Principal nominated for National LifeChanger of the Year Award


Dr. Kristine Garza, Principal at McAllen ISD’s Wilson Elementary, has been nominated for the 2018-19 national LifeChanger of the Year award.


This is the third nomination earned by a McAllen ISD educator in the last two years.


Dr. Garza was nominated for being an exemplary and proactive leader. She uses a data-driven approach to innovation in instruction in order to succeed among all grade levels. She creates a warm and cheerful campus atmosphere, handling conflicts and other difficult situations with remarkable patience and tact.


Dr. Garza also serves the community beyond her school, organizing various charitable programs such as the Wilson Food Pantry, the Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic annual pajama donation and a Teddy Bear Drive for Mujeres Unidas.  


Wilson has also earned Gold status as one of America’s Healthiest Schools. It was one of just a dozen or so schools in the nation to earn this recognition from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for its laser-like focus on children’s health and nutrition. It was written about in Women’s Day magazine.


 “She loves people, works hard, and always tries to lift the spirits of those around her. I believe these characteristics represent all that is good about our school and in our district,” colleague Donna Bzibziak, who nominated her, said.


Last fall, Dr. Garza earned her PhD in Leadership Studies from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. This is her eighth year as Principal at Wilson.


“I strongly believe that as a Principal in McAllen ISD our priority is to serve our families, our communities and all stakeholders,” Dr. Garza said. “This cannot be done without the immense support that I have from my staff. They are willing to go the extra mile by volunteering their time and putting the well-being of our Wilson students above everything else. We all face hardships in life and we want our community to know that we are a resource for them.” 


Earlier this school year, Vivian Tamez, a Foreign Language Teacher in the International Baccalaureate Programme at Lamar Academy, was also nominated for this prestigious award. Last year, Perez Elementary librarian Cynthia Cooksey received a nomination.  


Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, LifeChanger of the Year recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 educators and school district employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.


Each school year, LifeChanger of the Year receives hundreds of nominations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Seventeen individual LifeChanger of the Year awards will be given during the 2018-19 school year.


  • 1 Grand Prize Winner – will receive $10,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • 4 Grand Prize Finalists – will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • 10 LifeChanger Award Winners – will receive $3,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • 1 Spirit Award Winner – This award is given to the nominee whose community demonstrates the most support for their nomination. The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • 1 Spotlight Award Winner – This award is given to a nominee in a specific discipline each year. For 2018-19, the Spotlight Award will be given to a nominee who works in a counseling role. The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school or district.

    Winners are announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The grand prize finalists will also be honored at a national awards ceremony in April 2019 in Hawaii, where the Grand Prize Winner will be revealed.

    Winners are chosen by a selection committee comprised of former winners and education professionals. Nominees must be K-12 teachers or school district employees. To be considered for an award, nominees must
  • Make a positive impact in the lives of students
  • Enhance their school or district’s atmosphere, culture and pride
  • Demonstrate exemplary leadership at the school and/or district level
  • Possess a proven record of professional excellence
  • Show commitment to building a nurturing environment that supports learning
  • Adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards