Spotlight: Kristopher Petree, Kruse Elementary

Kristopher Petree is the science lab teacher at Kruse Elementary in Pasadena ISD. His peers describe him as someone who genuinely helps everyone he encounters. He builds relationships with all students at his school and goes out of his way to help teachers and administration with any technology issues they may have.  

Since the district’s focus moved over to distance learning, he took his helpfulness to a higher level, one of amazement.  Mr. Petree began by organizing Chromebooks for every teacher and instructional paraprofessional to take home to be able to maintain contact with fellow peers and students during the Stay-At-Home order.  More importantly, he did the same for students. He helped students enroll in personalized learning classrooms and secured Chromebooks so each one could continue the educational path with limited interruptions. He also organized Chromebooks for students who did not have access, but that he knew could benefit greatly by having technology support at home. 

Not only did he help with putting devices in the right hands, Mr. Petree also responded to a multitude of emails and phone calls from parents and students to setup programs and applications used for instruction. He did this for the entire Kruse student body, regardless if the devices belonged to the school district or were personal family property.  Mr. Petree continues to provide this support all hours of the day and night, whenever is most convenient for parents and students.

Mr. Petree has not stopped with his support for the school community as the pandemic continues. He has spent countless hours creating a variety of YouTube videos with step by step instructions for understanding applications and troubleshooting for staff, students, and parents at Kruse Elementary. Currently, these videos have been viewed more than 2,200 times. Furthermore, he shared these videos with the school district and other campuses. His YouTube videos have influenced other campuses to create their own campus specific videos.  These videos have also provided helpful instructions for parents to ease their access to all applications within a single sign on platform.  This allows parents to log in once to gain all information, eliminating the need for teachers to send multiple emails to parents.

We know that many people rise to the occasion in a time of need; however, Mr. Petree has contributed beyond measure to continuously provide invaluable assistance for the Kruse Elementary school community and all of Pasadena ISD throughout these unprecedented times. One might say that he came to the rescue of others.  Truly, there is no way to quantify the impact of his support. 

One of his peers said it best, “Without his knowledge, dedication, care, and commitment, our school family would have not been able to move forward with such ease and consistency. “

Spotlight: Christina Hartsfield, Texas City High School

Christina Hartsfield is a teacher at Texas City High School in Texas City ISD and teaches a career tech course based on education.  It is a course designed to inspire students to become the next wave of teachers.  Over the past few years, she has had to develop the course and its lesson plans from scratch. Each year she must personally recruit students into her program, as well as fellow teachers to become mentors. Each student not only receives instructions in class, but they also spend a class period at one of the local elementary schools as teacher assistants.  This requires the coordination of getting transportation, managing student/teacher schedules, and traveling to each class to observe the student. This has provided her students with a job experience in a classroom and the ability to see their lessons in an actual working environment.

Additionally, Ms. Hartsfield has the students involved in T.A.F.E. (Texas Association of Future Educators).  This entails Regional, State, and National competitions.  She takes students to workshops, trainings, and spends many late nights at the school assisting students with their projects.  Within her T.A.F.E. region, she has served as the Regional President and Vice President not once, but twice.  This is a volunteer organization that brings students with an interest in education together and helps fortify an education focus. Over the last two years she has also been invited out to several conferences to teach seminars. Ms. Hartsfield also encourages her students to volunteer in the community, taking them to local food banks, charities, and local shelters. The hours spent on these projects, as well as in T.A.F.E., are all voluntary. 

Ms. Hartsfield has a passion to see her students become the next great generation of teachers.  She dedicates much of her free time to seeing them succeed.  One of her peers went on to say “I have watched her develop close bonds with her students, mentor them when seeking further education, and go out of her way to see each student succeed even after high school.”

Spotlight: Quana Washington, Velasco Elementary

Ms. Washington is a fourth grade ELA teacher at Velasco Elementary in Brazosport ISD, and received the most nominations for our 2020 Appreciated Teacher awards. Throughout this pandemic, Ms. Washington has shared so much knowledge with parents. She has provided them with links to online resources through social media platforms. This has allowed parents to be able to strengthen each student’s education while being faced with this interruption. She has also shared content on various literature to improve each student’s learning while at home.

She firmly believes that every child deserves to have an equal opportunity. She is a 4th grade teacher who has made a great impact on her students’ lives. In the past, some of her students did not enjoy reading because they struggled or had learning disabilities; but through her unique teaching methods, she was able to meet each child’s need. As a result of this, her students became outstanding readers, in addition to her class becoming the second highest scoring group on the STAAR Test.

Since she began working at her campus, her peers have noticed that her students are excited and eager to learn. She is an exciting teacher with young and fresh ideas. She is always happy and enjoys being around her students.  She is teaching and her students are learning, and it is apparent in the improvement and progress her students make throughout the school year. They are always listening to her and treat her with such respect and admiration. The difference she had made is so evident in the turnaround her classes have made. She strives for excellence with every single one of her students. She takes it upon herself to ensure that each of them is taken care of and that no one is falling behind. The extra hours she puts in, even when it sometimes pulls her away from her own kids, shows her commitment to her profession.

Ms. Washington is also very involved in her community. Whether it is helping with pageants, mentoring during her free time, or driving to the homes of her students to offer extra help. Teachers of her caliber are rare and very special to their district and community.

Spotlight: Sandra Jackson, Anderson Academy

Sandra Jackson is a teacher at Anderson Academy in Aldine ISD. She is her school’s STEAM facilitator and teaches coding and robotics to over 800 students. Her dedication and passion for what she does is embodied in the atmosphere she creates for her students so that they can enjoy learning computer science.

Ms. Jackson is the founder of the Boys and Girls Who Code after-school program on her campus. Additionally, she is the Magnet and Mentors/Mentees Coordinator for her school. The requirements for each of these positions are just another indication of her dedication for her career.

Ms. Jackson has always been a firm believer of life-long learning and repeatedly seeks out opportunities to provide more resources to her students. As a result of this, she was selected for a one-year program to participate in Rice University REMSL Program that was sponsored and paid for by Conoco Philips.  She was also selected to participate in an 8-week project by Texas A&M. Her perseverance for being a leading educator has also been exemplified when she was selected as a presenter for TCCA 2019 in October and at Magnet Schools of America Mid-South.

Thank you for your dedication, Ms. Jackson!

2020 Appreciated Teacher Awards

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 and Waller County, Texas. A committee of credit union employees will select from all nominations received by Monday, April 22, 2020.

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 4-8) with a $250 honorarium.

We encourage you to nominate a deserving teacher by clicking here.

Spotlight: Angel Herring, Normandy Crossing Elementary

Angel Herring is an ESL (English as a Second Language) Pre-K teacher at Normandy Crossing Elementary in Galena Park ISD. Her goal is to build confidence in all the students, provide interactive lessons, and make each day a learning adventure while students reach their fullest potential.

Ms. Herring isn’t your typical pre-k teacher, she creates hands-on lessons that her students will remember for the rest of their life. For example, she built a headphone stand for her listening center using PVC pipe. She immediately thought about how many concepts she could teach her students with such an activity. She pre-cut the PVC pipe, which she put into a math center for measuring. The students measured each piece and then put them together themselves. They learned how to use a ruler, measure objects, and the real-life purpose of measuring. Her students took great pride in their accomplishment.

Another example is how Ms. Herring celebrates Read Across America, with a special tribute to Dr. Seuss. During this week, you can find Ms. Herring dressed up in her custom-made Dr. Seuss attire to engage the students. She teaches her students about irreversible mixtures by adding green food coloring to eggs while reading “Green Eggs & Ham,” as well as making a pink ink drink while reading “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.” She also incorporates math patterns by using red and white linking cubes as a hands-on ESL activity while reading “Cat In The Hat.”

Not only does Ms. Herring strive to give her students the best possible education, but she also helps her fellow teachers do their best as well. She is seen as a mentor and master teacher. Her activities have been so successful that she has shared them on blogs, teacher organizations, and teacher clubs. Her lessons and centers have been shared over 3,000 times.

Ms. Herring has received several awards during her 13 years of teaching. She recently won scholarships from ATPE and TCEA to help her further her education.  She won ESL Teacher of the Year from her school and then GPISD.  She won Educator of the Year from the Children’s Museum of Houston last school year.  She has a Certified Digital Educator Certification from Lamar, a Campus Technology Specialist from TCEA, Google Certified Educator Level 1, Apple Certified Teacher, Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator.  In the past she was named Kroger Classroom Champ and received the Red Apple Award on live TV from KHOU and Star Furniture.

Spotlight: Juliette Broussard, Rick Schneider Middle School

Juliette Broussard leads the fifth-grade science grade level team at Schneider Middle School in Pasadena ISD. Her students consistently have the highest Benchmark, Mock STAAR, and STAAR scores in the Pasadena district. She tutors children before and after school, and voluntarily gives up her conference period to work with students so they can be academically successful. If students are absent or are having difficulties at home, Ms. Broussard is known to go to the student’s residence and either tutor or speak to the parents if she is unable to reach them from the school.

Ms. Broussard is always looking for fun ways to make science come alive for her students. Recently, Ms. Broussard went all out for Schneider Middle School’s Science Academic night. She invited the Harris County Commissioner’s Office to bring live animals and they taught the kids about wildlife and outdoor education. She also had the students create hats to display the solar system, rainforest, food chains, and almost every scientific concept that fifth graders study. The students formed a parade showing off their hats, while the faculty, parents, and other students voted on their favorites. The students had a blast and over 400 parents were in attendance.

Ms. Broussard is the Schneider Middle School 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year. She has also won numerous Science teaching awards and fellowships, such as the Eugene Chiappetta Chemistry and Environment Teaching Award. She attends summer training sessions with Rice University and spends countless hours implementing all she has learned to better help our students close their gaps in learning.

Her principal, Ms. Still, said it best, “She is one of the greatest teachers I have ever seena and she refuses to give up on any of our children or families.”

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.”