Monday, May 7, 2018

SBISD’s 2018 Teachers of the Year Announced

An elementary school librarian and a high school journalism and yearbook instructor were named as Spring Branch ISD’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year during a special district recognition event held Tuesday, April 24.

Librarian Heather Bothe of Frostwood Elementary School and Memorial High’s Holly Hartman, who teaches journalism and oversees both a student newspaper and yearbook, are 2018’s top district educators.

The winning teachers were announced publicly on the field at Minute Maid Park before Tuesday evening’s Houston Astros-Los Angeles Angels game, the site of the annual SBISD Service Awards for a second year. In unusual final results for World Series champions, the Astros fell 8-7 to the Angels.

As top teachers, Hartman and Bothe received a trophy-style Golden Apple award, a $1,000 cash prize made possible through the ongoing support of Memorial Hermann Memorial City Hospital and the First Community Credit Union, and a $2,000 professional growth stipend from the school district.

Tuesday’s Service Awards attracted more than 1,300 employees and guests to Minute Maid Park. The celebration event included a fun, pre-game reception in Union Station. Attendees received game tickets and individual food vouchers.

SBISD Superintendent Scott Muri, Ed.D., presented the Golden Apples to Bothe and Hartman during a brief, on-field announcement that displayed larger than life on a Jumbo Tron screen located above the third baseline where the ceremony occurred.

Teacher of the Year finalists were joined on the ballfield by Principal of the Year Chris Winstead of Pine Shadows Elementary, SBISD retirees, district Board of Trustees President Karen Peck, Trustee Carter Breed and Trustee Josef Klam.

SBISD Secondary Principal of the Year Sarah Guerrero did not attend. She gave birth April 26 to a healthy baby boy, a great life celebration all its own.


Frostwood Elementary Librarian Heather Bothe


Elementary Teacher of the Year Heather Bothe, a 19-year Texas educator, has been the librarian at Frostwood Elementary for the past two years. She has also worked in Houston ISD, and was a Stewart Title automation coordinator in her early career.

She earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and then later earned alternative certification through the University of St. Thomas. She was awarded a master’s degree in library science from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville in 2017.

Congratulations from the greater Frostwood community flowed in after her Teacher of the Year award was announced. By the next morning, her well-wishers ranged from students with hand-made cards to adult library volunteers.

Frostwood’s librarian was just happy she did not faint on field, and says she followed the advice of Trustee Klam who told the finalists never to lock their knees while standing on field, one way to “faint” after being named a winner.

Bothe dedicated her award to the school community for enduring a difficult year, with so many campus families impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

“This means a lot to the Frostwood community. We have all gone through so much with Harvey and flooding. I do believe that this was Frostwood’s year for an award because the community and the volunteers here are so incredibly amazing,” Bothe said.

She thanked the community on Facebook, too. “I would like to thank all of my colleagues, Frostwood families and students who make me the best librarian possible,” she wrote. “I am humbled by this honor and so thankful to be a part of such an amazing and supportive community. This is for all of you!”

Bothe also gave thanks to her family and friends “who fill in for me when I’m giving my all to a community I love.”

In addition to her library role, Bothe serves Frostwood as a webmaster and social media manager, campus technology representative, team leader and Campus Improvement Team member.

Some related community credentials include the National Charity League, Junior League of Houston, and the Memorial High School PTA. She has been a Girl Scout co-leader for more than 15 years, too.

Bothe is a recipient of the SBISD School Bell Award and is a PTA Lifetime Achievement Award winner. A campus Teacher of the Year winner, she is also a five-time HISD campus Teacher of the Year nominee.


Memorial High Journalism Adviser Holly Hartman


Memorial High’s Holly Hartman has her own story about Hurricane Harvey as a social media volunteer coordinator who helped coordinate the rescue of many flooded-out families and individuals by working alone from her home.

She first shared her incredible volunteer role with the Houston Chronicle newspaper, which rated it the paper’s most read online account of 2017. Her article will be published in the May edition of The Reader’s Digest.

Hartman, a 23-year Texas educator, has taught 12 years at Memorial High School. She wears several instructional hats, teaching journalism and also serving as student newspaper and yearbook adviser.

As Media Dept. chair, Hartman manages curriculum, planning and budgets for all broadcast and photo journalism, newspaper and yearbook classes.

The Memorial student yearbook, Reata, has published a 568-page edition. Today, the student newspaper, The Anvil, is a 28-page color magazine with a six-times-a-year publishing calendar.

Both student-run publications have won numerous awards under Hartman, who moved to the high school after teaching English at Spring Branch Middle School and advising students on the yearbook there.

Among many notable awards, Memorial’s students have brought home the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Gold Crown Award, first of its kind in SBISD, and the National Scholastic Press Association’s (NSPA) Pacemaker Award, also a first-ever award in SBISD.

Hartman estimates that she spends 50 or more hours per month outside of the regular teaching day to make sure students are supported and meet all publishing deadlines for newspaper and yearbook.

For all her accomplishments, Hartman was humbled by the on-field award presentation at Minute Maid Park.

“Getting to go on the field at the Astros game was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget,” she said. “I’m so appreciative to everyone involved in organizing the event and making all the honored teachers feel so valued.”

“It is humbling to be selected as the district’s Teacher of the Year, as I know there are so many qualified, outstanding teachers in this district who are just as worthy of this recognition as I am,” Hartman also said. “I’ve loved my 20 years in SBISD and am proud to represent the district. I really do feel like I have the greatest teaching job in the state.”

In addition to Memorial High and Spring Branch Middle, Hartman served as education director for one year at the Holocaust Museum Houston. She has also taught in the Hayes and Burnet Consolidated ISDs.

She earned a bachelor of science degree in speech communications at the University of Texas at Austin. She also received certifications in elementary education and language arts, English as a Second Language (ESL), and in journalism.

A recent highlight for Hartman has been summer teacher-chaperone trips through National Geographic Student Photography program expeditions to such diverse destinations as Africa, Iceland, Italy and Greece, and Fiji.

During a 2015 Fiji trip, Hartman became close to a 12-year-old village girl, Janet Rokotuitai, and her mother while staying in the village for five days.

Keeping in touch, Hartman helped Janet make her first visit to the United States recently, flying to Los Angeles to meet the teenager and fly back to
Houston. She will stay with Hartman and her relatives for several weeks.

Janet saw the Memorial High journalism teacher win the top district award at Minute Maid Park. The young Fijian traveled 25 hours by boat, then flew 11 hours just to get to Los Angeles.

“It’s been so fun watching her experience so many new things here. Janet lives on a remote island and has never been outside Fiji,” Hartman said.

As Teachers of the Year, Hartman and Bothe will represent the district in regional competition. If successful, they will compete at the state and the national level.

During its history, SBISD has had four teachers named regional and Texas Teachers of the Year. Many more district educators have been recognized as regional-level finalists, or they have won separate awards and honors.


Teachers of the Year Prepare for Regionals


Campus Teacher of the Year candidates are first nominated by the district’s students, parents, teachers and interested community members.

More than 1,400 individual nominations were received this year. In all, 871 teachers were nominated.

Members of the SBISD Teacher of the Year Committee read and reviewed all campus Teacher of the Year applications, including videos submitted by candidates. The committee then rank voted and named six finalists.

In addition to Bothe and Hartman, this year’s Teacher of the Year finalists included Kate Zuelke of Edgewood Elementary and Stephanie Chambers at Bendwood School. At the secondary level, finalists included Ryan Beeler of Spring Woods and Janice Cummons of Stratford high schools.

Recognized earlier as this year’s SBISD Principals of the Year were Chris Winstead of Pine Shadows Elementary and Sarah Guerrero of Northbrook Middle School.

The district this year is also planning to honor about 80 retirees, who will be recognized publicly at May’s regular meeting of the Board of Trustees. That meeting will be held at Memorial High School due to crowd capacity needs. Together, retiring educators represent hundreds of years of service to local students and families.

The Service Awards reception at Union Station and the Astros Game event were coordinated by the SBISD Community Relations and Communications teams, with planning led by Community Relations Specialist Becky Wuerth.

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