Three HISD educators won top honors at the HEB Excellence Awards on May 3, 2013, and brought home a combined total of $75,000 for their schools.
Mike Walker, the principal at Fondren Elementary, received top honors in the elementary principal category. He received a $10,000 prize and a $25,000 grant for his school.
High School for the Visual and Performing Arts Principal R. Scott Allen was also awarded a $10,000 cash prize and a $25,000 grant for his school. “Winning this award speaks volumes to the importance of combining arts with a rigorous education to create well-rounded, successful students,” said Dr. Allen. He plans to use the $25,000 grant to create a yearly scholarship for an at-risk student on his campus.
Dr. Mary “Linda” Velasquez, a bilingual teacher at Burbank Middle School for 32 years, was awarded the HEB lifetime achievement award. Velasquez will take home $25,000 for herself and will receive a $25,000 grant for her school.
“I am so grateful and appreciative of this award,” said Dr. Velasquez. “It is so important that people in the community know what teachers actually do and that the work we do everyday is the most important part of education.”
Dr. Velasquez attributes her win to her overwhelming passion for working with students with limited English skills. “That’s how I started in school and I firmly believe there is no reason to lose one resource while gaining another,” said Dr. Velasquez. “Being bilingual is a great resource and skill, especially in Houston.”
Dr. Velasquez has spearheaded a robust dual language program on the Burbank Middle School campus, which has students taking the Spanish Advanced Placement exam during their eigth grade year. Most other students take the AP exam during their junior or senior year in high school.
On Tuesday, May 7, over 100 Burbank Middle School Students will take the Spanish AP exam. “We had 65 students last year with scores that will earn them college credit and I’m hoping to increase that number this year,” said Dr. Velasquez.