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SAISD announces 2017 Teachers of the Year

2016 - 2017 Teacher of the Year Awards
Three outstanding educators were selected Feb. 16 as SAISD’s Distinguished Teachers of the 
Year. They are Andrea Lucas, Lamar ES; Christian Stephanie Aguilera, YWLA (for middle
school); and Luz Perez, Edison HS.

SAISD announces 2017 Teachers of the Year

Three outstanding educators were selected Feb. 16 as SAISD’s Distinguished Teachers of the Year. They are Andrea Lucas, 4th grade teacher, Lamar ES; Christian Stephanie Aguilera, 7th and 8th grade math teacher, Young Women’s Leadership Academy and Luz Perez, Spanish teacher, Edison HS. The educators were selected earlier this year from a group of 88 teachers who were named Teachers of the Year for their school. Each school's Teacher of the Year was selected by a vote of his or her peers. All had the opportunity to submit a written application for SAISD Distinguished Teacher of the Year, one each of which was selected for the elementary, middle and high school levels from a pool of outstanding candidates. Following is more information about the Distinguished Teachers of the Year and the full list of each school's Teacher of the Year and their subject or grade level.

More about the Distinguished Teachers of the Year

Andrea Lucas, 4th grade at Lamar Elementary School, loves watching the look on students’ faces when they are fully engaged in learning something new. “Teaching is showing all students what they are capable of accomplishing,” she wrote in her nomination form.

The 14-year educator has taught at Lamar for three years. Besides her classroom duties, Lucas has been a member of the Campus Leadership Team. “I want to give new teachers a vision of what is possible,” she writes, “To me, this is one of the best ways to impact hundreds of students and future students.”

Lucas holds a master’s degree in education and bachelor’s degree in economics, both from Trinity University.

Christian Stephanie Aguilera, math teacher to 7th and 8th graders at Young Women’s Leadership Academy, originally thought she would pursue law school and run for public office to advocate for students. Since being in the classroom, though, Aguilera believes her time with her students is “more powerful and direct.”

The three-year educator is a graduate of a YWLA sister school, a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation American citizen. “I keep my old year books and posted my high school diploma in my classroom as a reminder to them that I understand what they are going through and also a reminder to myself of their perspective,” she wrote in her nomination form. “I consider our shared experience and sisterhood a unique opportunity to connect with my students and it drives my teaching daily.”

Aguilera holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame.

Luz Perez, Spanish teacher at Edison High School, was inspired by her mother’s love of teaching. Her mother, a kindergarten teacher in Mexico, was the first in her family to attend college and earn her master’s degree in early childhood education. Unfortunately, her mother passed away before her final degree arrived in the mail. In her nomination form, Perez described the moment she touched her mother’s transcript: “I felt like my mom had just handed me her baton to continue her legacy.”

For three consecutive years, the eight-year educator has led her students to a 100 percent passing rate in AP Spanish Literature and Culture as well as in AP Spanish Language and Culture. Technology also has helped her reach out to students at risk of failing by offering tutoring online, using programs such as Skype. Her students describe her as a mentor, teacher and motherly figure who is always accessible to them.

Perez holds a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, both from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Teacher of the Year: High schools

  • Advanced learning academy: Lisa Murphy, math
  • Brackenridge: Ellen Bradley, cosmetology
  • Burbank: Brian Quinones, science
  • Edison: Luz A. Perez, Spanish
  • Fox Tech: Jennifer Lankes, science
  • Highlands: Rosalind Witcher, science
  • Sam Houston: Veronica Marines, English
  • Jefferson: Joe Jimenez, English
  • Lanier: Erin Harbor, history
  • St. Philip's College ECHS: Elizabeth Guevara, science
  • Travis Early College: Raquenel Garcia, Spanish
  • YWLA: Christian Stephanie Aguilera, math

Teacher of the Year: Middle schools

  • Davis: Clarice Caldwell, science
  • Harris: Amy Plazek, band
  • Irving: Rogelio Nava, ESL/LA
  • Longfellow: Diana Natividad, science
  • Lowell: Juddith Gatti, ELA
  • Page: Frances Jenkins, ESL
  • Poe: Deborah Slavin, ELA
  • Rhodes: Christina Deherrera, ESL
  • Rogers: Michael Torres, social studies
  • Tafolla: Andrew Diaz, math
  • Twain: Natalie Leader, LA
  • Wheatley: Andrew Campos, Teacher At Risk
  • Whittier: Mary Jane Cheuvront, social studies
  • YMLA: Lanece Carpenter, ELA/SS

Teacher of the Year: Elementary schools

  • Arnold: Alejandra Gutierrez, 3rd grade
  • Ball: Elizabeth Castaneda, 2nd grade
  • Barkley-Ruiz: Jo Ann Vasquez, 3rd grade
  • Baskin: Sandra Vargas, pre-kinder
  • Beacon Hill: Magda Farias, 1st grade
  • Bowden: Beverley Flores, 4th grade
  • J.T. Brackenridge: JoAnn Baiz, 4th grade
  • Briscoe: Sarah Christal, 3rd grade
  • Cameron: Kimberly Durick, ACE
  • Collins Garden: Maria Alvarado, 5th grade
  • Cotton: Deja Hook, 1st grade
  • Crockett: Jesus Ruiz, 4th grade
  • De Zavala: Carol Moreno, pre-kinder
  • Douglass: Lisa Barrera, 4th grade
  • Fenwick: Linda Fenton, 1st grade
  • Forbes: Melissa Wente, 2nd grade
  • Foster: Shawna Griffith, 3rd grade
  • Franklin: Sarah Canales, 1st grade
  • Gates: Amy Acevedo, 4th grade
  • Graebner: Jose Ibarra, 5th grade bilingual
  • Green: Ana Garcia, 2nd grade
  • Herff: Theresa Schoultz, PE
  • Highland Hills: Martha Vargas, 3rd grade bilingual
  • Highland Park: Molly Bauernfeind, 2nd grade
  • Hillcrest: Jamie Jacobs, ACE
  • Hirsch: Valerie Cervantes, 5th grade
  • Huppertz: Marcelina Avery, 4th grade
  • Japhet: Kimberley Staveley, GEC
  • Kelly: Erica Guerra, 3rd grade
  • Sarah King: Ana Marie Lopez, kinder
  • Lamar: Andrea Lucas, 4th grade
  • Madison: Maria Elena Rodriguez-Uhlrich, 1st grade
  • Margil: Leticia Solis, 5th grade
  • Maverick: Benjamin Baker, 5th grade
  • Miller: Desiree Caldwell, pre-kinder
  • Neal: Greg Adams, IBSC
  • Ogden: Corina Keifer, 1st grade
  • Pershing: Jill Ruiz, 1st grade
  • Riverside Park: Susan McDonald, 4th grade
  • Rodriguez: Yasmine Shrek, 2nd grade
  • Rogers: Aurora Vasquez, 5th grade
  • Schenck: Kimberly Soliz, ACE
  • Smith: Jessica Sanchez, 4th grade
  • Stewart: Frank Halvorson, PE
  • Storm: Suzanne Willis, 1st grade
  • Washington: Francisco Morales-Cortes, 5th grade bilingual
  • Wilson: Clarissa Sekimoto, 4th grade
  • Woodlawn Hills: Cynthia Zamilpa, 5th grade bilingual

Teacher of the Year: Academies

  • Advanced learning academy (K-3): Angel Curry, 2nd grade
  • Bonham: Roxana Reynero-Becerra, 4th grade
  • Hawthorne: Carlos Banda, PE
  • M.L. King: Summer Ahmed, 1st grade
  • Mission: Jennifer Ramirez, 5th grade
  • Woodlawn: Paula Segovia, 5th grade

Teacher of the Year: Early childhood education centers

  • Carroll: Christine Altamirano, Head Start
  • Carvajal: Graciela Arizmendi, Head Start
  • Knox: Dawn Silva, Head Start
  • Tynan: Elizabeth Leal, Head Start

Teacher of the Year: Special campuses

  • Cooper Academy @ Navarro: Rigoberto Gonzales, social studies
  • Estrada: Cherdeeca Hinson-Hammonds, GEC
  • Pickett Academy: Emily Blase, science
  • Satellite campuses: Lucas Vega, At-risk