Last Thursday night, our proud school district hosted the 2016-17 Alief ISD Teacher of the Year Celebration where we had the honor of recognizing and celebrating Teachers of the Year for every campus. I am sincerely honored each year to have the opportunity to participate in this event and express my appreciation to these phenomenal professionals along with their family, friends and colleagues. I am especially pleased to recognize and celebrate those teachers that met our high standards of being selected as finalists for the Elementary Teacher of the Year and Secondary School Teacher of the Year for Alief ISD. The finalists were:
- Doniel Watts – Chancellor Elementary – Doniel teaches fourth grade English and Language Arts and has been with Alief for eight years. Watts believes in practicing what you preach. She says “The golden rule I live by is – don’t ask anything of your students that you are not modeling each day in your classroom.”
- Jeffrey Jernberg – Horn Elementary – Jeffrey teaches physical education to students in kindergarten through fourth grade and has been in Alief for 28 years. Jeffrey says “My philosophy of teaching focuses on each student’s various physical, emotional and educational needs. My job is to support classroom teachers while promoting and educating the importance of leading an active lifestyle.”
- Li Su – Landis Elementary – Li teaches is a first and second grade bilingual teacher and has been in Alief for 12 years. She learned at an early age to adapt to new challenges as her family moved from her native Taiwan to Argentina forcing her to learn a new language without the benefit of a second language program. She experienced that again when she moved to Houston and learned another language and culture. She sees her experiences as a positive and uses that in her teaching on a daily basis. “I can honestly see myself in many of my students. I always try to provide all the emotional and academic support they need to feel safe and achieve their dreams in the future.”
- Priscilla Cuellar – Petrosky Elementary – Priscilla teaches all subjects in the fourth grade and has been in Alief ISD for 13 years. She constantly challenges herself to give her best to her students each day. She says “I find that I am in constant competition with myself. I want to be the best I can be for my students because that is what they deserve.”
- Katrena Reese – Alief Early College High School – Katrena is a graduate of Hastings High School and is a pre-AP English teacher who has been in the district for seven years. Her oldest child graduated from Alief Taylor High School and her youngest child is currently a senior at Taylor. She says she uses a simple approach to teaching – “Teach the way the students learn and love them in the process.”
- Bresean Cockrell – Elsik Ninth Grade Center – Bresean is an Algebra 1 teacher who has been in Alief for five years. He grew up learning the important of education first-hand. His mom was an elementary school teacher and as he says “the reason for my early passion and inspiration for education.” He says that by embracing and integrating technology into various facets of his instruction, he is helping the students to practice, adapt, collaborate and solve problems using unconventional methods and out-of-the-box thinking.
- Jesse Castanon – Hastings High School – Jesse has been with Alief ISD for 26 years and is currently an Algebra1 and MMA teacher and coaches soccer and cross country. He has a lifelong passion for teaching and says that, as a freshman in high school “I was saying to myself ‘if I were the teacher this is what I would have done differently to make sure the students understood what I was saying.”
Now that you have learned about the outstanding finalists, you can empathize with the selection committee as they had the task of selecting one elementary winner and one secondary winner. Please join me in congratulating Priscilla Cuellar as the Elementary Teacher of the Year and Bresean Cockrell as the Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Please click the link below to see a video featuring our finalists in action.