Spotlight: Miranda Embrick, James Bowie Middle School

Miranda Emrick is a Science and STEM teacher at James Bowie Middle School in Fort Bend ISD. Before coming to her current campus, she had been the science department head since 2007 at Crockett Middle School, where she helped launch their first Robotics & Engineering course. Mrs. Embrick teaches 3 courses in Science and 3 courses in STEM. This year, her engineering students won 2nd place in Remote Control Rovers out of over 150 teams at the University of Houston Mars Rover Celebration.

In 2014, Mrs. Embrick became the campus lead in the Jason’s Project and began incorporating STEM into her science lessons. It was during this time that she noticed there was very little female participation in STEM, not just in her class, but nationally as well. She made it her mission to actively recruit female students to enter into Project Lead the Way and Robotics & Engineering courses. Through her class, Mrs. Embrick lead at all girls team to participate in a new event called Stemosphere, which involved the community of Fort Bend County and several Engineering companies, in which they won first place. Since then, Mrs. Embrick has grown the female participation in her STEM class from 10% enrollment to over 35%.

Not only does Mrs. Embrick focus on providing her students with the best education, she also assists her fellow educators to do the same. Mrs. Embrick was awarded a $5,000 grant from Fluor Engineering to develop and facilitate a workshop to train teachers how to integrate STEM into their science lessons. She now facilitates coding workshops for teachers in the district to support their summer programs.

In addition to teaching Science and STEM, Mrs. Embrick has also been actively engaged in bringing real world experiences to her students with her facilitation of the Travel Club. She has taken students to Washington DC, New York City, and California. She also took students to NASA, IFLY for lessons in flight and skydiving, and the Pleasure Pier in Galveston.

“Miranda looks at the field of education as a calling and as a life-time career, not as a job. Her passion is what fuels the desire to change the lives of students as she creates exciting rigorous lessons that both challenge and stimulate learning.”

Spotlight: Doug Hiser, Houston Gateway Academy

Doug Hiser is the art teacher at Houston Gateway Academy. The qualities of Mr. Hiser that make him so special and an inspiration to his students are his immense passion for art and art history, and the dedication for his art students to getting them ready for college.

Mr. Hiser leads by example and has taught his many art students to paint alongside of him designing and painting murals for senior citizen centers, children centers, malls, and more. Ten of his students assisted with painting the giant Santa Fe Ten Feathers painting honoring the students who passed away on Santa Fe City Hall, at the request of the mayor. His students have also painted murals inside the Houston Zoo, an life-size elephant mural inside the Museum of Science, a huge gorilla inside the World Gym in Texas City, and many more.

Mr. Hiser doesn’t stop there. In addition to taking his students offsite to create art, he also uses his own funds to bring in live animals and characters for his students to practice their painting and drawing. His classroom has seen live hawks, owls, kangaroos, monkeys, and other animals, as well as characters such as Batman and Ironman.

With help from donations and fundraising, Mr. Hiser was able to take four of his art students on a safari to Kenya, Africa for a conservation art project.

“Mr. Hiser’s art program is the highlight of Houston Gateway Academy,” said the person that nominated him. “They have been awarded 231 gold medals in the last 6 years in Art.”

Spotlight: Jackie Thompson, Texas City High School

Jackie Thompson has been a teacher in Texas City ISD for 22 years. She is currently the director of health science and HOSA at Texas City High School, where she has mentored and encouraged countless young adults to pursue careers as nurses, doctors, and even surgeons. This teacher displays exemplary standards of knowledge, directness, kindness, compassion, and tough-love. She expects a great deal out of her students, as she does not wish for them to be mediocre in their academic endeavors.

Mrs. Thompson volunteers her personal time to help her students as well as the community. She hosts biannual HOSA blood drives and played a role in hosting disaster relief efforts during the recovery of Hurricane Harvey by setting up a medical supplies donation drive.

As the high school’s HOSA sponsor, Mrs. Thompson has taken her students to compete in state competitions. Her students are her biggest fans, as they have nominated her to the principal’s honors breakfast for the last 8 years in a row.

A former student of Mrs. Thompson’s explained it best – “I could begin to list the amazing things she has done for me, but I would run out of room and my fingers would tire from the massive amount of typing I would have to endure in order to appropriately express my gratitude for this lady for all that she has done – not only for myself, but for the rest of her students.”

2019 Appreciated Teacher Awards

 

Woman with heart shaped face around her

We Love Teachers. We would not be who we are without them.

That’s why Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union will recognize up to five outstanding teachers within the credit union’s field of membership which includes all school districts in Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery or Waller Counties, Texas. A committee of credit union employees will select from all nominations received by Monday, April 22, 2019.

Nominees should be dedicated to greatly improving the quality of education for students. The Appreciated Teacher Award recipients will be named during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10) with an award, a $100 honorarium, and a $100 donation to their school in their name.

We encourage you to nominate a deserving teacher.

 

Spotlight: Elizabeth Bell, The Rhodes School for Performing Arts

Elizabeth Bell is a teacher at the Rhodes School for the Performing Arts. Ms. Bell has made countless impacts on her students and strives every day to give them the tools needed to excel in life. She is a leader among her peers, always encouraging and mentoring others.

Many years ago, Ms. Bell had a pre-k student who wore leg braces and walked with a walker due to spina bifida. One day while out on the playground, the student expressed that he wanted to ride bikes and slide down the slide like the other children. Without hesitation, Ms. Bell worked with another teacher to help her brace the young student on a tricycle. While the other teacher helped the student balance, Ms. Bell knelt down on her hands and knees in front to help guide the student’s feet, so it felt like he was riding the bike on his own. Afterwards, she helped him to slide down the slide. When the student’s mother arrived to pick him up, the student was so excited to tell her what all he had done that day. As tears streamed down his mother’s face, Ms. Bell told her, “as long as I am his teacher, I will ensure that he has the same opportunities as his peers.”

This instance and many more is what makes Ms. Bell a deserving appreciated teacher. She has worked with many children ranging from those with physical disabilities, to those with autism, and always strives to make sure they are treated equally.

“I’ve never experienced a teacher of her caliber and undying dedication to the success of all her children,” said one parent. “She deserves all the recognition in the world because she doesn’t do it to be recognized.”

Spotlight: Jennifer Grant, Special Programs – Homebound, Pearland ISD

Appreciated Teacher: Jennifer Grant

Jennifer Grant is a homebound teacher in the Special Programs department at Pearland ISD. She services many medically fragile students, ages 3 to 18 years old, who are confined to their home. These students are unable to attend school due to their medical needs, so Ms. Grant works to bring the school environment to them.

Ms. Grant not only teaches her students, but their parents and caretakers as well, to show them how to extend the learning activities after she has left their home. Her bond with the children she teaches is often the only teacher they will see while earning their education.

This school year, Ms. Grant had a student that was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Upon finding out about his diagnosis, the student set a goal: to graduate high school. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Ms. Grant. Together they overcame many obstacles due to the student’s declining health. Ms. Grant quickly adapted the already modified assignments so that he could complete the coursework and obtain his high school diploma.

Upon completion of his coursework, and with the help of district administration, she planned a graduation ceremony for the student. On March 29, her student was able to graduate and earned his high school diploma.

Spotlight: Dr. Noemi Dimaliwat, Alief Early College High School, Alief ISD

Appreciated Teacher Recipient: Dr. Dimaliwat

Dr. Noemi Celerina Dimaliwat is a STEM science teacher at Alief Early College High School in Alief ISD. She started the district’s first robotics club and has lead them to compete nationally.

When Dr. Dimaliwat started Alief ISD’s first robotics club, the district did not have enough funds to fully support her initiative. However, Dr. D (as her students refer to her) was relentless and applied for funds and grants from engineering companies all over the greater Houston area to sponsor their team. At the end of their first year, the robotics team placed 2nd against 36 veteran teams in the regional competition, and qualified for the state competition.

Although they did not win their first competition, Dr. Dimaliwat “gave us hope and assured us that no matter what, we are still the schools’ winner and pioneers of the first robotics program in the district,” said former student, Bao-Khang Ngo. “Her words gave us a reason to raise our heads during that dreadful defeat day and for once, I felt inspired to become something more.”

Spotlight: Laura Teatsworth, Barber Middle School, Dickinson ISD

Appreciated Teacher Recipient: Laura Teatsworth

Laura Teatsworth has been an elementary science teacher for 30 years, and is currently the robotics coach at Barber Middle School in Dickinson ISD. Every year she organizes the school spelling bee, and has coordinated two reading programs, Read to Succeed and Waves of Pages. Ms. Teatsworth is also very involved in her community, as she was the building steward for the Houston Federation of Teachers, she serves as HOA president and formed the League City HOA Alliance, she is a Charter Review Committee member, and she also serves as the youth director for handbells at her church.

Ms. Teatsworth has spent 20+ years as an American Red Cross instructor. One year, she taught over 200 5th graders CPR. As a result, one of her students was able to save her grandmother’s life by using the instruction that she learned. The student invited Ms. Teatsworth to the ARC with her to receive her purple heart. Ms. Teatsworth also personally performed CPR on a cafeteria worker who collapsed in the school hallway, ultimately saving her life as well.

Along with teaching students herself, Ms. Teatsworth has also organized visits from many guest speakers, including NASA’s Fred Haise and Apollo 13’s Gene Kranz, as well as other CEOs, such as Compusolution X, who is contributing two advanced laptops to the two students with the highest academic performance for the year.

“She genuinely cares and our students are her focus,” said Cynthia Mason. “I am forever grateful that my children have been blessed to have her as part of their academic journey. She is selfless and deserves endless recognition.”

Spotlight: Benji Adams, Woodland Hills Elementary, Humble ISD

Appreciated Teacher Recipient: Benji Adams

Benji Adams is a teacher at Woodland Hills Elementary in Humble ISD. She is not only a teacher, but a cheerleader for her students as well. When her students are struggling, she doesn’t hesitate to come in early before school for tutoring. When she knew that one her students’ confidence was shrinking, Ms. Adams showed up to her soccer game to cheer her on.

Kim Calderon, a parent of three Woodland Hills students, was lucky enough to have two of her children have Ms. Adams as their teacher. Mrs. Calderon recalled how one of her daughters was speech delayed, which caused her to struggle in all areas of school. So much so, that they thought she may have to repeat a grade. With the help of Ms. Adams, her daughter was able to catch up and gain the confidence she needed to finish.

“She celebrated her victories. She pushed through with her on her struggles. She made sure that my daughter felt like she mattered when she was losing all self-confidence,” said Mrs. Calderon.

Just when she thought the school year was over and that she would have to say good-bye to her new favorite teacher, they found out their youngest daughter would have Ms. Adams as her teacher, too. “My husband and I will never be able to repay her for the love she has shown my children,” said Mrs. Calderon. “She will forever be etched in our hearts as the best teacher we have ever known!”

 

Spotlight: Jon Pillow, Pasadena High School, Pasadena ISD

Appreciated Teacher Recipient: Jon Pillow

Jon Pillow is a government teacher and the head boys’ basketball coach at Pasadena High School in Pasadena ISD. Along with being a teacher and a coach, Mr. Pillow also serves as the treasurer for the Houston Area Basketball Coaches Association board.

Mr. Pillow has made many enormous contributions to his community and his students. He organized an annual basketball tournament to honor a student of his that passed away. This tournament raises money to supply a scholarship to a deserving student each year. For the past four years, Mr. Pillow has organized a community service event known as “Hoops for Hope,” which is a wheel chair basketball game. This purpose of this game is to raise funds for the TIRR Memorial Jr. Hotwheels Basketball Team so that they may purchase much needed equipment. Mr. Pillow has also organized Basketball Bonanza Weekend, Read to Achieve, and a Buddy Basketball Program.

Along with being named a recipient of GCEFCU’s Appreciated Teacher award, Mr. Pillow is also a two time Coach of the Year, a two time winner of the Who’s Who of America’s Teachers award, and a current finalist for Pasadena High School’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.

“Mr. Pillow believes that children want to be challenged and want to learn,” said Candra Ojeda. “His belief is that as a teacher, you do not lower the bar, you set it and expect kids to reach the bar through hard work, sacrifice, and a good attitude.”