Kelly Garcia named 2016 Innovator of the Year

July 28, 2016

Kelly Garcia, Student Information Systems (SIS) coordinator, thought she was attending a meeting to listen to the Superintendent make his back-to-school remarks. Instead, in a surprise announcement, she received a standing ovation by her peers when she was named Northside ISD’s 2016 Innovator of the Year.

 “I was so surprised and am truly honored,” Garcia said.  “I love working at Northside. The people I work for and the people I work with are amazing and it is truly a pleasure to be part of such an outstanding organization.”

The Innovator of the Year award is named for former Northside Superintendent Ed Rawlinson, and is presented annually by the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) to a Northside employee whose creative idea improves his or her school or the district, and is ground-breaking, efficient, cost-effective, and timely.

Pictured from (left to right) Dr. Brian Woods, superintendent; Kelly Garcia, 2016 Innovator of the Year; Ed Rawlinson, award namesake and former NISD superintendent; and Cathy Naiser, NEF president.

Garcia was recognized for her initiative and development of the NISD Career Planner within the current student information management program eSchoolPLUS.  With the passage of House Bill 5, it was determined that there was an immediate need to align District record keeping with State and NISD requirements.

“After traveling to several Texas school districts looking for a program that would allow students and counselors to create an electronic four-year plan, select endorsements, and project course sequencing, Kelly took the initiative to create the NISD Career Planner,” said Dr. Kimberly Ridgely, director of Counseling and Guidance.

 “She methodically input hundreds of classes offered by campuses and linked them to the appropriate program of study for each of the five endorsements,” Ridgely said. “This program will be instrumental in course planning for thousands of students during their high school career.”

“Kelly Garcia’s Career Planner has brought NISD’s record keeping into the digital age, saved the District from a significant investment in third party software, and fundamentally changed the way that Central Office and campus-level staff interact with student records,” said Erika Foerster, director of SIS.

The Career Planner facilitates more meaningful conversations among constituent groups by providing real-time simulations of individual student’s options if they are considering changing their courses of study. The program also identifies it additional endorsements are available, based upon a student’s choices and academic progress. When examining options, the displayed results are custom tailored to each student’s need by only displaying the courses that are offered at their chosen campus.

“Only rarely does one person so profoundly impact an organization the size of NISD,” said Dr. Brian Woods, Superintendent.  “In one way or another, her program will impact every student and faculty member within NISD, every year, for the foreseeable future. She is the essence of an Innovator of the Year!”

The Innovator of the Year award is administered annually by the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) to one of NISD’s 14,000 employees whose creative idea is successfully implemented and can be easily adopted by other schools or for wider use. Nominations are submitted from throughout the District, and a committee from NEF selects a winner from those nominations.

Past winners have included Jay Sumpter, 2015; Anthony Jarrett, 2014; Landa Rodgers, 2013; Linda Zarakas, 2012; Kerry Haupert, 2011; Robert Harris, 2010; Jonathan Dale, 2009; Dr. Phil Linerode, 2008; Windy Barker, 2007, Debbie Merritt, 2006; Millie Linares, 2005; Jack Funkhouser, 2004; Math Department and Tim Boezinger, 2003; and Irene Alvarez, 2002.