It was the first time in two years since Lake Houston got together in person to honor their best teachers.
“These teachers have done a great job and personify the resilience that makes the entire Lake Houston area so great,” said Erica Johnston, chair of Partnership Lake Houston. She was hosting Partnership Lake Houston’s annual Teachers of the Year luncheon March 22 at the Humble Civic Center.
“Thank you to all our teachers in attendance for all that you do,” she said.
“What an honor it is to be Teacher of the Year. I am honored and privileged to share this moment with you,” Dr. Roger Brown said as he made his way to the Partnership podium.
Dr. Brown was substituting for Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen who was scheduled to be keynote speaker but was out ill.
“Dr. Fagen would have loved to have been here,” said Brown who is Humble ISD’s deputy superintendent. “She was feeling ill, couldn’t make it, and asked me to step me. So here we go!”
As he began, Brown revealed that he is the grandfather of five, four of whom are Humble ISD students “ … and when I am with my grandchildren, I think how their school experience is so different from what I experienced as a student.”
Brown took the teachers and audience on a history lesson, emphasizing what he would share, the younger people in the audience may have to “ … Google it to figure what I am talking about.”
“This is called an 8-track,” Brown said, holding up an 8-track tape of Lynyrd Skynyrd that he kept along with a box of other 8-track tapes in his 1967 Firebird. “Those were the guy tapes but, when you were on a date, you threw in a little Barry Manilow,” holding up a Manilow 8-track.
Brown explained how he communicated with other young people — CB radios in the cars. Brown’s “handle” was “the Bird Man” he admitted to audience laughter.
Research for school involved going to what we called a library, Brown said, where we did our research using encyclopedias.
“Oh, how things have changed,” Brown said, raising up his iPhone. “You can do everything you want right here — your music, your communication, your research. Last night, my wife and I were watching ‘Bewitched’ and wondered how long it had been on.”
They Googled it, Brown said, and got their answer immediately — on from 1967 to 1972.
“The tools have changed in education but there is one thing that has never changed — and that is you,” Brown said, pointing to the teachers.
Brown talked about Melinda Keely, his sixth grade teacher, one of the best teachers he had ever seen. In her classroom, Brown and his classmates got to grow things, play with spiders and snakes, and the coolest thing of all, “ … she let us play tackle football at recess.”
What Brown remembered most about Ms. Keely was her coming to his home “ … sitting on the sofa, talking to my mom. I can see her at our football games. She always attended. And, you know, she kept in touch with me after sixth grade.”
Brown then held up messages on cards from Ms. Keely that he received through the years including after he was married.
“She may never have known how much she touched me. That is an amazing teacher. She is the teacher of a lifetime. Think about that in your world,” he said to the teachers in the audience. “Are you important, is what you do important as a teacher?”
Brown answered his own question, “Absolutely. You never know how many Rogers you will have in your classroom that you are going to touch. And they will live with that forever and talk about you even when they are 61 (Roger Brown’s age), and I still think about Ms. Keely and what a difference she made.”
As he finished his moving talk, Brown said, “The greatest gift you have ever received was given to you when you were conceived. So why do so many people choose to overachieve? The answer isn’t found in a book. It comes from within if you will only believe.”
“Thank you,” he concluded, “for helping your students because that is the most important role we have in education.”
Besides receiving their Teacher of the Year award and a tasty lunch from the Partnership, all teaches received gifts from the luncheon sponsors and certificates of appreciation from Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw, Texas State Rep. Dan Huberty, Houston Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Martin and the Humble City Council.
The 53 teachers were selected, one from each school, by their peers as that campus’ Teacher of the Year:
Humble ISD Elementary Schools
Melissa Swann - Atascocita Springs
Chinele Poole - Autumn Creek
Anne Lynch - Bear Branch
Stacy Coughlin - Centennial
Jamie Phelps - Deerwood
Melanie Pessetti - Eagle Springs
Abigail Cline - Elm Grove
Adrienne Laygan - Fall Creek
Jill Honeycutt - Foster
Jasmin Cradic - Greentree
Andrea Iwinski - Groves
Christopher Guajardo - Hidden Hollow
Deissy Landeros-Reynolds - Humble
Tamara Ojeda Bonilla - Jack Fields
Patricia Perez - Lakeland
Rachelle Hall - Lakeshore
Deanna Galeucia - Maplebrook
Maria Osornia - North Belt
Andrea Harisis - Oak Forest
Kelle Banda - Oaks
Adrienne Despaux - Pine Forest
Olivia Eastland - Ridge Creek
Tiffani Perkins - River Pines
Jennifer Sanchez - Shadow Forest
Sarah Shivers - Summerwood
Stacey Ward - Timbers
Angela Smith - Whispering Pines
Lindsey Rinnan - Willow Creek
Linda Azzollini - Woodland Hills
Humble ISD Middle Schools
James Hogue - Atascocita
Janelle Hunt - Creekwood
Richard Davis - Humble
Jessica Eoff - Kingwood
Jordan Stoll - Riverwood
LaQuanta Irvin-Smith - Ross Sterling
Brandi West - Timberwood
Gracie Zamarron - West Lake
Gwenanne Gabel - Woodcreek
Humble ISD High Schools
Mark Pyeatt - Atascocita
Rachel Pama - Guy M. Sconzo Early College
Ashlee Noel - Humble
Cindy Welch - Kingwood
Kory Kaspar - Kingwood Park
Nathanael Wooley - Summer Creek
Tina Ewing - Community Learning Center
Lone Star College – Kingwood
Dr. CaLandra Pervis
San Jacinto College – Generation Park
Dr. Madhu Gyawali
Holy Trinity Episcopal School
St Mary Magdalene Catholic School
Humble Christian School