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50+ year educator says she’ll leave Team HISD ‘when they push me out on a gurney’

2014 September 4
by HISD Communications
Sue Ann Payne today

Sue Ann Payne

For someone who never intended to be an educator, Sue Ann Payne has an awfully long history as one. The Austin High School alumna (Class of 1953) now boasts more than 50 years of service to HISD alone, and 55 all together.

“Really and truly, I never wanted to be a teacher,” said Payne. “I was going to UH to work on my master’s degree, and I saw this ad that said emergency teachers were needed in critical shortage areas, so I did it.”

Her first assignment as a kindergarten teacher at Franklin Elementary School did not start off well. “I went home and cried every night just like the children did during the day,” she admitted. “I kept thinking, ‘What have I done?’”

But then her principal found out she had a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and put all 47 “problem” students into a single classroom with her. “He told me those kids had never had anything but failure, so I could do just about anything I wanted with them,” Payne explained. “And I did. We wrote poetry, and did all sorts of things. I loved that class. I had it for two years. And I just fell in love (with education) and never left.”

In addition to teaching, Payne served as a counselor, a principal, and the assistant superintendent of personnel (now HR) before retiring in 1992. But after a four-year stint as the superintendent of Lamondi ISD in Iowa, she returned to HISD at the request of former East District Superintendent Thelma Garza. “She called me the day I got back into Houston and said, ‘Can you come and keep Jackson (Middle School) for me?’ because the principal had left right before school started,” Payne explained. “Since then, I’ve been troubleshooting.”

Now, Payne serves as the manager of the technology program at the East Field Office (as well as president of the Austin High School drill team alumnae organization), and says, “I’ll leave here when they push me out on a gurney. I’ll stay as long as I enjoy doing what I’m doing. It’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve seen so many things change, but there are excellent people working here, the kids are wonderful, and I still love it.”

Payne officially marked her 51st anniversary with the district on Sept. 1, but a few other employees are also marking theirs this week (Sept. 1–6). See if you know anyone on this list:

50 years

  • Carolyn Simples, associate teacher

40 years

  • Virginia Croft, teacher, Lovett ES
  • M’Lina Gong, teacher specialist, Sam Houston MSTC
  • Douglas Kelt, teacher, Sam Houston MSTC

35 years

  • Bonnie Branch, teacher, Emerson ES
  • Don Carter, teacher, Rusk ES
  • Charlene Cross, Medicaid manager, Property Management
  • Wonder Gatson, assistant principal, Rucker ES
  • Linda Hughes, teacher, Harper Alternative
  • Kathie Jackson-Guillory, teacher, Fleming MS
  • Sandra Silva, clerk, Martinez ES
  • Minnie White, custodian, Construction & Facility Services

30 years

  • Barbara Ammons, teacher, Austin HS
  • Carnell Calhoun, teacher, Bell ES
  • Tanya Ordonio, teacher, Whittier ES
  • Beverly Smith, specialist, Secondary Curriculum & Instruction

25 years

  • Gilda Bordere, teacher, Gross ES
  • Kimberly Brooks, teacher, Westbury HS
  • MyriamDiaz-Albertini, licensed specialist in school psychology, Child Study
  • Roberto Flores, custodian, Construction & Facility Services
  • Peggy French, secretary, Johnston MS
  • San Juanita Garza, secretary, Milne ES
  • Maria Gonzalez, customer service representative, Benefits
  • Irene Martinez, custodian, Construction & Facility Services

20 years

  • Irene Campos, teaching assistant, Almeda ES
  • Maria Rodriquez, teaching assistant, Berry ES
  • Mary Simpson, teacher, Madison HS
  • Maria Smith, teacher, Fondren MS

15 years

  • Arthur Gafford, teacher, Chávez HS
  • Donna Raines, clerk, Bellaire HS
  • Maria Solis, custodian, Construction & Facility Services
  • Shevante Templeton, stadium attendant, Athletics
  • Elijah Thomas, teacher, Jordan HS
  • Monica Williams, dean of students, Westside HS

10 years

  • Cornell Gray, teacher, Furr HS
  • Andrea LaFleur, teacher, Osborne ES
  • Grace Macklin, teacher, Field ES
  • Rebecca Montes, teacher, Hogg MS
  • Elizabeth Urbina, clerk, Gregg ES
  • Shantelle Williby, teaching assistant, Woodson ES

5 years

  • Nataliya Amata, teaching assistant, Fondren ES
  • Kenneth Blanche, associate teacher
  • John Calhoun, associate teacher
  • Sophia Castillo, teacher, Washington HS
  • DonJuan Corzo, associate teacher
  • Judy Dell ‘Osso, teacher, Travis ES
  • Carolyn Douglass, crossing guard, Harvard ES
  • Annette Duenes, teacher, J. P. Henderson ES
  • Marc Duncan, teacher, HSPVA
  • Maryam Ebtehadj, teacher, Pilgrim Academy
  • Gail Faerman, associate teacher
  • Carol Gonzales, associate teacher
  • Morgan Graham, teacher, Jordan HS
  • Dewayna Harrold, teaching assistant, Scarborough HS
  • Anthony Harvey, teacher, Jones HS
  • John Hendrick, associate teacher
  • Marilia Jackson, teacher, Hines-Caldwell ES
  • Joshua Jones, associate teacher
  • Ana Otero-Baez, teaching assistant, Bellaire HS
  • Victor Sanchez, teaching assistant, Lyons ES
  • Rowland Steptoe, associate teacher
  • Annette Williams, associate teacher
  • Jennifer Wood, teacher, West University ES
Check back next Friday for more September Milestones. Leave a comment below if you’d like to congratulate any of the above employees.
One Response leave one →
  1. Carolyn Kenyon Fields permalink
    September 16, 2014

    Congratulations Sue Ann. We have known each other since our days at Austin and the Brigade. and Franklin Ele. Happy to see you have stayed with education all these years.

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