McAllen ISD teacher named State Finalist in H-E-B education awards

McAllen ISD teacher named State Finalist in H-E-B education awards


A McAllen ISD teacher is a finalist for a state education award. Officials from H-E-B surprised Rachelle Downey of Lamar Academy with the news Tuesday.


“We appreciate all of your outstanding work and everything that you do for all of your students,” H-E-B presenter Linda Tovar said as students applauded.


She is a finalist in the Lifetime Achievement Secondary category. H-E-B’s Excellence in Education is the largest monetary awards program for educators in Texas, and among the largest in the nation.


“To all my friends and my colleagues and my wonderful principal (Cindy Pena) … thank you for all your support and for giving me the chance to be a part of the Lamar Academy family,” Downey said. “I think it’s amazing (that H-E-B supports teachers). We all feel really supported by them and the community.”


H-E-B representatives had balloons, flowers and a check for $1,000 for Ms. Downey. Her school also received $1,000. The state winners will be announced May 5 in Austin.


A veteran of 24 years in the classroom, Mrs. Downey teaches English in the school’s International Baccalaureate Programme. In 2009-10, she was a Campus and District Teacher of the Year. She became a Regional Teacher of the Year in 2010-11. In May 2011, she earned H-E-B’s School Leadership Secondary award.  


McAllen ISD’s School Board is also a finalist for the School Board Leadership category. If selected, one or more school boards will receive up to $25,000.


About the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards

Since the program's inception, HEB has awarded more than $10 million in funding to benefit outstanding Texas public schools. This year, HEB will award a total of $82,500 to the finalists and school boards, who will go on to compete for even greater cash prizes at the statewide level. Each finalist in the district and early childhood categories, as well as the five recognized school boards, will receive $5,000; the three finalists in the small district category will receive $2,500.



H-E-B asks customers, Partners (employees) and community members to nominate teachers, principals, districts, early childhood facilities and school boards in Texas. Each nominee is sent an invitation to complete an application online and is asked about their professional experiences, educational philosophies, and achievements both in and out of the classroom. 


A team of judges reviews the applications, narrowing the field to semi-finalists. From that pool, five regional judging panels comprised of former winners, administrators, and university and community leaders not affiliated with H-E-B select 40 teacher and principal finalists.


About H-E-B

H-E-B, with sales of more than $24.6 billion, operates more than 390 stores in Texas and Mexico. Known for its innovation and community service, H-E-B celebrated its 110th anniversary in 2015. Recognized for its fresh food, quality products, convenient services and a commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, H-E-B strives to provide the best customer experience at every day low prices. Based in San Antonio, H-E-B employs more than 106,000 Partners in Texas and Mexico and serves millions of customers in more than 300 communities. For more information, visit


If planning to tweet about the announcements, please tag @HEB and use the hashtag #HEBEducation. Find H-E-B at



State finalist! McAllen ISD teacher Rachelle Downey (center, in blue) stands with a check awarded to her as a State Finalist in the H-E-B Excellence in Education awards at Lamar Academy on February 12. H-E-B officials and the mascot H-E-Buddy surprised her with the announcement. The state winners will be announced in May.