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Texas

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Stephanie Barraza

Position: First Grade Teacher

School: Elfida P. Chavez Elementary

School District: Socorro ISD

How has this person changed your life?

My daughter Alina was this quiet, shy, a timid little girl. Who would always get taken over by her emotions. This year she got Mrs.Barraza for 1st grade and has drastically improved. Mrs. Barraza has guided her and helped her come out of her shell. She talks, laughs, and smiles more. She is now lively and such a chatterbox. She speaks up for herself and happy to have so many friends. Mrs. Barraza has helped my student learn to be independent by showing her different strategies to problem solve. This has help my students to stop and think about a problem first before asking for help.The independence she has shown my child to have has improved her life altogether not just as school but in her everday life. Mrs.Barraza also has gone out of her way to also help myself with my younger child and different ways to help her grow in reading and letter recognition. Besides being a teacher she is very involved in the school with extra curricular activities such as Destinations Imagination and UIL. She is a team player and she helps out by tutoring students of other grade levels during her breaks. She is very passionate about teaching and instilling values and love for school and independence in the children. What I admire about her is her classroom management. She has established accountability for each student and holds them to a higher standard. Although the students know she is strict they also understand she is fair. She treats her students the way she wants her own children to be treated. I hope you take my nominee into consideration on the difference she has made in our lives.

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Mike Yake

Position: Coach

School: Lakeside Middle School

School District: Little Elm ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Coach Yake is just an awesome person! He goes above and beyond. He pushes you to do your best, he believes in you. He has passion to see his students and athletes develop and improve. Such and encouraging person with a great sense of humor.

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Janet Joseph

Position: Principal

School: KEYS High School

School District: Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD

How has this person changed your life?

My son Thomas was not motivated to finish high school. He had only successfully completed 4 credit hours for toward graduation as a junior. She accepted him into KEYS, our credit recovery high school and along with the amazing staff she has, graduated him within 8 months of starting. She mentored, pushed, loved him through every day. She worked with him to accommodate his specific needs. She is a leader. Thomas is one example of a long career she has had in education. She is one of the most incredible people I have had the privilege of knowing. She is retiring this year. Although I am sad to see her leave our district, she has earned the rest.

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Erlinda De Guzman

Position: 6th Grade Teacher

School: Shotwell Middle School

School District: Aldine ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Erlinda is the person you want to work with if your enthusiasm in education needs to fire-up. She is the person who really values educating her students and takes pride on their accomplishments. She regularly attends staff development trainings and other educational opportunities for additional knowledge. For the past three years and up to the present she worked evenings a week with a Parent Literacy Program, which teaches English to Spanish speaking parents. She provided tutorials two days a week, and work with small group of students for additional help. Currently is a mentor to a first year teacher at Shotwell Academy. Her perceptions about educations: good teachers, dedication, hard work, and organization are priorities.

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Mariene Garwick

Position: Spanish Teacher

School: Opportunity Awareness Center

School District: Katy ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Ms. Garwick has changed my life through the example she shows to her colleagues and students on a daily basis. I am a counselor and I have learned so much from her undying positive regard for her students. No one works harder than her. She shows up early and stays late to create exciting lessons for her students. As a foreign language teacher, she is very active in the Houston Area Teachers of Foreign Languages, a professional association. Previously she has served as the Spanish language Chair, as well as other leadership positions within that association. She has also been honored as a Honorary Lifetime Member of HATFL after having served the board for 10 years.

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Michele Chavis

Position: Teacher / Coach

School: Alief Taylor High School

School District: Alief ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Michele is a Physical Education teacher and Coach who motivates and engages every student no matter there physical ability in all of her activities. Her ability to to help the students live a zestful and productive life carries on to her after school activities as a coach as well. Michele is my assistant volleyball coach where she helps me improve the skills of all the student athletes and sets high standards for them on and off the court. Michele is a single parent of a 1 year old and still manages to always bring smiles to the students although she my personal be physically drained

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Katrina Baines

Position: Academic Assessment Specialist

School: Magrill EC/PK/K

School District: Aldine ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Katrina is a shining star because she never fails to assist others with whatever they need. She has been working for Aldine for approximately 20 years and has given her all in her position and continues to impact others. It isn't often that leaders outside the classroom are acknowledged but I hope this body will consider her for your award. She comes early and stays late to assist the most challenging students. She shows them love, compassion and comfort and counsels them when they are wrong. She is an excellent candidate for the shining star award.

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Tiffany Martin

Position: K-5 Math Specialist

School: Heritage Rose Elementary

School District: Fort Bend ISD

How has this person changed your life?

My wife has taught me what the true meaning of hard work and dedication means. She runs a math lab for students in Kinder through 5th grade and her ultimate goal is to bring the love of math back into the hearts of students. She's saddened by the high number of students who dislike math, think math is hard, or they are a failure in math. She always determined and prepared to change their growth mindset. Her math lab is colorful, inviting, and fun. Her lessons includes singing/ rapping/ dancing, hands on investigations where she allows time for the students to explore on their own with a group where no one is chastised for their wrong answer however Mrs. Martin doesn't accept the answer, I don't know. She gives sentence stems to for them to ask instead of saying I don't know. For her hardwork and will to have students fall in love with math is respected. The students love her and adore her unique teaching.

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Amy Forrester

Position: Kindergarten Teacher

School: Gilbert Willie, Sr. Elementary

School District: Terrell ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Amy Forrester has been the best teacher for my son. He has anxiety and sensory disorders. Starting school was such a challenge for him ans myself. However, Amy made this transition so easy with her understanding of him, and her overall being a wonderful teacher. He loved kindergarten, my second son is in sped and she goes out of her way to check on both of my boys and make sure they are having a good day. She is so caring, loving and talented. She lost her mother this year and still made sure she checked on my boys. That was amazing to me in her time of grief she still cared about her students all over the school. She helps me to understand accommodations for my son and helps me meet the teachers who work with him. She truly loves her students and does everything she can to help them feel comfortable and succeed. Thank you for considering Amy Forrester!

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Jeromy Collins

Position: Drama Teacher

School: Lakeside Middle School

School District: Little Elm ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Mr. Collins goes above and beyond for his students and for each production he helps them put on. He is passionate about theater and helps his students become just as passionate. He leaves a legacy of learning and genuine care for students and colleagues.

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Blake Jameson

Position: AVID Teacher / Coach

School: Lakeside Middle School

School District: Little Elm ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Blake is very passionate when it comes to his kids. When he meets his students, whether it be in his AVID classroom or in the gym coaching, he wants them to be a smarter, stronger, better person when they move on than they were when he met them. He gets to know his students like they are his own. They know if they need something or someone to talk to, they can go to him.

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Jennifer Meggett

Position: 8th Grade Math Teacher

School: Zachry Middle School

School District: Northside ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Jennifer Meggett began a program for promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) within our female population. She meets weekly with her club and the girls do all sorts of projects based on the sciences. In addition, she takes the female students to numerous field trips and often pays for things out of her own pocket. This has been eye-opening for our youth and allows them to believe that anything is possible. Jennifer works hard and does everything necessary to help her students achieve.

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Ryan Garcia

Position: ELAR Teacher

School: Socorro High School

School District: Socorro ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Ryan is a dedicated team member whose "WHY" is helping kids.. He looks at making sure they have not only have support in the classroom but out of it. He attends students different events, has created an anime club for them and is 100% supportive of his colleagues. He is a true role model.

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Brandie Raney

Position: 4th Grade Teacher

School: Gibert Willie, Sr. Elementary

School District: Terrell ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Ms. Raney has impacted my life because she has helped me over the past few years become a much stronger teacher and person. She is very open minded and this has helped me to see different ways to teach in the classroom. It has also taught me to become more flexible in the classroom and not always take things so seriously. She enjoys what she does and it shows in her students. She has a passion for children and teaching and the students love her for it. She is energetic and enthusiastic while teaching and that motivates her students and her coworkers to rise to that level.

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Tessia Brixey

Position: Assistant Principal

School: Chancellor Elementary

School District: Alief ISD

How has this person changed your life?

She is easy to talk to. She is very good at her job. She takes extra time out of her busy schedule to meet with children and encourage them. She is a leader and wants children to succeed.

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Alecia Valdez

Position: 4th Grade ELA Teacher

School: Benignus Elementary

School District: Klein ISD

How has this person changed your life?:

Alecia joined my 4th grade team 8 years ago as a brand new teacher. She quickly became a trusted colleague and friend. Eager to learn, Alecia dove right into the work headfirst. She utilized her strengths of working quickly on the computer to speed up our planning. She listened and observed what experienced teachers were doing that first year. The second year she confidently offered more than her computer skills. She asked me about my book clubs and she expressed interest in trying something new. Tentatively, she began with grouping her students by similar reading level in a book club novel. She wrestled with time management and organization of implementing the book clubs, however, she faced each challenge head on. She asked her teammates and problem solved to make the book clubs the best learning experience for her students.
Fast forward a few years and Alecia stepped out of her comfort zone to teach 5th grade for one year. Discovering that 4th grade is her true love she moved back to 4th the following year, but with new exciting ideas. After attending a workshop on standards based grading, Alecia worked all summer rethinking the work her students were doing in her classroom. Tirelessly, she created rubrics, assessments, data trackers, and videos to transform her classroom into a classroom better fit for today's learners. She convinced her principal and her team to try her new strategic grading. She provided ample explanations and feedback so parents and students embraced the change. This year she is at it again with the transformation of her direct instruction to her students. With the variety of challenges she has faced she recognized that her students needed more small group teaching to master essential standards. She stepped out of her comfort zone again and adapted her teaching. She is always willing to try something if she sees the benefit for her students and welcomes feedback from her team members or me (now a Literacy Specialist). Her dedication, thoughtfulness, and determination to support her students shines above many great educators.

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Robin Clouse

Position: Developmental Special Education Teacher

School: Kreinhop Elementary

School District: Klein ISD

How has this person changed your life?

Robin is one of the most compassionate, kind and loving teachers I have ever met. She has such a love and passion for her students that she faces even the most challenging situations with a calm loving spirit. She makes me want to be a better person and just watching her in action proves the theory that some people are natural born teachers. In my 29 years in education, I have worked along side some great teachers but Robin is one I would classify as simply amazing.

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LaToya Larkin

Position: Culinary Teacher

School: Spring High School

School District: Spring ISD

How has this person changed your life?:

Latoya Larkin is not only a friend, but a positive inspiration to myself and other women. She is hard working, loving and very ambitious. She deserves the Sterling Shining Star Award because of all her hard work and time she has put in and the excellent results that came from it.

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Cynthia Aguilar

Position: Reading Coach

School: Larkspur Elementary

School District: North East ISD

How has this person changed your life?:

Cynthia is a dedicated educator who is determined in helping both teachers and students grow. It is early on in the year but she has already driven into the Reading data and created an action on how she will support student growth. Day after day, I love seeing her passion to help others. No job is ever too big and she will share her resources with all teachers. It is inspiring to see someone who knows all students can achieve.

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Johnny Diaz

Position: Distribution Center Team Member

School: Distribution Center

School District: Pflugerville ISD

How has this person changed your life?:

I met Johnny while he was making his deliveries. He has always been very generous in giving of his time and effort to do his job. Johnny would be willing to help as needed without hesitation. I later met his wife, who also worked for the district at the time. She spoke very proudly of her husband and confirmed the things I saw of this employee in helping his colleagues was very accurate. He is very family-oriented and driven to do his job to the best of his ability. Johnny was named Support Services employee of the Year in 2016. He has a great attitude about life, family and work. Johnny always has a smile on his face, even on those toughest days. Sadly, recent visits to doctors and specialists have uncovered stage 4 bone cancer. Johnny has been very strong in his visits for radiation and he and his wife are very optimistic about the future. Their Faith, Family and Friends are supporting them in any way possible.

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