Port Aransas ISD Regional Finalist in H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards

Regional finalists in 12 categories have been notified that they will advance to the statewide competition for the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards, the largest monetary awards program for educators in Texas.

Professional, high-quality photos of each visit can be downloaded here.

The statewide competition and awards banquet will be held on May 12-13 at La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, featuring keynote speaker Neil deGrasse Tyson.

To determine winners, a panel of judges visits each district, early childhood facility and school board, tours campuses and talks with administration, staff, parents and community members. A separate panel of judges chooses teacher and principal winners based upon interviews held in person on May 12.

The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards gives away nearly $800,000 annually in cash, grants and gift cards. See “About” section below for a detailed breakdown of monetary awards.

The 2016 finalists are as follows:

Rising Star Elementary

Stephanie Stoebe, Teravista Elementary, Round Rock ISD Sarah Aguirre, Colonies North Elementary, Northside ISD Hilda Nanez, Green Valley Elementary, Galena Park ISD Meghan Zigmond, H.G. Olsen Elementary, Port Aransas ISD Jay Fisher, Howard Dobbs Elementary, Rockwall ISD

Rising Star Secondary

Rachel Foreman, Dripping Springs High School, Dripping Springs ISD Jarrett Lipman, Claudia Taylor “Ladybird” Johnson High School, North East ISD Bree Welter, Ross Sterling Middle School, Humble ISD Yvette Nevarez, Alton Memorial Jr. High, Mission CISD Alexandra Edwards, Killeen High School, Killeen ISD

Leadership Elementary

Michelle Cardenas, Hillcrest Elementary, Del Valle ISD Melinda Valdez, Henry Steubing Elementary, Northside ISD Tammy Verstrate, LaVace Stewart Elementary, Clear Creek ISD Adriana Whitwell, East Side Intermediate, Palacios ISD Julie Levesque, Chapel Hill Elementary, Chapel Hill ISD

Leadership Secondary

Kristi Carruthers, Burnet High School, Burnet CISD Steve Davidson, Douglas MacArthur High School, North East ISD Michelle Nelson-Archer, Sartartia Middle School, Fort Bend ISD Caleb Swaringen, IDEA College Preparatory McAllen, IDEA Public School Martha Saucedo, Brady High School, Brady ISD

Lifetime Achievement Elementary

Laurie Holmes, Popham Elementary, Del Valle ISD Cynthia Wallace, Dr. Joe Ward Elementary, Northside ISD Lori Burton, Jean C Few Primary School, Jasper ISD Marianne Mojica, Windsor Park Elementary, Corpus Christi ISD Robin Higgs, Hilltop Elementary, Argyle ISD

Lifetime Achievement Secondary

Mark Misage, Westlake High School, Eanes ISD Bryan Degner, Boerne Middle School North, Boerne ISD Ann Linsley, Bellaire High School, Houston ISD Bill McIntire, W.B. Ray High School, Corpus Christi ISD John Gable, Thomas Jefferson High School, El Paso ISD

Principal Elementary

Betty Jenkins, Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy, Austin ISD Mary Helen Cover, Rita Kay Driggers Elementary, Northside ISD Dr. Michael Marquez, Margaret S. McWhirter Elementary, Clear Creek ISD Yolanda Castillo, Graciela Garcia Elementary, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Sandy Conklin, Samuel Beck Elementary, Northwest ISD

Principal Secondary

Dan Diehl, Bedicheck Middle School, Austin ISD Delia McLerran, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, San Antonio ISD Angela Lundy-Jackson, North Houston Early College High School, Houston ISD Dr. Sandra Clement, Foy H. Moody High School, Corpus Christi ISD Dr. Janice Lombardi, Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College, Dallas ISD


Leander ISD – Leander Socorro ISD – El Paso Galena Park ISD – Houston Allen ISD – Allen Katy ISD – Katy


Dripping Springs ISD – Dripping Springs Valley View ISD – Pharr Midway ISD – Woodway


Central Texas 4C, Inc. – Temple Sammy’s House CDC – Austin SEARCH Homeless Services – Houston Hidalgo ISD – Hidalgo Sunshine Cottage – San Antonio


Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD – Pharr Alamo Heights ISD – San Antonio Humble ISD – Humble Somerset ISD – Somerset Allen ISD – Allen

About the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards:
H-E-B launched the Excellence in Education Awards program in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators in 2002 as a positive way to support public education in Texas. It has become the largest monetary program for educators in the state, spotlighting best practices and celebrating the passion and creativity of Texas educators.

H-E-B asks customers, Partners (employees) and community members to nominate teachers, principals, districts, early childhood facilities and school boards in Texas. Each nominee is sent an invitation to complete an application online and is asked about their professional experiences, educational philosophies and achievements both in and out of the classroom.

A team of judges reviews the applications, narrowing the field to semi-finalists. From that pool, five regional judging panels comprised of former winners, administrators, and university and community leaders not affiliated with H-E-B select 40 teacher and principal finalists. Finalists and their schools receive a cash prize of $1,000 to $2,500, depending on category.

Three separate panels select eight school districts and five early childhood facilities as finalists, awarding $2,500 to $5,000 in cash prizes. Up to five school boards may also be recognized, and awarded $5,000 towards the district they serve. Additionally, one or more school boards may receive a special judge’s award totaling up to $25,000. Site visits are conducted to determine winners.

Teacher and principal finalists are invited to San Antonio in May to compete on a statewide level for larger cash prizes totaling more than $400,000. A statewide panel of judges, not affiliated with H-E-B, conducts a personal interview with each finalist to select winners.

Eight winners — two principals and six teachers — will be announced along with two school districts, one large and one small, a public school board and an Early Childhood Facility, at a celebratory dinner on May 13.

Each winning principal–one elementary school and one high school–will each receive $10,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their schools. The winning large school district will receive a $100,000 cash prize and the winning small school district will receive $50,000. The winning Early Childhood Facility will receive $25,000 and a school board could be awarded up to $25,000.

The six winning teachers will include one elementary and one secondary teacher in each of three categories:

The Rising Star Award — honors exceptionally promising teachers with less than 10 years of experience. These winners will each receive a $5,000 check for themselves and a $5,000 grant for their schools.

The Leadership Award — honors teachers with 10 to 20 years in the classroom. These winners will each receive a $10,000 check for themselves and a $10,000 grant for their schools.

The Lifetime Achievement Award — salutes teachers with more than 20 years of experience. These teachers will each receive $25,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their schools.

Photo Courtesy of H-E-B