Four NISD educators are state finalists for 2016 HEB Awards

March 8, 2016

Three NISD teachers and one principal are finalists in the prestigious 2016 HEB Excellence in Education Awards, naming them among the best educators in Texas.

Sarah Aguirre, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Colonies North Elementary School, is a finalist in the Rising Star- Elementary category. Melinda Valdez, first grade teacher at Steubing Elementary School is a finalist in the Leadership-Elementary category and Cynthia Wallace, first grade teacher at Ward Elementary School, is a finalist in the Lifetime Achievement-Elementary category. Driggers Elementary School Principal Mary Helen Cover is a finalist in the Principal- Elementary category.

The announcements were made in four separate surprises at each campus by Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods, representatives from HEB, and H-E-Buddy. In addition to balloons and flowers, teacher finalists received a $1,000 check for themselves and $1,000 for their schools. The principal finalist also received a $1,000 check and $2,500 for the school.

“We could not be more proud of these four educators,” said Dr. Brian Woods, NISD Superintendent. “During each surprise visit it was evident why they were selected. They are all passionate about education and inspire their students to be excited about learning. We are thankful to HEB for recognizing outstanding educators with these awards.”

NISD educators are among 40 finalists in the state. Nominations were submitted earlier this year by H-E-B customers, employees, and community members and a team of judges narrowed the field to the finalists. The finalists will be interviewed by a panel of judges before the grand prize winners are announced in San Antonio May 12 and 13.

Aguirre is in her fourth year teaching refugee or “newcomer” students at Colonies North Elementary School. For the Rising Star Award, teachers must have less than 10 years of classroom experience. One elementary and one secondary teacher will be selected as the state winner and each will receive a $5,000 cash prize, plus a $5,000 grant for his/her school.

Aguirre (center) is pictured with her students and Kimberly Harle, HEB Manager of Public Affairs, and NISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods

Valdez has been teaching at Steubing Elementary School for 15 years, her entire NISD and teaching career. For the Leadership Award, teachers must have between 10 and 20 years of classroom experience. One elementary and one secondary teacher will each receive $10,000 case prize and a $10,000 grant for their school.

Valdez (center) is pictured with Dr. Woods and Steubing ES Principal Dr. Mary Usrey

Wallace has been in NISD her entire 35-year teaching career, including the last 12 years at Ward Elementary School. Teachers in the Lifetime Achievement Award category must have more than 20 years of classroom experience. One elementary and one secondary teacher are selected and each will receive a $25,000 cash prize, plus a $25,000 grant for his/her school.

Wallace is pictured with her first grade class and H-E-Buddy

Cover has been an NISD educator for 39 years as principal of Driggers and Galm elementary schools, vice principal at Galm Elementary School, and a math teacher at Hobby Middle School. The elementary and secondary principal winners at the state level will win a $10,000 cash prize plus a $25,000 grant for their school.

Cover is pictured with Dr. Woods at the surprise announcement in the Driggers ES gym 

The HEB 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.

For pictures of the surprise announcements visit the Northside ISD Facebook page.