HISD celebrates highly effective teachers with breakfast, district recognition

A group of 27 highly effective teachers from campuses across HISD gathered at district headquarters Wednesday morning for a celebratory breakfast, a photo shoot, and tributes from district leadership.

“We know that nothing is more important than providing our students with great teachers,” said Dr. Rodney Watson, chief human resources officer. “And I can also tell you that teaching is the most difficult job I’ve ever had. I wish we could have brought all of our district’s top teachers together today, because they all deserve to be recognized for their tremendous work.”

HISD Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones agreed. “I have such deep respect for the hard work our teachers do every day. The hard and heavy lifting in our district truly takes place in the classrooms.”

More than 1,600 teachers districtwide received a “highly effective” rating last year – the highest score in the district’s Teacher Appraisal and Development System (TADS). Over the course of the month, all highly effective teachers in HISD will receive a congratulatory letter and certificate from both Superintendent Terry Grier and Watson.

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Rosalyn Panza, a teacher at Bonner Elementary, attended the event with her principal, Sharon Carpenter, who raved about Panza’s energy, enthusiasm, and ability to connect with her students.

“Teaching is a 24-hour job. You don’t work for recognition, but it’s still so appreciated,” said Panza. “I’ve been in HISD for 13 years, and over that time I’ve grown tremendously. My kids are always teaching me how to be a stronger teacher.”

Following the breakfast, teachers attended the monthly Principals’ Meeting, where Skillern-Jones, Watson, and Dr. Andrew Houlihan, chief school support officer, presented them with certificates and “Team HISD” caps. Principals and community members were encouraged to keep the momentum going by continuing to celebrate the hard work of top teachers across the district.

“Whatever gets celebrated gets repeated,” said Alan Hooker, HISD’s leadership development officer. “It’s so important to take the time to congratulate teachers for building an atmosphere in which students thrive.”

Over the past several years, HISD has prioritized effective teaching throughout the district, and has proved successful at attracting and keeping its best and brightest. During the past three years, HISD retained more than 90 percent of its most effective teachers – which has produced immediate benefits for students across the district.

“I feel good about the work I’m doing in the classroom, and to see it affirmed by the district like this was such a surprise,” said Lafonda Fields, a teacher at North Forest High School. “It feels really special.”

“It’s hard to leave the classroom, even for a morning,” said Marie Krueger-Miller, a teacher at Walnut Bend Elementary School, “but it’s just terrific to be able to eat breakfast with adults.”