From an early age, Nelda Luce Blair had what it takes to be a lawyer. When her third-grade teacher left the room for a few minutes, little Nelda went up to the front and took over the class — and got herself in trouble.
Her high-school English teacher told her that she wrote like a lawyer. Her speech teacher saw that spark in Nelda and put her on the debate team.
“These are the people — the teachers — who inspired me when I was growing up,” Blair told her Zoom audience at the Lake Houston Chamber’s annual — and unique — Teachers of the Year Lunch-In Oct. 20.
Honoring Lake Houston’s teachers had been scheduled for March, but COVID-19 intervened. This year, instead of enjoying their annual luncheon at the Humble Civic Center, teachers from each of the private and public schools in Lake Houston were treated to “special deliveries.” Chamber members volunteered to go to each school and present each honored teacher with an award, proclamations from area elected officials, gift bags filled with items from event sponsors, and lunch.
“You are the lifeblood of our community,” Blair told the teachers. “Not only do we appreciate you, all of the parents have certainly learned to appreciate you, too.”
During the Zoom lunch-in, State Rep. Dan Huberty presented an award from the chamber and a resolution from the Texas House of Representatives to Dr. Katherine Persson, who is retiring at the end of the year as president of Lone Star College-Kingwood.
“I’ve known Katherine for more than 20 years and, as our House resolution says, we honor her for the work she’s done to help so many young people earn a degree,” Huberty said. “Through her efforts, a countless number of students have been inspired to go to the next level in their education.”
Blair took viewers on her own journey through education as a fifth-generation Texan who was the first in her family to go to college.
“What a life changer it was when I was accepted into Baylor University,” she said, “and my law degree from the University of Houston Law Center opened even more doors for me.”
Today, Blair is president and owner of Blair Law Firm, president of the Conroe ISD Education Foundation, board member of the Lone Star College System’s Chancellors Advisory Council, and was appointed by Texas governors to the University of Houston and the Stephen F. Austin State University boards of regents.
“It was my teachers who inspired me,” she said, “pretty great for a little girl who got into trouble in the third grade for taking over the class.”
Blair ended the event by recognizing the parents who are assisting their children at home and learning to appreciate the teachers as well.
“Thank you to the chamber, Rep. Huberty and President Persson for advocating education,” Blair said. “As our schools go, so goes our community.”
The program can be viewed on the chamber’s Facebook page. Upcoming Lake Houston Chamber lunch-ins and BizComs are listed on the chamber website, lakehouston.org.
Teachers of the Year
Exceptional teachers who were honored:
Lone Star College – Kingwood:
Icess Fernandez, Brandolyn Jones, Ed.D., Matthew Newton, Ph.D., Nathalie Vega-Rhodes, M.S.
Holy Trinity Episcopal School
Humble Christian School
Jessica Raglon-Russaw, Nathan Warner
Atascocita Springs Elementary-Mary Burke
Bear Branch Elementary-Lisa Wilkey
Deerwood Elementary-Kasey Collette
Eagle Springs Elementary-Darcy Petzold
Elm Grove Elementary-Juliana Schone
Fall Creek Elementary-Kristen Edson
Foster Elementary-Lindsay Allen
Greentree Elementary-Terisa Spencer
Groves Elementary-Briana Boston
Hidden Hollow Elementary-Amy Shatzer
Humble Elementary-Keith Kitts
Jack Fields Elementary-Marleen Gomez
Lakeland Elementary-Vanesa Reyes
Lakeshore Elementary-Jonathan Kaciuba
Maplebrook Elementary-Lorrie Ogletree
North Belt Elementary-Esther Cundiff
Oak Forest Elementary-Crystal James
Pine Forest Elementary-Todd Limbaugh
Ridge Creek Elementary-Kimberly Nelson
River Pines Elementary-Lynsy Curry
Shadow Forest Elementary-Kasey Toensfeldt
Summerwood Elementary-Ashley Shirey
Timbers Elementary-Rebecca Spurgeon
Whispering Pines Elementary-Azuree Bernard
Willow Creek Elementary-Robin Hornback
Woodland Hills Elementary-Jennifer Heyl
Atascocita Middle-George Mayhall
Creekwood Middle-John Baron
Humble Middle-Lynsey Thrower
Kingwood Middle-Brittany Ransom
Riverwood Middle-Shawna McGrath
Ross Sterling Middle-Laurie Jack
Timberwood Middle-Heather Friedman
West Lake Middle-Linda Fruge
Woodcreek Middle-Jessica Kimble
Atascocita High School-Itzel Burt
Humble High School-Saul Keene
Kingwood High School-Anisha Razo
Kingwood Park High School-Rolanda Wilkins
Summer Creek High School-Yinka Boudreaux
Quest Early College High School-Valerie Booth
Career and Technology Education Center-Kelssem Quintal
Community Learning Center-Kerri Bearnth
The Rhodes School of Performing Arts
Humble Elementary School Campus-Shamekia Williams
Humble Middle School Campus-Vanessa Merino
Living Word Campus-Ling Zhang
Northshore Campus-Kamyra Harrisson
St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School
Leticia Garay, Rebecca Amstutz, April Dandridge