Celebrating its 20th year, the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) will recognize six outstanding NISD graduates as Pillars of Character at its annual gala. These six outstanding graduates include an elected official, a singer/songwriter, an optometrist, a businessman, a doctor/professor, and an architect.
Tickets are still available. The event will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 17 in the Vista Room at the Venues at Valero, beginning with a reception and silent auction at 5:30 p.m. For ticket information, contact the NISD Partnerships Office at 397-8599.
Almost 700 business partners, community members, and educators will attend the event, which is expected to raise more than $160,000. Through various programs, NEF raises funds for the Foundation's Grants Program, which awarded $450,000 in grants to faculty and staff last school year.
Each year, Pillars are selected from almost 100,000 Northside ISD alumni who have graduated from NISD high schools since 1951. The Pillars represent the six character traits taught to NISD students that are part of the Josephson Institute’s Character Counts program. The Pillars of Character are: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.
The 2014 Pillars of Character are:
2014 Pillar of Caring
Dr. Edward Carl Elder
Giving back to his community is a big part of Dr. Edward Carl Elder’s life. While a student (and football, track, and basketball star) at Holmes High School, he excelled both on the field and in the classroom. While on the athletic fields, he learned the lesson of true brotherhood with his teammates. So it was no surprise that when a classmate passed away, the class of 1977 banded together to create a scholarship in their friend’s name. To date, 42 scholarships totaling $125,000 have been awarded.
While in NISD, Elder also attended Neff Middle School. After graduation from Holmes High School, he received a Bachelor of Science in Biology, as well as a doctor of optometry degree from the University of Houston.
Today he is a co-owner of EyeTx Vision Centers, a thriving business in San Antonio. He continues to give back to his community by offering free eye exams, contacts, and glasses to students in need at NISD schools. He is married to Bonnie Prosser Elder, and has one daughter, Marissa.
2014 Pillar of Citizenship
A life dedicated to public service was always in the cards for Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff.
He spent his early years in NISD at Colonies North and Locke Hill elementary schools and Hobby Middle School, graduating from Clark High School. He credits his high school football coaches with instilling in him the characteristics of service and teamwork that he uses in his life today.
After high school, he joined the United States Navy. He is a decorated veteran, serving nearly a decade on the USS Mahan and in the Naval reserves.
He earned both a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration from St. Mary’s University. His professional career includes experience in human resources, organizational design, and business development for a number of Fortune 500 companies in Delaware, New York City, and San Antonio.
In 2005, he was elected to the San Antonio City Council, and in 2009 he was elected as the Bexar County Commissioner for Precinct 3. He has devoted the past decade to serving the citizens of San Antonio and Bexar County leading efforts in economic development for the region.
He and his wife, Sandi, have one daughter, Sydney.
2014 Pillar of Responsibility
Dr. Meredith Rockeymoore Brooks
Dr. Meredith Rockeymoore Brooks is the first to tell you that math and science were not her forte in the early years of her academic career at Northside ISD. However, with guidance from teachers at Adams Hill Elementary School and Pease Middle School, she learned to like math and science and even excelled in them as she entered Health Careers High School.
Today, she is a clinical assistant professor of pediatric pain and pediatric anesthesiology at Stanford University School of Medicine.
A busy mother of three children under the age of six, she teaches aspiring medical students, treats young patients, and manages to take missionary trips around the world. She gives credit for her success to God, her husband, and her family.
2014 Pillar of Fairness
Aaron Barker’s musical career began at the age of six, when his mother gave him his first guitar. He always had music around him, joining a “variety band” at the age of 13. His musical career took him from a rock-n-roll band serving our military to getting his first self-written single on country music radio when “Baby Blue” was recorded by icon George Strait.
Today, with multiple hit songs under his belt, he remains as humble and genuine as the little boy who yearned to play music.
Today, he is still writing and performing his songs. His voice is recognizable to most Texans as the voice of Blue Bell Ice Cream. He currently lives just south of Nashville with his wife, Theresa.
2014 Pillar of Respect
James “Rad” Weaver
James “Rad” Weaver is a proud product of Northside ISD, both attending school and having his parents work in the District.
Weaver attended Helotes Elementary School, Stevenson Middle School, and Jay and Clark high schools. His mother was a life-long teacher at Neff Middle School and Clark High School, while his dad was a coach at Marshall High School.
A football and baseball player with a promising career, he credits two men for making an enormous impact on his life: his high school football coach Danny Padron and businessman Red McCombs. He attended the University of Texas at Austin on a baseball scholarship, and graduated from the McCombs School of Business. He washed cars and worked odd jobs for McCombs while in high school and college, and is now the CEO of McCombs Partners, the investment management division of McCombs Enterprises.
Weaver learned from his parents the value of working hard and giving back to his community. In 2009, he and his wife Ashley renovated San Antonio’s Kiddie Park, the oldest children’s amusement park in the country. They are the parents of two young children, Cecilia and Collins.
2014 Pillar of Trustworthiness
Laura Elvia Hernández
Laura Elvia Hernández was living a great life in New York City while working and mentoring high school students. The Jay High School graduate and native San Antonian had no intention of returning home permanently. That is, until the River Walk called to her.
Her love of architecture and design began at Passmore Elementary School when she converted a refrigerator box into a clubhouse. She also attended Jones Middle School and graduated from Jay High School. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas in San Antonio, and her master’s degree in Architecture from Columbia University, she chose to stay in the Big Apple.
Then, the job of designing the River Walk museum extension was awarded to Ford, Powell and Carson Architects and Planners. Having always loved the River Walk, she quickly came home and joined the firm where she worked with the design team and was proud to see the project recently completed. Hernández also helped to establish the Architecture-Construction-Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program in San Antonio and is the current chairperson for the San Antonio affiliate.