Holmes teacher receives surprise honor

September 24, 2010

Patricia Menchaca, a math teacher and department coordinator at Holmes High School, thought District officials were going to observer her and fellow math teacher Melinda Gonzalez team teaching.

She still didn't quite know what was going on when Superintendent Dr. John Folks walked in followed by a news crew and photographers until KENS-5 TV anchorwoman Deborah Knapp announced that she was a KENS-5/SACU ExCEL Award winner.

"This is a well-deserved award," Folks said. "We are very proud of you and what you do everyday for our students."

"I'm in shock," she said fighting back tears. "Everything I do is for my students."

The ExCEL Award, which recognizes outstanding teachers in the greater San Antonio area, also comes with a $1,000 check from the San Antonio Federal Credit Union (SACU).

Menchaca began her teaching career in NISD as an algebra teacher at Jay High School. After one year at Jay, she moved to the Edgewood Academy, returning to NISD in 2006. She is currently a mathematics teacher and department coordinator at Holmes.

She is known for her patience with students who don't particularly excel in mathematics. She typically places the students who struggle in her own classroom, including the TAKS Exit retest students who need to pass Math Models and the TAKS test to graduate. In 2008-09, she hand-placed all the students who needed to repeat Algebra I, many of whom had failed it more than once. Not only did 95 percent of the students pass the course, they passed the ninth grade TAKS test.

No matter the students or their challenges, Menchaca patiently guides them through all the skills necessary to achieve success in the course and on the test.

"We are so glad to have Patricia at our campus," Principal Dennis Ann Strong said. "Although she has been recognized at the District level as a 'teacher of teachers,' she has chosen to remain in the classroom because her heart, her dedication to her students, and her love of teaching mathematics continue to enable her to service this area of greatest need."