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Teacher finds great satisfaction in serving troubled youth

2015 January 15
by HISD Communications
Elizabeth Similien-MacKingtee

Elizabeth Similien-MacKingtee

Elizabeth Similien-MacKingtee has been a member of Team HISD for 35 years now, but in a way, she has had two different careers with the district. The first was at Revere Middle School, where she served as a science teacher for two decades. The second started about 15 years ago, when she joined the Community Services department.

“I was at a conference one time, and mentioned wanting to retire so I could work with the Sunshine Kids,” said Similien-MacKingtee. “Someone said, ‘Well, you don’t have to wait. We have teachers in the hospital right now.’ And that’s how I found out about Community Services.”

Since then, the veteran educator has been working with some of the state’s most-troubled and sick youth, both in and out of various correctional, psychiatric, and healthcare facilities.

“My strong suit is working with behavioral children,” said Similien-MacKingtee. “But I also have compassion for kids who are medically ill. I spend half a day in juvenile detention, and half with home-bound students, some of whom are battling for their lives after heart transplants. In those situations, you also have to be a cheerleader for the parents.”

Similien-MacKingtee acknowledges that it takes a special type of person to work with gravely ill and deeply troubled young people, but insists she finds great satisfaction in her career choice.

“This year, I have some of the most explosive students I’ve ever dealt with, but the students are always a challenge,” she said. “I don’t have problems with them. As an adult, you always want the kids to respect you, but you have to show them respect first. There’s never a dull moment.”

“Some of these young men have been homicidal or suicidal,” added Similien-MacKingtee, “and they don’t trust anybody, so just to break through that is so rewarding. After the holiday break, one of my boys ran up to me and gave me a hug and a lollipop. It’s a special kind of candy that he knows I can’t find on my side of town, so he saved it for me. That was really special.”

Similien-MacKingtee will officially mark her 35th anniversary with the district on Jan. 17, but a few other employees have also marked theirs this month (Jan. 1–17). See if you know anyone on this list:

40 years

  • Emma Lollis, attendant team lead, Food Services
  • Jan Walker, teacher, Pilgrim Academy

35 years

  • Yolanda Brantford, teacher, Oak Forest ES
  • Francis Ding, IT team lead, Internal Audit
  • Shari Emelle, teacher, Revere MS
  • Yolanda Evans, specialist, Secondary Curriculum
  • Cheryl Hughes, logistics manager, Bond Fund Program
  • Khalid Kukoyi, teacher, Madison HS
  • Daphne Morgan, teacher, Cook JR ES
  • Consuelo Solis, clerk, Student Assessment
  • Betty Williams, program specialist, Special Education
  • Antonia Yanez,  clerk, Braeburn ES

30 years

  • Ercilia Ampudia, teacher, Looscan ES
  • Hector Bello, master electrician, Construction & Facility Services
  • Oberon Coleman, teacher, HSLECJ
  • Bobby Jones, custodian, Construction & Facility Services
  • Constance Lathan, instructional specialist, King ECC
  • Leonora Mejia,student information representative, Patterson ES
  • Myra Njoku, program specialist, Special Education
  • Lottie Williams, custodian, Construction & Facility Services

25 years

  • Willie Bailey, associate teacher
  • Jacqueline Carpenter, teacher, HSPVA
  • Kelly Clawson, teacher, Edison MS
  • Chante DeBelle, bus driver, Transportation Services
  • April Dever, evaluation specialist Child Study
  • Kevin Frei, teacher, Madison HS
  • Carla Guillory, teaching assistant, Ross ES
  • Brett Hervat, teacher, Bellaire HS
  • Jaye Robinson, bus driver, Transportation Services
  • Laura Teatsworth, teacher, Garden Villas ES

20 years

  • Sue Aaronson, teacher, Bonham ES
  • Josephine Benitez, teaching assistant, R. Martinez ES
  • Pamela Bosman, teacher, Bellaire HS
  • Raymond Cain Jr, teacher, Lamar HS
  • Ann Danet-Ebrahimi, record and information manager, Administrative Services
  • Anthony Harvey, senior electrician, Construction & Facility Services
  • Russell Lewandowski, Special Education employment representative, Bellaire HS
  • Valenti Moore, teacher, Frost ES
  • Eunice Ponce, clerk, Davis HS
  • Margarita Robles, teaching assistant, Johnston MS
  • Hilda Salazar, teacher, Cage ES
  • Perla Sanchez, teacher, DeAnda ES
  • Sandra Scranton, clerk, Chavez HS
  • BeverlySmith, teacher, Alcott ES
  • Terry Thomas, teacher, DeBakey HS
  • Cardelia Wiseman, secretary, Robinson ES
  • Helen Wood, secretary, Bush ES

15 years

  • Erika Alexander, customer service representative, Employee Relations
  • Gloria Altamirano, custodian, Construction & Facility Services
  • Ricardo Avila, teacher, Reagan HS
  • Gary Bishop, teacher, Yates HS
  • Dana Carmouche, teacher, Lee HS
  • Gloria Clarke, lead teacher, Bellaire HS
  • Gilbert Diaz Jr, teacher, Elmore ES School
  • Bertha Espinosa-Garza, assistant principal, Briscoe ES
  • Deborah Flowers, teacher, Anderson ES
  • Jacquelyn Franklin, teacher, Seguin ES School
  • Pamela Hinsey, teacher, Herod ES
  • Linh Hoang, teacher, Pershing MS
  • Cordell Holloman, plant operator, Construction & Facility Services
  • Melissa Iglesias, teacher, J. P. Henderson ES
  • Keshia Julian, teacher, Fonwood ECC
  • Jennifer Lemon, teacher, Parker ES
  • Jennifer Moore, magnet coordinator, Harvard ES
  • Iraida Olmedo, teacher, Braeburn ES
  • Ruthanne Parker, student information representative, Gregory-Lincoln Education Center
  • Marie Reed, associate teacher
  • Alfonso Reyna, teacher, Cage ES
  • Maura Reyes, teaching assistant, Sutton ES
  • Ronnie Riles, customer service representative, Information Technology
  • Veronica Sanchez, teacher, Smith ES
  • Natasha Smith,Special Education chair, Ortiz MS
  • Sonja Vodehnal, teacher, Reagan HS
  • Karen Watts, teacher, Twain ES
  • Iralyn Whittingham, teaching assistant, Lamar HS
  • Mei Wu, teacher, Edison MS

10 years

  • Laura Adame, teaching assistant, Sutton ES
  • Lilia Aguilar, teaching assistant, C. Martinez ES
  • Sharon Bauknight, logistics manager, Student Assessment
  • Imelda Benson,Crossing GuardCrossing Guards
  • Doris Blake, teacher, Twain ES
  • Susan Boyd, secretary, Lamar HS
  • Gina Colion-Hernandez, teacher, Rice School
  • Eleanor Crocker, teacher, Lanier MS
  • Melissa Denamarquez, teacher, Milby HS
  • Donna Easter, attendant, Food Services
  • Fernando Galaviz, grounds worker, Construction & Facility Services
  • Melody Gerard, teacher, Mickey Leland College Prep
  • Nadine Ghosn, assistant principal, Scarborough HS
  • Christina Gonzalez, teacher, Johnston MS
  • Teresa Herrin, teacher, Bellaire HS
  • Arnita Hodge, associate teacher
  • David Husbands, operations manager, Food Services
  • Antonia Ibarra-Torres, teacher, Bonner ES
  • Sarah Johnson, teacher, Westbury HS
  • Sharon Jones, teacher, Kashmere HS
  • Erin Kline, teacher, Hamilton MS
  • Cindy Le, clerk, School at St. George Place
  • Laura Llanas, teacher, De Chaumes ES
  • Jamie Lopez, teacher, Middle College at HCC Fraga
  • Jane Lopez, clerk, Shearn ES
  • Beverly Marlin,curriculum specialist, Secondary Curriculum and Development
  • Domitila Martinez, custodian, Construction & Facility Services
  • Amy McIntyre, teacher, Bellaire HS
  • Maria Mendez, attendant, Food Services
  • Zaira Ramos, teacher, Cornelius ES
  • Charlie Reed, mailroom attendant, Transportation
  • Lawrence Richmond, teaching assistant, Pershing MS
  • Michael Rivera, teacher, Johnston MS
  • Marlen Rodriguez, attendant, Food Services
  • Sandra Rodriguez, attendant, Food Services
  • Mayra Rosales, custodian, Construction & Facility Services
  • Rosa Ruiz, custodian, Construction & Facility Services
  • Sherry Taylor, attendant, Food Services
  • Ilene Thomas, teacher, Lovett ES
  • Luis Tovar, maintenance team lead, Construction & Facility Services
  • Margeurite Williams, crossing guard, Piney Point ES

5 years

  • Katherine Anderson, associate teacher
  • Amir Bellamy, teacher, Jackson MS
  • Ashley Brown, teacher, Sharpstown Intl. School
  • Ashley Duran, graduation coach, Milby HS
  • Timothy Glover, teacher, HSPVA
  • Sarah Greer Osborne, general manager, Strategic & School Communications
  • Tracey Hall, teacher, Shearn ES
  • Danielle Isles, associate teacher
  • Deborah Joseph, bus driver, Transportation Services
  • Edmond King, associate teacher
  • Olivia Knootz, bus driver, Transportation Services
  • Truc Luong, teacher specialist, Park Place ES
  • Catina Omowale, bus driver, Transportation Services
  • Connie Pattum, bus driver, Transportation Services
  • Magdalena Ramon, teacher, Sanchez ES
  • Myrian Redman, teacher, Fonwood ECC
  • Veronica Reynaga, secretary, Marshall MS
  • Christopher Salinas, custodian, Construction & Facility Services
  • Sherry Stoger, teacher, Milne ES
  • Karim Treistman, teacher, The Rice School
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