Gerard second-grade teacher Tracy Humphreys and Michael Hoots, physical education teacher and boys athletic coordinator at Wheat Middle School, have been named Cleburne ISD’s Elementary and Secondary Educators of the Year.
The two are among the district’s 2013 campus teachers of the year, chosen by their peers for their efforts in the classroom, cooperative spirit in their work with colleagues and their dedication to students and the teaching profession.
Campus honorees also include Lisa Welling, Adams Elementary School; Elizabeth Ford, Marti Elementary School; Candy Peterson, Cooke Elementary School; Courtney Hanna, Coleman Elementary School; Vidalina Pérez, Santa Fe Elementary School; Charlotte Stone, Irving Elementary School; Abbi McCulloch, Cleburne High School; Sabrina Armstrong, Wheat; Malea Ingram, TEAM School; Jason Payne, Phoenix Campus; and Debbie Smith, Fulton Education Center.
“I chose to be an educator because I wanted a job that would allow me to help people,” Humphreys said. “I was a struggling student that overcame many hurdles. While attending college, I realized I wanted to be an educator. I wanted to have the opportunity to work with children and instill in them a love for learning.”
Hoots credits the influence of his teachers in his decision to become an educator.
“I was blessed with many great role models throughout junior high and high school who were teachers and coaches,” he said. “They were good examples in leadership, professionalism and setting goals — and accomplishing them.”
The recognition of this year’s campus teachers of the year was among the highlights of the district’s employee awards ceremony, which also included the presentation of the paraprofessionals of the year, service awards and the honoring of retiring personnel.
Welling is among those retiring from CISD this year. She has spent her 31-year teaching career as a member of the Adams faculty.
“Being nominated as the Adams teacher of the year is one of my most significant accomplishments,” Welling said. “I feel very blessed to be supported by such a great group of teachers.”
Like many of her fellow honorees, Welling chose teaching because she wanted to make a difference in children’s lives.
“I wanted to help a child to learn something new every day and to grow as an individual and a student,” she said. “I wanted them to grow in self confidence, to go through everyday life feeling they could do anything they put their mind to.”
Ford, who teaches fifth-grade math at Marti, wanted to help struggling students because she had been one herself.
“I am dyslexic, and school was always a struggle for me,” Ford said. “In eighth grade I had a teacher tell me I would never amount to anything — I just wasn’t smart enough. But I knew I was smart and I made up my mind that day I would prove her wrong.
“One of my most significant accomplishments was graduating from college and receiving my teaching certification. A lot of people didn’t think I could do it since school was so difficult for me.
“Getting my degree means so much to me that I proudly display my diploma so everyone that comes to my home will see. I became a teacher so I could help struggling students realize they can learn. I want my students to know that if I can do it, any student can do it.”
Peterson, who works with third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Cooke as a Title I reading and math teacher, inspires her students to learn and inspired her daughter to teach.
“My daughter works with preschoolers at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin,” Peterson said. “She is now going back to school for a second degree to assist her in working with deaf and blind individuals. As a teenager, and young adult, I always volunteered to work with children so I could read books to them or with them. I loved watching them get excited and involved in the books we were reading. I realized then how much I loved being around kids and teaching them to read — that’s when I decided to be a teacher.”
Hanna, who teaches fourth-grade math at Coleman, chose the classroom because of her own teachers.
“I had several teachers growing up that I loved and admired,” she said. “They made such a big impact on me, and I wanted to do the same. I love my job. I hope to be a teacher my students remember when they are adults.”
Pérez is in her first year at Santa Fe and is a second-grade dual language teacher. She was honored in 2001 as a Fort Worth ISD Teacher of the Year.
Stone, who works with special education students at Irving, says teachers are her heroes.
“Great teachers not only teach academics, they are invested in the lives of their students,” she said. “They love their students. They pray for their students. At the end of each day, they go home exhausted and return the next morning excited to start again.
“The time, energy and money they spend on their students are investments that will only be recognized much later in a student’s life — and rarely seen by the teacher. I think it’s very important that we take the time to thank our children’s teachers.”
Armstrong, who is an English as a Second language math teacher at Smith, decided in high school that she wanted to be a coach, giving young women the opportunity to participate in athletics and experience the “real life” lessons that being part of a team aspire.
“Even though my career path went a different direction,” Armstrong said. “The same desire to be a part of mentoring students is the reason I continue in the education field.”
McCulloch has taught two years at CHS as an agriculture science teacher. She believes strongly in the importance of education and agriculture in her work with today’s learners who are tomorrow’s leaders.
“I believe that education is the only way to protect our future,” she said. “I believe in teaching students how to overcome challenges and struggles, so they can succeed beyond the classroom.
“I am also passionate about agriculture and believe that it is a matter of national security to continue to produce our food supply.”
Ingram, who has worked with Cleburne fifth-graders and middle school students, just completed her first year as the English teacher at TEAM School.
“I count the relationships I’ve cultivated with my students through the years as my most significant accomplishment,” said Ingram, a 26-year teaching veteran. “Nothing makes me happier than to help equip students to rise to meet challenges, to overcome adversity and to reach goals we’ve set together.
“It always puts a smile on my face to see them come back and share their successes with me. I have been very blessed to have this opportunity to teach at TEAM School.”
“I chose to become an educator because I care about how the future of our society is represented,” said Payne, who is the Phoenix English teacher and a member of the CHS coaching staff. “Everyone has a place in this world — mine is to challenge young minds to their utmost potential.”
Smith, who serves students with visual impairments, has been an educator for more than 30 years.
“As a teaching professional, I am extremely dedicated to the excellence of all children,” she said. “Cleburne ISD affords me the opportunity to continue this dedication.”