The 2019-2020 Houston Independent School District educators of the year were announced during surprise home visits, including visits by Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan at the homes of the elementary and secondary teachers of the year and beginning teachers of the year.
The visits took place on Wednesday, May 6, and Thursday, May 7, during Teacher Appreciation Week and included yard signs, balloons, and gift baskets near the front doors of the educators who were asked to come outside for the announcements, in keeping with safe social distancing practices.
- Rebecca Hiatt, a seventh-grade science teacher at Baylor College of Medicine Biotech Academy at Rusk, is HISD’s 2019-2020 Secondary Teacher of the Year.
- Rebecca Busse, a special education teacher at Bush Elementary School, is the district’s Elementary Teacher of the Year.
“The commitment, ingenuity and proficiency of these educators have been evident all year and once the district moved to closed-but-instructing status, these teachers never wavered,” Lathan said. “If anything, they took their performance to the next level.”
The surprise visits took place in lieu of HISD’s annual Educators of the Year banquet, which was canceled this year due to COVID-19.
“The board of trustees is truly grateful for your dedication to our HISD children,” HISD Board President Sue Deigaard said. “You have each shown exemplary service to ensure your students achieve their greatest potential. We are especially appreciative during this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis as you have risen to the difficult task of finding innovative ways to connect with and teach your students.”
Hiatt and Busse received gift baskets courtesy of Raising Cane’s and Kroger, $2,500 appreciation awards, and a fully loaded 2020 Acura RDX SUV on loan to them for the summer, courtesy of Sterling McCall Acura, which is part of the Group 1 Automotive family.
Lathan and HISD’s Interim Chief Academic Officer Yolanda Rodriguez also made surprise announcements at the homes of the 2019-2020 Beginning Teachers of the Year: Ronni Molare of Cook Elementary School, Tavaria Miller of Baylor College of Medicine Biotech Academy at Rusk, and Jennifer Simmons of Wisdom High School, who entered the teaching profession after a 20-year career in the corporate sector.
Celeste Cooper of Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School was surprised at home with the news that she is HISD’s 2019-2020 Librarian of the Year.
The Ann Sledge Instructional Specialist Awards went to Chloe Dixon Batiste, the districtwide instructional coach of the year, and to Naomi Cruz of De Anda Elementary School, the campus instructional coach of the year.
The Emily Scott Evans Award went to Kristen Fjeldal of Condit Elementary School and Latasha Curtis of Montgomery Elementary School. This award honors third-grade teachers who encourage students to get excited about learning and cultivate respectful relationships with peers and adults. These teachers always inspire students to be the best that they can be.
In February, the district announced HISD’s principals of the year for elementary and secondary schools. They are Zandra Aguilar of Eliot Elementary School and Carlos Phillips of Washington High School.
For a complete list of campus nominees for Educator of the Year, click here.