Meet the Finalists for Teacher of the Year and Beginning Teacher of the Year  

Winners to be announced at May 20 banquet 

Nearly 2,000 HISD teachers, along with district and school leaders, will gather on Friday, May 20, at the Bayou City Event Center for a superheroes-themed Educators of the Year banquet. The sold-out event, sponsored by Cigna, will honor campus-based teachers of the year and beginning teachers of the year. Fifteen finalists are vying for top district honors, which include elementary teacher of the year, secondary teacher of the year, and beginning teacher of the year.

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In honor of the superheroes theme, we interviewed the finalists and asked them to share their superhero power in the classroom and their teacher hero.

Elementary Teacher of the Year Finalists 

Adrienne M. Glover, Anderson Elementary School


Classroom superpower: Perseverance

“I try to instill in my students that no matter how hard something becomes, or how hard it may seem, never, never give up.”

Maria Teresa Godoy, Port Houston Elementary School

Fifth-grade reading and science

Classroom superpower: Building relationships with students

“If you show your kids that you care, they will work for you and give you all that they have just to please you.”

Melissa A. Martinez, Sherman Elementary School

First grade

Classroom superpower: Sharing love

“I make sure each of my students knows that I love them, care about them, and that there is a purpose for them in my classroom.”

Tracy W. Singleton, Fondren Elementary School

Third-grade reading

Classroom superpower: Connecting with students

“I relate to my students and let them know I have been where they are. I use my own life experiences to motivate them.”

Hillary Smith, DeAnda Elementary School

Fifth-grade reading

Classroom superpower: Keeping it simple

“All the great teachers I know focus on three simple things: their students, loving what they teach, and making a difference.”

Ciara Sutton-Rivers, Codwell Elementary School

Fifth-grade math

Classroom superpower: Fire-starter

“I have the ability to motivate kids and light that inner fire within to help them realize that they can do anything.”

Secondary Teacher of the Year Finalists

Christina Carter-Woods, Pershing Middle School

Seventh-grade reading

Classroom superpower: Showing love

“This year I made it a point to love on all my students—that includes loving their strengths, their weaknesses, and their parents.”

Jennifer Lankau Chase, HSPVA

World geography and world history

Classroom superpower: Higher-order thinking

“I push my students toward high-order thinking by challenging them with tough questions every day—why, how, how come, because why?”

Morgan Dewitt, Long Academy

Tenth-grade English

Classroom superpower: Empowering students

“Through encouragement students can reach their full potential, so it is imperative that teachers support all their students each and every day.”

Valarie G. Moore, Gregory Lincoln Education Center

Eighth-grade English and reading

Classroom superpower: Love, kindness, and gratitude

“Love what you do every day, be kind to everyone you meet, and give thanks to every student for the effort they put in.”

Donald Parker, North Houston Early College High School

Ninth-grade biology

Superhero power in the classroom: Caring heart

“With a caring heart you can reach each and every student in your classroom, no matter what level they are at or challenges they face.”

Keavon Runnels, Austin High School


Classroom superpower: Motivating through music

“I can play over 30 different instruments and write and compose music. But more importantly, I use music to motivate my students.”

Beginning Teacher of the Year Finalists

Morgan Greco, Herod Elementary School

Special Education

Superhero power: Power Catalyst
“I guide my students in finding their very own super powers, even when those around them may not see it. Once they find their strength it what makes them unique, I encourage them to be confident in what they bring to the table and let it shine proudly.”

Elisa Infante, Lamar High School

CTE Agriculture

Superhero power:  Relationship Builder

“I get to know my students on a personal level and build relationships with them. This makes them more engaged in class and boosts their confidence.”

Kapreece Smith, Dowling Middle School

Eight-grade English

Superhero power: Super Hearing

“My students don’t use inappropriate language because they know I will catch them. They have built-up their vocabulary using new words to express anger or frustration.”