Gem of the Day 3/9: Three Local Teachers Win HEB Excellence in Education Award

Bryan-Area Educators named Finalists for 2012
H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards

Educators to Compete on a Statewide Level for $500,000 in cash prizes

Three Bryan-area educators have been named finalists for a 2012 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award, spotlighting them as some of the best educators in Texas.

H-E-B’s Excellence in Education is the largest monetary awards program for educators in Texas, and among the largest in the nation.

The honor was kept a surprise from the educators, who learned they were finalists when H-E-B representatives visited their classrooms and schools bearing balloons, cake, and flowers.

Three teachers were presented with a $1,000 check for themselves and a $1,000 check for their schools.

The teacher finalists are:

- Kristy Mata, Fannin Elementary in Bryan, Bryan Independent School District

- Naveen Cunha, Stephen F. Austin Middle School in Bryan, Bryan Independent School District

- Joshua Wilkerson, Navasota High School in Navasota, Navasota Independent School District

All the finalists are now invited to represent the Houston region in a statewide competition for larger cash prizes. They will be competing against other Texas educators in their respective categories.

About the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards:
H-E-B launched the Excellence in Education Awards program in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators in 2002 as a positive way to support public education in Texas.

It has become the largest monetary program for educators in the state, spotlighting best practices and celebrating the passion and creativity of Texas educators.

This year, HEB has added a new category called the Early Childhood Award to support public or private schools or not-for-profit learning agencies that focus on the care of children under age of 5.

In order to find the best teachers, principals and districts in Texas, H-E-B asked customers, Partners (employees) and community members to submit the names of their favorite educators, administrators and districts. Each nominee was sent an invitation to complete and application online. They were asked to their professional experiences, educational philosophies and achievements both in and out of the classroom.

A team of judges reviewed the applications, narrowing the field to 252 semi-finalists. From that pool, five regional judging panels comprised of former winners, administrators, and university and community leaders selected 40 teacher and principal finalists. Two separate panels selected the district and Early Childhood finalists, and conducted site visits to determine the winners.

Finalists will be invited to Houston on May 4-6, 2012 to compete on a statewide level for larger cash prizes totaling more than $500,000. A panel of judges will interview each teacher and principal finalist.

The eight winners — two principals and six teachers — will be announced along with the two school districts, one large and one small, and an Early Childhood Facility, at a celebratory dinner on May 6.

Each winning principal—one elementary school and one high school—will each receive $10,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their schools. The winning large school district will receive a $100,000 cash prize and the winning small school district will receive $50,000. The winning Early Childhood Facility will receive $25,000.

The six winning teachers will include one elementary and one secondary teacher in each of three categories:

The Rising Star Award — honors exceptionally promising teachers with less than 10 years of experience. These winners will each receive a $5,000 check for themselves and a $5,000 grant for their schools.

The Leadership Award — honors teachers with 10 to 20 years in the classroom. These winners will each receive a $10,000 check for themselves and a $10,000 grant for their schools.

The Lifetime Achievement Award — salutes teachers with more than 20 years of experience. These teachers will each receive $25,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their schools.

About H-E-B
H-E-B, with sales of more than $18 billion, operates more than 335 stores in Texas and Mexico. Known for its innovation and community service, H-E-B celebrated its 105 anniversary in 2010. Recognized for its fresh food, quality products, convenient services, and a commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, H-E-B strives to provide the best customer experience at everyday low prices. Based in San Antonio, H-E-B employs more than 76,000 Partners and serves millions of customers in more than 150 communities. For more information, visit

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