The skies may have been overcast and dreary over Golfcrest Elementary School, but the mood inside the school’s cafeteria was decidedly brighter.
Students waited with colorful signs, balloons framed the stage, and decorations filled the tables as fifth-grade science teacher Ruth Giles entered the room.
“What’s going on? I’m in shock,” Giles said as she passed through the lines of cafeteria tables, headed toward Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan on the other side of the room. Giles, who has been with Golfcrest Elementary for three years, was named the Sterling McCall Teacher of the Month for February, and this socially distanced party was in honor of her.
“Ms. Giles is an outstanding example of what we want in our Teacher of the Month,” Lathan said. “She is not only an outstanding teacher, but she supports her peers and she provides interventions to our students.”
Giles has made significant improvements to that school’s science test scores. In 2020, Golfcrest was the lowest performing school in Fifth Grade Science in HISD’s South Area. Just a year later, the school is one of the highest performing schools in that category.
Her work goes beyond the classroom as well. She serves as Golfcrest’s Interventions Assistance Team liaison, which allows her to identify students that need specific educational needs. She works with teachers, parents, and other district services to provide individualized services to these students.
“She has been able to take on leadership roles outside of the classroom. She even has time to go into other classrooms and coach other teachers about best practices,” Golfcrest Principal Miguel Lopez Blanco said. “I’m just really grateful to have her here at Golfcrest.”
Giles says the road to her becoming a teacher was never “planned or easy,” and as a first-generation college student she knows what it is like to face obstacles in education.
“Teaching to me is going into work every single day and working with my children. It’s trying to show them that they can earn more than what they’ve been shown,” Giles said. “They can grow, they can develop, they can aspire to become other things.”
As part of the Teacher of the Month program, HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan and district leaders surprise a deserving teacher. Each month, the selected teacher receives a gift basket and a luxury loaner vehicle from Sterling McCall.
Each of the seven HISD Area Superintendents are responsible for selecting a teacher from their region to be honored from November 2020 to May 2021. Principals who would like to nominate a teacher on their campus should contact their school support officer or area superintendent directly.