School
Monica Valdez

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Williams chairs and teaches language and literature. She has also taught middle school and high school ACT and SAT prep classes. At Cathey, she has sponsored the FCA club, UIL Ready Writing, Chess Club and the Sixth Grade Pep Squad. She says she chooses not to be a common teacher. She takes every opportunity to try new ideas and prefers the challenges of an active classroom. She sees literature as more than just a subject. It is also life, love, mystery and fate. It is unveiling the hidden and proclaiming out loud the profound. Literature grabs the heart and enlightens. She loves when the classroom becomes a bevy of absorbed communication and students seek to explain, predict, discover and create. This is my classroom and my style, she says; you are welcome any time. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Alonzo De Leon Middle School
Wendy Gilbert

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She describes teaching as essential for any area of excellence. As a teacher of children with special needs, Ms. Cervantes believes everyone should be given an opportunity for an education regardless of challenges they may have. She views teaching as an opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life. Her main goal each year is for her students to see themselves like everyone else in this world. By setting high standards for them, they begin to learn the importance of accomplishing goals and what the benefits are to being a successful individual. She earned her degree in special education from Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2009 and came to De Leon after a stint in Robstown. While in Robstown, she earned the Structure Learning Teacher award.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Michael E. Fossum Middle School
Sandra L. Guerra

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She uses a quote which sums up her teaching philosophy. “Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers. The believers and the thinkers. But, most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” That was first spoken by Edmund Lee. She has coached volleyball and track plus UIL Ready Writing and UIL Impromtu. She has also taught in the STAAR and TAKS academies during summers and served in the district TLC3 Cadre. She doesn’t like to think of herself as an outstanding teacher but as someone who is willing to work hard in order to help her students succeed. She calls herself “privileged” to work at a campus filled with great students, motivated teachers and supportive administrators. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Abraham Lincoln Middle School
Andrew Quintanilla

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Mr. Thompson is a Sci-Tech Lab Instructor. He earned a degree in Criminal Justice from State University of New York in Potsdam, New York in 2008. He has served as the Campus Technology Facilitator, a technology cadre member and has received an ABC grant from the McAllen Junior League. Mr. Thompson strives to capture the International Baccalaureate concept of holistic learning. He realizes, on any given day, students are learning more than just content. At various times, he finds himself in the role of counselor, mentor, coach, friend, nurse, advice giver, tutor and, yes, disciplinarian. That’s ok, he says, because school is more than just math, science, history or language. Students experience a buffet of academia, culture and life. In his philosophy, effective teachers need to care about what they do. He wrote that teaching is a career for dedicated, passionate and strong people.  [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.[/ultimate_modal]
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Homer J. Morris Middle School
Juan Arguelles

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She has taught Texas or US History since 2007 and came to Morris in 2012. In McAllen, she has participated in the Social Studies Curriculum Alignment Project, conducted training sessions for social studies teachers, mentored first-year teachers and participated in two grants – Teaching American History and Passion for U.S. History. She holds a degree in psychology from St. Mary’s in San Antonio. She takes great pride in helping students reach academic success and instilling a strong desire to learn. Further, she seeks to create an engaging environment where they can delve into issues and topics that previously may not have registered in their world. This is her second campus teacher of the year award.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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William B. Travis Middle School
America M. Cortez

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Before teaching special education, Ms. Stuber worked as a nurse and substitute teacher. In a previous life, she also worked as a circulation manager in New York City, overseeing the distribution of magazines like Wine Spectator and Food Arts. She graduated from Queens College in New York with a degree in English in 1992. Teaching is not a solo profession she says. It takes a village to make it work. Ms. Stuber considers herself fortunate to have had great mentors. At Travis, she looks upon her colleagues as family. And everyone must work together with a common goal of making both the students and teacher successful. [/ultimate_modal]
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Achieve Early College High School
Cesar Rodriguez

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She owns a BA and a Master’s from UT Pan American and teaches US History and Economics at Achieve. She is also a part-time instructor in US History at South Texas College. In a previous stint at McAllen High, she served as a computer lab manager, taught social studies and worked as a transition teacher. As such, she worked with at-risk students which included teen parents and repeating freshmen. She says it all begins with passion. Teachers should always continue their learning in order to provide a positive classroom experience, she says. She adds that listening is an important part of her job because economic, social, cultural or personal issues beyond the student’s control can hinder their success. Their emotional and social well-being is a priority for her. She sees herself as a crucial component in each student’s future. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Instruction & Guidance Center
Erick W. Morin

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Many of us have favorite movies that inspired us in some way. For Mr. Beltran, it was the 1967 film To Sir, With Love which centered on a reluctant teacher who takes on a class of misfits. The power of an education, he writes, is it gives people an opportunity to argue against injustice, to climb out of slums and to live life to its fullest. Mr. Beltran graduated from Texas A&I University with a degree in health and physical education. Before entering the classroom however, he served in the US Air Force which included being part of a crew for the B-52 and the B-1 Stealth bomber. He also worked in law enforcement and served in the national guard. He served 23 years in the armed forces and earned medals for service during Hurricane Gilbert in the 1980s and for service in Central America.

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Lamar Academy
Marian F. Dearth

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Bautista-Pena chose teaching because she wanted a career that would allow her to make a difference in someone’s life. She graduated with a bio-medical science degree from Texas A&M and came to Lamar in 2006. She has taught biology, chemistry, physics and aquatic science. She serves as science department head and Key Club Sponsor. She views teaching as a special calling that encompasses many components besides instruction. An outstanding teacher doesn’t just want her students to succeed academically, she says, but such a teacher should want her students to be well-rounded individuals who strive for success in everything they do. She credits her colleagues for their help and guidance and loves visits from former students.

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McAllen High School
Vanessa Chapa

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]Ms. Gutierrez is home grown. She graduated from Nikki Rowe High and later UT Austin. It was at UT that her mom advised her to get her teaching certification. She thought “why should I do that? I’m not going to become a teacher.” Now, she says, she would not want to do anything else with her life. She loves adventure and sees teaching as life’s greatest adventure. She went through the Teach for America program and landed a job teaching world geography. She wants her students to see the excitement the world can offer. When she has traveled abroad, she has gathered information and photos to share with her students. She says these past three years in the classroom have taught her a great deal about herself and the students she works for. She wrote, “I come to work every day for them, and I will stay in education because of them.” Lesson learned. Always listen to your mom. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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Memorial High School
Sylvia I. Molina

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She teaches dual enrollment Spanish courses at Memorial where she is the Foreign Languages Department head. She holds a bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Spanish and even studied one summer at the University of Salamanca in Spain. She believes that the keys for an effective teacher are passion, leadership, classroom management and content knowledge. We must have the ability to influence the lives of our students in an extremely positive way, she says, and provide an environment where students can grow academically and socially so they may function as individuals and members of society. [/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]
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James “Nikki” Rowe High School
Rebecca J. Salinas Garza

[ultimate_modal btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Biography” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″]She admits that after 14 years of teaching science, she stills gets nervous whenever August comes around. She remembers how chemistry was once difficult for her. Then, after graduating from McAllen ISD, she went to Texas A&M and majored in microbiology. Currently, she is undergoing certification to become a Texas Master Naturalist. She says her own love for science drives her to create meaningful lessons that are diverse and rewarding. A good lesson, she says, should have a balance between natural curiosity and hard work. She enjoys it so much she likes to tell her kids, she still doesn’t know what she wants to do when she grows up. Watching students actually talk about science, even when not for a grade, is still a personal thrill. She wrote “it is why I do what I do.”[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal modal_contain=”ult-youtube” btn_txt_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Video” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″][/ultimate_modal]

19 Regional and State Teacher of the Year awards in 25 years!

Name

School

Year

Mary Ellen Cavazos Bonham Elementary 1991-92
Leo Ramirez** McAllen High 1992-93
Eduardo Reyna* Brown Middle School 1993-94
Debra Taylor Rayburn Elementary 1995-96
Barbara Johnson Garza Elementary 1996-97
LeAnna Morse Memorial High 1996-97
Jeanette LaFevers Rowe High 1997-98
Betty Bloomfield McAllen High 1999-00
Nancy Birkenmayer McAuliffe Elementary 2000-01
Cynthia Mills Memorial High 2000-01
Lorenz Villa Gonzalez Elementary 2001-02
E.A. Tanner Rowe High 2002-03
Peggy Baldwin Rayburn Elementary 2003-04
Dora Newell **# Thigpen-Zavala Elementary 2008-09
Rachelle Grace $ Memorial High School 2010-11
Debra Schiller Perez Elementary 2011-12
Katherine Moore Milam Elementary 2013-14
*= state finalist
**=state teacher of the year
# = HEB Lifetime Achievement Educator finalist in 2008-09
$ = HEB Excellence in Education Award winner for Secondary School Leadership, spring 2011