On August 1, the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce and its Business-Education Partnership Committee hosted the Local Teachers of the Year Recognition Rally at the McKenna Events Center. Teachers of the Year from public and private schools in the New Braunfels area were recognized for their leadership and service to children in the community.
The 2022 teachers of the year were recognized by Comal ISD, New Braunfels ISD, Marion ISD, Navarro ISD and Seguin ISD. Additionally, teachers and educators from New Braunfels Christian Academy, Premier High School of New Braunfels, communities in South Central Texas Schools, St. John Paul II Catholic High School, and the Peter & Paul Catholic School received awards.
The event’s keynote speaker, ISD New Braunfels Superintendent Cade Smith, challenged educators in the room to support and encourage teachers to stay in the industry, keep up with the next legislative session and continue to love and inspire the children they teach.
“You [teachers] are at the top of your profession; you are the best at a time when we need you the most,” Smith said. “And I go back and think back to when we had to close schools. We asked you to come on board and nurture the children all through the spring, and you were America’s heroes in those days because parents immediately understood what you have to do every day, all through of the day.
Smith also spoke about teacher shortages and other challenges facing public and private schools in Texas.
“So we’re in the process of trying to hire more people to serve the 5.3 million students across the state of Texas,” Smith said. “And I look today, very briefly, at the Texas Association of School Administrator website and there are 2,139 jobs open right now in public education. We are starting school in the next few weeks.
Jennifer Fey was honored as Secondary Teacher of the Year for Comal ISD. Fey is a ninth and tenth grade English teacher at Hill Country Preparatory High School and said all teachers deserve recognition after the hardships they have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I felt like whoever was teaching this year was the teacher of the year because it was a really, really tough year,” Fey said. “And for me, it’s offered me a little bit of a stronger voice so I can talk with my board members and administration about the things that I hear and see to help my fellow teachers.”
Danielle Tapp received the Elementary Teacher of the Year award at Comal ISD and teaches kindergarten students at Johnson Ranch Elementary School. Her class motto is “we can do the hard things” and by the end of the year, the students are saying the motto with more conviction that it hopes to have a lasting impact on them.
“I taught 36 online kindergartens [during the 2020-2021 school year], so it was very difficult,” Tapp said. “But once I finally got my kids back to class, the social impact that COVID had on them was astronomical, in my opinion.”
Fey and Tapp said students’ social and emotional recovery from the pandemic will be a community effort and asked people to get involved in their local school districts and show their gratitude to teachers.
At New Braunfels ISD, Marcella McDonald received the Elementary Teacher of the Year award and Denise Ortiz was named Secondary Teacher of the Year. Communities in South Central Texas Schools has named Stephanie Armendariz as the CIS Pacesetter of the Year.
At New Braunfels Christian Academy, Jane Stewart received the Elementary Teacher of the Year award and Kayla Sisneros was named Middle School Teacher of the Year. Amy Hardy has been recognized as the Private School High School Teacher of the Year.
At Marion ISD, Elementary Teacher of the Year was awarded to Jennifer Bradley and Karissa Kabanek from the district’s Krueger Campus. Christine Byden was recognized as Middle School Teacher of the Year and Katherine Champion as High School Teacher of the Year.
At Navarro ISD, Elementary Teacher of the Year was awarded to Katie Todd and Ashley Elder was named Intermediate Teacher of the Year. Ella Chase was recognized as Junior High School Teacher of the Year and Katharine Champion as High School Teacher of the Year.
New Braunfels Premier High Schools honored Sharon Jones as Teacher of the Year. St. John Paul II Catholic High School named Sandee Phelan as Teacher of the Year. St. Peter & Paul Catholic School recognized Tammy Schaefer as Teacher of the Year and Karen Arnold as Outstanding Educator of the Year.
Seguin ISD recognized Amy Styles as its Elementary Teacher of the Year and Aubrie Wells as its Secondary Teacher of the Year.