Northside’s theme of “Be Legendary” is certainly personified in this year’s class of 2019 Pillars of Character.
Each year, Pillars are selected from almost 100,000 Northside ISD alumni who graduated from NISD high schools since 1951. The Pillars represent the six character traits taught to NISD students as part of the Josephson Institute’s Character Counts program. The traits are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
On Sept. 18, these six graduates of Northside schools will be honored at the Northside Education Foundation’s annual gala at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The evening will be filled with musical performances, a live auction, video tributes to the six pillars, and a special announcement. They will be joined by almost 700 business partners, community members, and educators.
The gala is one of NEF’s largest fundraisers of the year and proceeds are used to fund grants to NISD faculty and staff. More than $400,000 was awarded last year in Resource, Innovation, and Team grants.
The 2019 Pillars of Character are:
2019 Pillar of Trustworthiness
Mark Tezel’s love of the land and all its beauty and bounty is part of his DNA. After all, his family lives on a farm purchased by his ancestors in the late 1800s. Family trips to Colorado and volunteering at the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park further strengthened his belief that national parks preserve what is best in our country.
As an asset management training coordinator for the National Park Service, Tezel has visited 196 of the 419 national parks across the country. He says he took the opportunity to mold his experiences at Colonies North Elementary School, Hobby Middle School, and Marshall High School into what he wanted as a career. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology from Texas Lutheran University.
Tezel says the discipline and teamwork he learned as a Marshall High School band member are skills he uses today in his job. Of course, his love of all national parks is shared by his wife, Dr. Alicia Tezel, and passed on to their children, Jacob, Kaitlin, Samuel, and Noah. His children all graduated from Northside ISD schools as well.
Capt. Jordan Eddington
2019 Pillar of Respect
In his junior year at Taft High School, gifted two-sport athlete Jordan Eddington tore two ligaments in his left knee, jeopardizing his desire to play college football. But Jordan did not give up. He worked with his team trainer, Coach Tim Kloewer, every day before school starting at 7 a.m.
Five months after surgery, Eddington played his first varsity football game.
He credits his drive and determination to succeed from the encouragement and love he received from his family and from teachers he encountered in the hallways of Fernandez Elementary School, Zachry Middle School, and Taft High School.
As gifted an athlete as he was, his academic achievements exceeded his prowess on the athletic field. Throughout his educational career at Northside ISD, Eddington was enrolled in the district’s gifted and talented program and was inducted into the Taft National Honor Society. Both his academic and athletic abilities helped him get into the United States Naval Academy, where he flourished on and off the football field.
Today, he is the Commanding Officer, Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in the U.S. Marine Corps. Eddington says his years at Northside taught him to work hard, to remain diligent, and to be part of a team. They are lessons he imparts to the Marines under his command.
While he has lived in various states and countries throughout his service, San Antonio and Northside ISD are still home, where he says the lessons he learned helped shape who he is today. He and his wife, Candice have been married for three years.
2019 Pillar of Responsibility
J.D. Story is a self-described nerd. He’s always loved science but also liked solving problems.
As CEO of Luminus Biosciences, he and a team of scientists are working to create better and safer drugs to treat cancer. Story’s love of science was stoked at Colonies North Elementary School and Hobby Middle School. The 1984 graduate of Clark High School served as class president and was an athlete and scholar.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Texas at Austin and Master of Business Administration from the university’s Red McCombs School of Business.
Having worked in a variety of industries across the country, Story is happy to come full circle and use his biology degree and business acumen to help people at their most vulnerable moment. He’s also happy to be in San Antonio, a city he loves and calls home.
He is the proud father of Anna, Katie, Sarah, and James. He and his wife Amy have been married almost 25 years.
2019 Pillar of Fairness
For Daniel Flores, ensuring equity for others started in seventh grade.
When a student who did not speak English struggled to learn their musical instrument, Flores volunteered to teach the student himself. As the son of Peruvian immigrants and an immigrant himself, Flores understood firsthand the challenges language barriers can pose. He ensured the student received the same instruction as his peers, and within a year they were accepted into the top band.
During his NISD career, Flores attended Fernandez Elementary School, Zachry Middle School, and Warren High School. At Warren, he served as vice president of the National Honor Society, president of the Spanish National Honor Society, Varsity Swimming/Water Polo Captain, and Section Leader in the band.
Through a QuestBridge scholarship, he attended Northwestern University on an academic full-ride, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Science from the university’s Kellogg School of Management. During college, his work and advocacy supporting low income/first-generation college students led to the creation of a university department that currently serves thousands annually.
His continued commitment to equity can be seen in his work now as a Growth Projects Associate with The Chicago Public Education Fund. In his role, Flores supports the development of a principal pipeline and executes projects that ensure strong recruitment, development, and placement of aspiring school leaders to support the 365,000+ students of Chicago Public Schools. While Chicago is his home now, San Antonio and Northside is where his heart remains. Since 2010, Flores has helped Warren High School students apply to the same scholarship he received, as well as acclimating them to university life. Recently he developed a College Admissions Test Preparation Scholarship with the hopes more Warren students can benefit from the same opportunities he had in school.
Imelda Lopez Sanchez
2019 Pillar of Caring
Imelda Lopez Sanchez has lived a life of caring for others, both literally and figuratively.
Lopez Sanchez is the only daughter of a local restaurateur and has been working beside her father since she was knee high where she learned one of the keys to running a successful business is by treating customers as family. She says, “It’s a privilege for my family’s restaurant and our employees to be part of so many of our customers’ celebrations.”
As the Vice President of Operations for Henry’s Puffy Tacos, she utilizes her business to care for the community through various charity organizations and events. In fact, the restaurant’s mascot serves as a positive role model for San Antonio area youth making appearances at schools and community events throughout Bexar County. The sense of caring and giving back was ingrained in her by her parents and was encouraged throughout her academic career within NISD at Esparza Elementary School, Ross Middle School, and Holmes High School.
Although she received one-of-kind on-the-job training, she realized the importance of education and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from St. Mary’s University and a Master of Business Administration in business management from Our Lady of the Lake University.
As for her future, she would like to author both children’s books and adult cookbooks. She and her husband have been married for 18 years and have one child.
Judge Rosie Alvarado
2019 Pillar of Citizenship
When you speak to District Judge Rosie Alvarado, you learn quickly there are three things she is most passionate about – her two daughters, the law, and the PEARLS Court.
Through the law, she gives back to her community, something she learned from her mother, a community activist, and her father, a Texas legislator and activist.
The PEARLS Court is a community project with a mission to invest in girls placed in foster care between the ages of 14 to 18. By providing therapeutic care, case management, life skills training, and mentoring, the program helps participants value their whole selves and their inherent strengths so they may lead healthy, educated and successful lives.
Alvarado began her academic career at Northside ISD’s Neff Middle School, and later attended Marshall High School. She holds a law degree from St. Mary’s University Law School and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and chemistry from St. Mary’s University.
Currently, she presides over the 438th District Civil Court.