Educators of the Year recognized in virtual event

As heavy storms—the kind typical of Houston summers, dark clouds heavy with rain—moved through the area on Tuesday night, spirits in teachers’ homes across the area could not be dampened.

And as the skies cleared, a rainbow appeared over Rosa Oviedo’s house, just in time for her to be surprised as the Elementary Teacher of the Year.

“It feels really good as an educator,” Oviedo said. “We don’t do this job to be recognized, but for HISD to put this together for us despite the pandemic is truly appreciated.”

A teacher for 14 years, Oviedo has been at Neff for the past three. Currently a first-grade teacher, she has taught in English classrooms, bilingual classrooms, and full inclusion classrooms. Oviedo was surprised at her own home with a cash prize and other gifts to honor her hard work. It was all a part of the virtual Educator of the Year celebration.

It was a similar scene across town at Aric Barnes’ home, where he was recognized as the Secondary Teacher of the Year. One of six finalists, Barnes teaches algebra at Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center High School. This year, he’s serving as math department chair, as well as a ninth-grade team lead and mentor for two first-year teachers.

Earlier in the day, all nominees and finalists from this year and last school year were invited to an in-person, outdoor celebration and “swag bag pickup” at Delmar Field. Included in the swag bags were a ring light for cell phones, gift cards, sports jerseys, a yard sign, and other items.

Although the recognition and the prizes is a nice perk, for Barnes, getting to support students and make a difference is his driving force.

“”I think of school as a microcosm of society,” Barnes said. “If that is true for my school, then I am happy to know that the future of society is one that is diverse, kind, and resilient.”

Along with the Teachers of the Year, winners were recognized in the following categories.

Beginning Teachers of the Year:

  • Sarah Arvidsson, Seguin Elementary School
  • Patricia Biles, Revere Middle School
  • Christen Smajstria, Heights High School

Principals of the Year:

  • Lola Perejón-Lasheras, Helms Dual Language Elementary School
  • Gretchen Kasper-Hoffman, Tanglewood Middle School

Librarian of the Year:

  • Brooke Corso, Pin Oak Middle School

Fan Favorite Teachers:

  • Andrea Eisenstein Winard, Revere Middle School
  • Meghan E. Grout, Burbank Middle School
  • Stephanie Calderon, River Oaks Elementary School
  • Briana J. McCorkle, Hobby Elementary School
  • Minnie Lorraine Guerra, Cunningham Middle School
  • Elsa Flores, DeZavala Elementary School
  • Gisela Luviano-Perez, Elmore Elementary School
  • Julea Brode, Carnegie High School
  • Chinasa J. Nnamani, Law Elementary School

Ann Sledge Award Honorees:

  • Morgan Dewitt, Jane Long Academy
  • Satyra Gilford Smith, Bruce Elementary School