March 6, 2012
Emily Swoboda, an English I Pre-AP teacher at Communications Arts High School, is a finalist for the prestigious H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards, spotlighting her as among the best educators in Texas.
The announcement was made as a surprise to Swoboda and about 130 freshmen students who were assembled on a pretense of a meeting regarding new testing procedures and guidelines.
"You may think that I'm here to talk about the End-of-Course tests," said Dr. John Folks, superintendent. "But actually, I want to introduce some guests who have some fantastic news," he added as representatives from H-E-B walked in bearing balloons, cake, flowers, and a giant check.
Swoboda is among 4,500 nominations submitted this year by H-E-B customers, employees, and community members. A team of judges narrowed the field to 252 semifinalists and then 40 finalists.
Swoboda will travel to Houston on May 4-6 and will be interviewed by a panel of judges before the grand prize winners are announced. More than $500,000 will be awarded to educators and districts at the May 6 banquet, making the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards the largest monetary program for educators in the state.
"I am just so appreciative of all the support that the school and district has given me," Swoboda said. "NISD has given me lots of opportunities and I have tried to use those opportunities to the best of my ability."
"Emily has a great deal of positive energy and shows a true openness for innovation," said Principal Windy Barker. "She plans for student differences, and then gives them a voice.
"By providing them with choice in her class, Emily does more than allow students to express a preference: she requires them to take greater personal responsibility for their learning."
As a finalist in the leadership category which honors teachers with 10 to 20 years in the classroom, Swoboda received a $1,000 check for herself and for her campus. If she is named the grand prize winner, she receives an additional $10,000 check for herself and a $10,000 grant for her school.
The awards program was launched in 2002 in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators to honor outstanding educators. Northside ISD was named best district in the state in 2005, the first year awards were bestowed on districts.