Bryan ISD Honors District Employees of the Year

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BRYAN – The Bryan Independent School District honored seven of its hardest working employees, naming them Employees of the Year for the 2013-2014 school year.

The Employees of the Year were awarded at a banquet on June 6.

Administrator of the Year
Christina Richardson
Bryan Collegiate High School

If anyone could successfully launch a new concept in education like a collegiate high school, Christina Richardson is that person. Tenacious, resourceful, a diehard advocate for students and a positive personality are among the countless attributes that have led to her success and helped place Bryan Collegiate High School among the Very Best Schools in the Country!

But don’t ask us…ask U.S. News & World Report. Twice.

One of her students told about a long search she’d had, as a young woman, to find a role model who could show her what it was like to be an educated woman. Like many other first-generation college students at Collegiate, the young student grew up with a single mom, paycheck-to-paycheck, wondering if she’d ever be able to earn a degree. Christina invested in this student—as she does all the students at Bryan Collegiate—and the young woman graduated with 56 tuition-free hours of Blinn College Credit, and she will graduate this year with a degree in English Language and Literature from Texas A&M! “She should be principal for a lifetime,” the young woman said.

Her staff members say she is a skilled professional mentor, particularly adept at growing new teachers into stellar educators. “Do what’s best for kids,” is what she tells them most, because that’s what she does.

Her colleagues at Blinn College and Texas A&M say she has mastered the ability to partner with educational entities and has become a highly respected leader in the community of collegiate high school everywhere.

She is known for producing competitive, well-prepared, academically sound students who are also community oriented servant leaders.

It is our great privilege to congratulate you, Christina Richardson, our Administrator of the Year!

Rookie Teacher of the Year
Brittany Cain
Rayburn Middle School

Bryan ISD’s first-ever Rookie Teacher of the Year’s classroom is the kind of place that kids want to be. It’s a place where children want to learn.

As a brand new teacher, she knows what teachers with decades of experience know about how important the classroom environment is for learning—the walls of her classroom scream out that social studies is awesome!

Brittany Cain seems to know instinctively how to design lessons for her children, how to build relationships, how to follow a social contract…and in all she does…it is obvious she was born to teach.

One administrator said, “Seeing the impact she has on her students each and every day, I just cannot imagine her in any other profession.”

Many personality traits are required for teaching—some are learned; many are naturally present within the most gifted educators. Ms. Cain has those natural gifts, those intangible traits, like when she was asked to write a statement about an altercation in the school.

Struggling to know how to start, she was advised to erase the students faces from her mind while she wrote the statement. Her response was… “I can’t erase their faces from my mind…those faces are already imprinted on my heart.”

Ladies and gentlemen, join me in congratulating the first-ever Bryan ISD Rookie of the Year, Ms. Brittany Cain of Rayburn Middle School.

Elementary Teacher of the Year
Katherine Salazar
Navarro Elementary

Few of us can remember the exact moment we discovered exactly what we wanted to do. Katherine Salazar remembers it…it was her first day in sixth grade, and she sat in her English class wondering what middle school would be like. In the room she saw a sticker that said, “I make a difference. I teach.”

That’s when she knew. She knew she wanted to make a difference in the lives of students, and she does. As a fifth grade mathematics teacher at Navarro, she is known by other educators as a skilled teacher who deploys her personality, demeanor and voice to show how much she cares for her students, while maintaining a high caliber learning environment and offering students her broad experience in teaching mathematics.

No one needs to look far for help organizing Black History Month programs, Cinco de Mayo events, field trips to Santa’s Wonderlands and many other positive educational experiences for our students—she “gets” that post-secondary success starts the minute a student walks on a campus.

Some have said she has the least-used desk in the district, for instead she gets into the learning environment with her students and makes lessons fun and engaging at all levels. Her smile makes others want to smile.

She lives her life for children…days, nights and weekends.

One of her students wrote, “She makes everything seem like a game in her class. And this may not be important, but she always looks ‘fancy.’ She is one of the nicest people that I know, and by-far the BEST TEACHER I know. If you choose Ms. Salazar for Teacher of the Year, I will be very pleased.”

Well, Lucinda, 5th grade student at Navarro, we hope you’re pleased this morning—we are, too. Please congratulate the Elementary Teacher of the Year, Navarro Elementary’s Katherine Salazar.

Secondary Teacher of the Year
Daniel (Wayne) Campbell
Jane Long Middle School

Our description of this year’s Secondary Teacher of the Year, Mr. Wayne Campbell, could be summarized in just a few words—“His students trust him. They give him their minds, because he already holds their hearts.”

And while that would be accurate, it’s not quite enough. He not only teaches biology and coaches multiple sports, he’s also been called a magician. His lessons are described as magic shows that ignite the imaginations of his students…students who, by the way, try their best to stump him with challenging experiments and scientific questions. Mr. Campbell’s students design their own experiments, even testing McDonald’s food for nutritional content, they score 100% on the Biology EOC, year in, year out.

Two parents, whose sons both had Mr. Campbell for science and biology, wrote that their boys…believe it or not…each came home raving about how exciting it was to take notes in his class?! They said their sons interest in the class spoke volumes about Mr. Campbell’s passion for teaching.

They also told about a time when a student athlete was injured at a football game—a broken arm. The young man had no family at the game, and the instant the injury happened, there was Mr. Campbell, on the scene, never leaving the student’s side.

He rode to the hospital in the ambulance, bringing comfort to a scared and injured kid, and that says so much for him beyond his classroom excellence.

One colleague called him a candle that ignites a passion to learn in students, and someone who doesn’t enjoy the spotlight. He would rather share it with others.

Well, Mr. Campbell…enjoy the spotlight or not…you certainly deserve it. Join me in celebrating our Secondary Teacher of the Year, Jane Long’s Wayne Campbell.

Auxiliary Employee of the Year
Christopher J. Goins
Head Custodian
Bonham Elementary

Many names describe our Auxiliary Employee of the Year: Reverend, Counselor, Mentor, Community Pillar, Father, Husband…and “Mr. Chris.”

He is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Bryan, a certified counselor who specializes in the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, a husband of 21-years and a father of six. He is also the head custodian at Bonham Elementary, where he has been known to lead voluntary prayer meetings in the library.

Mr. Chris is always there to help the school clean up or fix the worst-of-the-worst. He puts safety at the front of all he does, and perhaps most importantly, he makes sure he is always a role model for the young male students at Bonham. He greets students and staff warmly every day, as a true ambassador of Bryan ISD.

One administrator wrote that his last name, G-O-I-N-S stands for Giving, Open-minded, the “I” in CommItted, Neat, and the “S” is for “Smiles warmly.”

He has been described as “The One who Takes care of our WHOLE school... always there to make sure the school is spotless and our hearts and spirits are uplifted.”

Congratulations Mr. Chris Goins, our Auxiliary Employee of the Year!

Paraprofessional of the Year
Karen Morgan
Principal’s Secretary
Houston Elementary

“A champion for children with a beautiful smile who’s willing to tackle a monumental number of tasks…” that’s how colleagues describe our Paraprofessional of the Year.

She is known as a scheduling genius, a flexible and an approachable professional with a kind spirit—it’s just her nature.

She is a friend to many, a loving mother, and a dedicated wife. And despite being a person who must wear so many hats, the one she wears most often is a “halo,” always giving more to make the school and community a better place.

Her three children have attended Bryan schools, and she is a proud supporter of our district—both as a mom, and as a dedicated employee.

One colleague said, “If you have not met Karen Morgan, then you have not met the sunshine.” Few people can diffuse tough situations as well as Karen, and she often does so while juggling more than a handful of concerns.

No one has heard her say “that’s not my job.” Instead, she does what needs to be done, and those who work with her daily say how thankful they are that they get to spend their days on this planet with a person like Karen Morgan.

One parent said…, “Karen is the face of the front office…and the heart of Sam Houston Elementary.” One student said…, “Every afternoon she would give me hugs. She may not be a family member, but she is my friend.”

Congratulations to Ms. Karen Morgan, our Paraprofessional of the Year!

Professional Specialist of the Year
Justin Estes
Academic Advisor
Bryan High School

Justin Estes embodies the “Children First, Always” mentality of Bryan ISD. He works tirelessly to understand where our students come from and to build meaningful relationships with them.

A parent told recently about how, when their son was battling ailments related to cancer, Justin stayed by the young man every step of the way—making sure accommodations were made, assignments were brought to the house, and that he was a constant and positive presence for the young man, in the comfort of his home.

Once the student had the credits to graduate, Justin made the arrangements for a graduation ceremony at the family home, just six days before the young man passed away. Justin was there to make sure the young man had the diploma in hand, that he had so richly earned.

He is described as a “fixer of schedules,” a “confidant for students who need someone to trust,” and someone who believes “if it’s right for kids…I’m all over it.”

He connects with today’s kids no matter what it takes—sometimes wearing plaid shirts, silver duct tape pants, tie-dye clothes, Converse tennis shoes, you name it.

He’s been known to drive a kid to college—four hours away—to start a semester; and he’ll also drive them home for visits with family.

Perhaps a student said it best… “He is everything a student could ask for in a counselor, and we are blessed to have him.”

Ladies and gentlemen, join me in celebrating our Professional Specialist of the Year, Mr. Justin Estes.