Tuesday, May 12, 2015

2015 SBISD Teachers of the Year Named

A fourth-grade teacher at Memorial Drive Elementary and the choir director at Landrum Middle School are Spring Branch ISD’s Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year. The annual awards were announced at the Service Awards employee recognition event held May 6 at the Omni Houston Hotel Westside.

View 2015 Service Awards
In addition to their Gold Apple awards, Memorial Drive’s Anne-Louise Smalling and Landrum Middle’s Jaime Trigo will each receive a $2,000 professional development stipend from SBISD and a separate $1,000 cash award provided by First Community Credit Union and Centerpoint Energy this year.

In his final Service Awards ceremony, Superintendent Duncan F. Klussmann announced the two winners after students praised all eight Teacher of the Year Finalists in personal speeches.

Fourth-grader Michael O’Shell told the ballroom crowd of more than 450 that Ms. Smalling helped him organize his folder to look as neat as a football coach’s playbook. “She makes all of her students feel really good about themselves. When we miss a question, she picks us back up and gets us back on track,” he said.

Michael, her student, was the one who helped calm nerves up on the ballroom stage before students spoke and Elementary Teacher of the Year winners were finally named. “It’s OK, Miss Smalling, I’ve got this!” Michael told her before his personal remarks. 

“Isn’t he amazing? And to think, I have 18 just like him,” Anne Smalling told the crowd. “Thank you so much for this opportunity. I am a product of Spring Branch – Hollibrook Elementary, Spring Woods Junior High and Northbrook High School Class of 1996.”

The proud graduate of SBISD schools was encouraged and inspired along the way by several of the district’s current school principals. They include Northbrook High’s Randolph Adami, Memorial Drive’s Jennifer Jordan and Meadow Wood’s Pamela Redd.

A graduate in history and Russian at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, she later earned alternative certification at the University of Houston-Downtown. She has taught seven years in the region, including one year at Memorial Drive Elementary.

Landrum Middle A Capella Choir member Alex Paz said that Jaime Trigo had molded the campus choirs into some of the best at the middle-school level in SBISD. “Mr. Trigo, you call us rock stars, but we never knew that we were. You saw the potential we had to become great and, thanks to you, we are an amazing choir,” he said.

Alex also praised the music teacher for helping him think of himself as a choir and school leader, rather than “Alex, the kid who is always in trouble, or the kid who doesn’t care about nothing. You truly made a difference in my life, and in choir members’ lives.”

“I believe God put me in this school for a reason,” Mr. Trigo said in deeply emotional remarks. “These students don’t have the best opportunities available, save for those we give them at school. . . . I came here and said that I would be here for a year, then I stayed for another, then another. Six years later, I realized that I had fallen in love with these kids, and I knew that they really needed me.”

Mr. Trigo graduated from small South Texas schools and went on to study at the University of Texas at Austin before earning his bachelor’s degree in music some years later from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. He has taught choir since 2009 at Landrum Middle.

As this year’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year, Trigo and Smalling will next represent the district in regional competition. If successful, they’ll compete later at the state and then the national level. They will also represent the district in the 2016 Houston West Chamber of Commerce competition.

In addition to these two honored educators, other SBISD Teacher of the Year Finalists this year were Patricia “Trish” Jenkins of Bunker Hill Elementary, Patricia Kassir with The Bendwood School, Lou Ann Timmreck of Rummel Creek Elementary, Maggie Fuchs of Spring Woods High, Leslie Iler of Memorial High, and Rony Reyes-Torres of Academy of Choice.

A new nominating process for Teacher of the Year resulted in hundreds of nominations from district students, parents and teachers, submitted via an online nomination site. At each campus, teachers voted anonymously for nominees who met district priority goals. SBISD’s Teacher of the Year Committee named finalists after reviewing applications. Finalists were interviewed and voting held to decide the top two choices.

Also honored at the Service Awards were this year’s Principals of the Year. They are Robye Snyder of Hunters Creek Elementary and Randolph Adami of Northbrook High School. They were chosen by their peers based on established goals and objectives.

Serving as this year’s masters of ceremonies at the dinner gathering were Monica Day and Parker Kelly from Memorial High’s Class of 2016.

Stephanie Walton with the Spring Branch Education Association (SBEA) presented the annual Red Apple Award to representatives of the SpringSpirit Baseball organization, which has created highly acclaimed student mentoring and sports training program to serve youth in the Pitner Road area apartments and neighborhood.

Other speakers included Joyce Roberta “JR” Miller-Alper, also of SBEA, who spoke in tribute to Dr. Klussmann’s years as superintendent. Former Teachers of the Year Naomi Ford and Nicole Harris were featured in video remarks.

Memorial High School Theater students were featured in a special dinner performance. Nicole Morgan directs this group. The Landrum Middle School A Cappella performed song selections during the Years of Service Recognition for longtime employees and retirees. Choir director is Jaime Trigo.

SBISD Community Relations Officer Linda Buchman honored retirees by sharing that retirees between May 2014 and this month have a combined 2,741 years in education with an average number of years in education of 26 years.

Based on the educators’ service in SBISD only, retirees averaged 20 years of service and 2,078 years of serving the SBISD community and students. “If you consider that SBISD is not even 70 years old, you have, on average, served for nearly a third of the district’s history,” she told gathered guests.

Special Remarks: Anne Smalling of Memorial Drive Elementary

“Isn’t he (Student Speaker Michael O’Shell) amazing? And to think, I have 18 just like him. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I am a product of Spring Branch: Hollibrook Elementary, Spring Woods Junior High, and Northbrook High School Class of 1996. (Mr. Adami, I remember you as a Social Studies teacher at Spring Woods. Congrats!)

“I want to start by saying thank you to my mother, my first teacher. She taught me that being a teacher and a mother means that you must balance your time wisely, and love your students as you would love your children. It has been an incredible lesson to learn, and I think it has made me a better teacher.

“Secondly, I vividly remember the powers that be at Northbrook High School announcing that we were participating in “Teacher for a Day.” I jumped on the opportunity, and I chose to become my AP European History Teacher. She was a teacher I adored, a teacher who inspired me to love history, and a teacher that made me understand that a teacher should inspire greatness in everything they do. I owe a very special thanks to Jennifer (Patterson) Jordan who was my amazing teacher-leader then as well as my amazing principal-leader now.

“Lastly, I want to say thank you to Pamela Redd. Seven years ago, she took a chance on me to teach first grade. I did that for six years and loved it. She surprised me by moving me to fourth grade. Although I experienced hesitation at first, she reassured me I’d be excellent, and of course, I put my faith in her. She was right, I love fourth grade, and it was the very best choice for me!”

Special Remarks: Jaime Trigo of Landrum Middle School

“Wow!  I know all those who know me right about now are saying ‘Oh no, they gave him a mic!!!!  First, I’d like to congratulate the Elementary Teacher of the Year winner and finalists, the Principals of the Year, as well as the other finalists sitting behind me. You know that everyone who knows you knows that you are all winners for what you do every day. Let’s all give them a round of applause!

“Humbled, honored, thankful, appreciative, excited are but a few words that describe how I feel right now. I’d like to thank my administrators, Ms. Thomas and Mr. Speyrer, for being here to support me and our kids who will perform for us in a moment.  Without them none of this would be possible.  The other Landrum faculty and staff here to support us exemplifies that we are truly a family. 

“My sister and brother-in-law, and especially my daughter, who is the inspiration of my life and made me who I am today.  When I became a single dad back when she was 3 years old, I decided to raise her on my own, and doing that was the toughest thing I ever did in my life. After going through that, it made me so strong that I feel I can achieve anything.  All other problems are dwarfed in comparison.  I now feel I can do anything because of her. 

“I’d like to thank Dr. Klussmann for always supporting the arts with all his heart and soul. Helping create the SKY Partnership was a fantastic achievement that all others throughout the nation now study us as a standard in public school and charter school collaborations.  I live it and foster its development every day, and feel blessed to be at the forefront of such an elite educational philosophy.

“I am a man of many faults.  I am an imperfect man.  I am a man who makes mistakes every day.  I have lived on that premise my entire life, having grown up in a small South Texas town and not having every opportunity exposed or available to me.  Coming from very humble beginnings, my father, who is now in heaven, was the hardest working man I’ve known.  He instilled in me the desire to work so much harder than those around you in order to overcome your shortcomings, in order just to catch up to those who were better off.  I can’t stop working so very hard, that now, even when I’m ahead, I still go 1,000 percent before stopping sometimes to realize that I actually am very far ahead.  That work ethic is passed on to my students, who live the very same humble lives.

“I believe God put me in this school for a reason.  These students don’t have the best opportunities available to them, save for the ones we give them at school.  It is my duty to show them that they, too, can be superstars and can achieve anything that they set their minds on. I came and said I would be here for a year, then I stayed for another, then another.  Six years later, I realized I had fallen in love with these kids and knew that they needed me. 

“Every day is a life lesson in my class. It is my responsibility to show them what the real world is like, and to show them all the opportunities out there that await them.  They have risen to the challenge, knowing that I set the bar extremely high every day.  You can’t rest ever or someone else will take your place, your job, your scholarship, your trophy, your everything. They now know that someone is on their side to give them and show them these opportunities.  I love them with all my heart.

“Thank you, everyone, who help our youngsters become better people and contributors to our society.  I am truly proud and honored to work by your side. Thank you very much!


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