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San Antonio ISD honors its outstanding educators

At last night’s Board meeting, seven outstanding San Antonio ISD educators were honored for their work in the field of teaching. Three educators were introduced as the District’s Distinguished Teachers of the Year, and four educators were announced as the District’s Rising Stars. They were selected from among a strong, talented slate of campus honorees


2020-2021 Distinguished Teachers of the Year 


Perry Jackson of Neal Elementary School, Christen Cozart of Young Women’s Leadership Academy, and Noah Lipman of Highlands High School were recognized as SAISD’s 2020-2021 Distinguished Teachers of the Year. These educators will be considered as nominees for a variety of outside honors throughout the next school year, including Texas Teacher of the Year, the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and a variety of other state and national awards. 


Earlier this month, SAISD released the names of the 90 campus Teachers of the Year. Each campus’s Teacher of the Year was selected by a vote of their peers. Winners had the opportunity to submit a written application for SAISD Distinguished Teacher of the Year. One winner was selected for each the elementary, middle and high school levels from the pool of campus winners. 



winner 1Perry Jackson, Neal Elementary School 
“’Teacher’ may only be one descriptor attached to my name, but I think it comes with more than one definition. My job is not just to teach. I am also at times a counselor, a shoulder to cry on, a recess buddy, a confidant, a student - the list goes on. I strive every day not just to teach, but to listen and learn, as well. There is so much I can learn from my students. Their experiences shape them as people, and if I do not try to understand them, there is no way I can reach them.” - Perry Jackson 











wiiiner 2Christen Cozart, Young Women’s Leadership Academy 
“Every time I see the excitement in my students’ faces when we act out the Bill of Rights hand signs, have a four-corners debate, or play Slap It to review for an exam, the twinkle in their eyes that they get fills my heart and fuels my passion. I could go on and on about why I love teaching: those connections with students, the joy of listening to young people discuss the impact of Reconstruction and how it connects to today, and those emails I receive from former students about how my class is helping them in college and beyond or how they still remember an activity we did in class. Those are the things that affirm I made the right decision when I decided to become a teacher.” - Christen Cozart 









winner3Noah Lipman, Highlands High School 
“The ultimate reward for me is watching students accept the fact that they can, and will, succeed if they put their full effort into the challenges that are presented to them. I choose to work in majority/minority schools with economically disadvantaged students because too often society has directly or indirectly told these students that they cannot succeed. know from first-hand experience that the opposite is true. I also know that too often teachers choose to work in schools other than urban district Title 1 schools because of the ‘perceived’ belief that it will be too difficult. Just the opposite is true. Our students are eager for a teacher who believes in them, can personally relate to their own economic struggles from childhood, and knows the value of achieving higher education. While I have an extensive background in education, what makes me successful is not my knowledge of content, but the methodology I use in teaching and my ability to get students to believe in themselves because I can document the success of students who have taken my classes in the past.” - Noah Lipman 






2020-2021 Rising Star Teachers 


 Stephanie Reyna of Tynan Early Childhood Education Center, Rachel Serebrenik of Riverside Park Academy, Enrique Nunez of Young Women’s Leadership Academy, and Antonio Villarreal of Burbank High School were also recognized at last night’s Board meeting as the District's 2020-2021 Rising Star Teachers – educators in their first year of teaching who demonstrate instructional excellence and leadership in the classroom, school, and community. 


Principals nominate their finest first-year teachers who already demonstrate excellent practices. 



 winner4Stephanie Reyna, Tynan Early Childhood Education Center 
“One of the marks of a professional, and certainly a rising star, is that they are always reflective of their practice and always hungry for more knowledge, and Ms. Reyna is definitely both of those things,” said Gregorio Velazquez, principal of Tynan ECEC. “Praxis is the act of reflecting, and then acting, and then reflecting again, and I see Ms. Reyna do that consistently through her work with children. She is a model example of a HighScope teacher and learner, which helps her have a tremendous impact in the lives of her young learners.” 











winner 5Rachel Serebrenik, Riverside Park Academy 
“Miss Serebrenik is a passionate educator with a heart for students' success and growth,” said Cassie McClung, principal at Riverside Park Academy. “She works closely with her team and other colleagues on campus to help ensure the betterment of all aspects of life at Riverside Park. She is a blessing to our campus and our students.” 















Enrique Nunez, Young Women’s Leadership Academy 
“As a product of SAISD, first-generation college student, and son of immigrants, Mr. Nunez is truly committed to providing access for all students despite the color of their skin, nationality, or gender,” said Regina Arzamendi, principal of YWLA. “In October of 2020, he, along with a team of YWLA educators, served as panelists for a parent presentation titled, ‘Talking About Race with Your Daughter.’ Mr. Nunez realized the important need for our students and parents to be able to effectively address the topic of race by empowering parents with strategies they could use with their children. Mr. Nunez elaborated his professional development by presenting on the same topic of addressing racism at the national level for the Spring Symposium of the National Coalition of Girls' Schools. His advocacy for addressing racism at the campus level continues as he leads an Anti-Racism Book Club while also serving as a member of the Diversity, Education, and Inclusion Committee that meets monthly to collaborate toward creating campus change and inclusion for all students.” 






winner 7 Antonio Villarreal, Burbank High School 
"Mr. Villarreal consistently is an advocate for his students for both their academic and socio-emotional needs,” said Irene Talamantes, principal of Burbank High School. “He advocates for students and works with both counselors and administration to make sure that students have all the support they need to be successful. Mr. Villarreal works with students on an individual level and makes connections with them on a personal level. He contacts families and encourages parents and students to take an active role in their education and provides them the knowledge and support they need. He makes sure of what they need and works with counselors and administration to make sure their needs are met on all levels, both academic and socio-emotional.” 


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