Seventh Annual Inspire Awards – 2017 recipients

Release: September 29, 2017

Media Advisory

What:         7th Annual Inspire Awards

Who:          Outstanding SAISD educators and alumni including national news veteran Jim Lehrer,
                  former Texas A&M-San Antonio president Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier and prominent 
                  local attorney Roy Barrera Sr.

When:       Oct. 3 (Tuesday), 5:30 – 9 p.m.

Where:      Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, (Stars at Night Ballroom) 900 E. Market St.

The District’s past and present shining stars will be honored for making a significant difference in their fields and for their ability to inspire others. Proceeds from the price of admission will go to innovative teacher grants and initiatives in SAISD supported by the SAISD Foundation.

A reception and silent auction will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the awards presentation will start at 7 p.m. Student entertainment and featured groups will include: the Brackenridge HS mariachi group; Fox Tech HS mariachi group; Sam Houston HS dance; Herff ES strings; the Jefferson HS chess program; the Fox Tech HS Law Magnet students; and Maverick ES Dragon Network News reporters.

The honorees are:

Leadership Award
Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier (alumnus Jefferson HS). Ferrier is the founding and President Emerita of Texas A&M University-San Antonio and a former White House education adviser. At A&M San Antonio (2008-2015), she led the university’s unprecedented enrollment growth to gain stand-alone status and their successful accreditation process. Prior to her career with the A&M University System, Ferrier held national education appointments, such as the director of Bilingual Education & Minority Language Affairs. She served on the Commission for National and Community Service under presidents George H. Bush and Bill Clinton. In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Ferrier Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Department of Education. She also launched in 1995 City Year San Antonio, an organization that supports students at risk.

Excellence Award
Roy Barrera, Sr. (alumnus of San Antonio Vocational and Technical High School, now called Fox Tech). He is a prominent local attorney and a former Texas secretary of state. In 1957, Barrera partnered with fellow attorney Anthony Nicholas to open their own firm, Nicholas and Barrera where they specialized in Criminal Law, Family Law, Estate Planning, Personal Injury and Real Estate Law. The legendary practice Nicholas & Barrera is believed to be the oldest unchanged legal partnership in Texas. Both Nicholas and Barrera were named every year in the Best Lawyers in America since its first publication in 1983. In 2014, Barrera was named in The National Top 100 Trail Lawyers. Barrera was appointed Secretary of State by Governor John Connally in 1968 and became the first Hispanic to serve in that role.

Service Award
Jim Lehrer (alumnus of Jefferson HS). Lehrer is an American journalist and novelist. He is a former long-time news anchor for PBS NewsHour and known for his role as a legendary Debate Moderator in U.S. Presidential Election campaigns. In 1959, Lehrer launched his career in journalism at both the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times-Herald, where he served as a political correspondent and city editor. There, he covered local and world events including the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. He moved to Washington, D.C. to become the Public Affairs Coordinator at PBS, a member of the Journalism Advisory Board, and a Fellow at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). He worked as a Correspondent for the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT) where he met Robert MacNeil. Lehrer and MacNeil went on to cover the Senate Watergate hearings and the revelation of the Watergate Tapes live broadcast on PBS in 1973. This monumental collaboration earned them an Emmy Award. The pair kept the awards rolling when they joined forces on The MacNeil Report, which later became The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. After the departure of MacNeil, the show was retitled The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and then, The PBS NewsHour. Lehrer has also made a name for himself as a Presidential Debate Moderator. He has moderated 12 Presidential Debates including the 2016 debates. For that work, Lehrer was nicknamed The Dean of Moderators.

Innovation Awards
(Educator Honoree - Secondary)
Rhodes Middle School (team of teachers from STEM and Technology) – Teachers Jennifer Boone, William Davis, Marie Epstein and Kandi Williams will be honored for their innovative approach in teaching media and technology in the classroom. Their work has inspired students in the digital field.

(Educator Honoree - Primary)
Lamar Elementary School (school-wide award) – Through its partnership with Trinity University, Lamar Elementary has become a professional development school where the next generation of teachers and administrators are trained, and set upon redefining itself as both a project-based learning school and a dual language school, seeking flexibility in its creative work through approval as an in-district charter. Highlights of the school include interdisciplinary projects and initiatives, learning expeditions that utilize the rich resources of the community, and deep partnerships with community institutions such as the DoSeum, the Witte Museum, the San Antonio Museum of Art, Inspire Fine Arts Studio, and the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. The school has moved to a modified extended school year to best serve its students' learning needs. 

About SAISD Foundation
The SAISD Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that exists solely to support the District’s schools, programs and teachers. Since its inception in 2007, the foundation has awarded over $7 million in teaching grants, strategic initiatives and student scholarships.