H-E-B to Name Winners in 2012 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards

On Sunday, May 6, H-E-B will announce statewide winners of the 2012 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards during an awards celebration in Houston at the InterContinental Hotel, located at 2222 West Loop South.

Now in its 11th year, the program added a new Early Childhood Award to support public and private schools and not-for-profit learning agencies that focus on kinder readiness and the care of children under five. Five outstanding early childhood facilities are among the 65 educators, school districts, educators and “healthy” campuses that have been named finalists in the 2012 Excellence in Education program.

“H-E-B is committed to supporting K-12 public education, but we also know that the most critical years in a child’s learning development come before the age of five,” said Kate Rogers, H-E-B’s vice president of communications and engagement. “We want to recognize and support early childhood education providers that are doing amazing work to prepare young children for success in kindergarten and beyond.”

During the May 6 celebration, H-E-B will announce 11 grand-prize winners — two principals, six teachers, two school districts and one early childhood education facility. Recipients of the 2011 H-E-B Healthy Campus grants will also be recognized. All were selected by independent panels of judges comprised of experts from around the state.

Teacher winners will receive cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 based on their years of experience, and the winners’ schools will also receive a matching grant.

The outstanding large district will win a cash prize of $100,000, while the winning small district will receive $50,000. The top early childhood facility will receive $25,000 while

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each healthy campus grant recipient will receive $15,000, to be paid over a period of three years.

The awards are a personal initiative of H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, who will be in attendance to personally congratulate each winner and present their cash award.

The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards program was created in 2002 in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators as a positive way to support public education and celebrate the accomplishments of teachers, principals and school districts. Since its inception, the program has given away more than $5.5 million. The total of all cash prizes, gift cards and grants awarded in 2012 will top $800,000, making it the largest monetary awards program in Texas and one of the largest in the nation.

Among the celebration’s highlights will be a keynote address by Mark Kelly, an American astronaut, retired US Navy Captain, best selling-author, prostate cancer survivor, and an experienced naval aviator who flew combat missions during the Gulf War.

Already a celebrated American, Kelly became the center of international attention after the January 2011 assassination attempt on his wife, former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In their best-selling memoir, Gabby, the couple shares their story of hope and resilience with the world. The memoir has topped multiple best-seller lists, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon. Kelly and Giffords have captivated the nation with their story, appearing in an exclusive Diane Sawyer interview, and on Nightline and The Daily Show, among others, and have appeared on the covers of People and USA Today.

Esquire named Kelly one of its 2011 "Americans of the Year,” and profiled him in the magazine. Kelly is currently working on a children’s book titled Mousetronaut: A Partially True Story, which is expected to be released in October 2012.

The 2012 H-E-B Excellence in Education Finalists Are:

Rising Star
The Rising Star Category recognizes teachers with less than 10 years of experience. One winning teacher receives a $5,000 check for themselves and a $5,000 grant for their school.

Lesley-Anne Balido-Dean, Woodridge Elementary,San Antonio
Zoila Cardenas, James E. Mitchell Elementary, Georgetown
Ana Fuentes, Judith Zaffirini Elementary, Laredo
Kristy Mata, Fannin Elementary, Bryan
Christy Zamora, Flour Bluff Early Childhood Center, Corpus Christi
Michael Hardy, IDEA Frontier College Preparatory, Brownsville
Katherine Hewett, Richard King High School, Corpus Christi
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Chad Springer, Legacy Early College High School, Taylor
Joshua Wilkerson, Navasota High School, Navasota
Loryn Windwehen, Bernard Harris Middle School, San Antonio

The Leadership Category honors teachers with 10 to 20 years in the classroom. One winning teacher receives a $10,000 check for themselves and a $10,000 grant for their school.

Rachael Brunson, Great Oaks Elementary, Austin
Jeannette Cavazos-Gonzales, Sullivan Elementary, San Benito
Frances Gonzalez-Garcia, Sam Houston Elementary, Corpus Christi
Irene Kistler, Bulverde Creek Elementary, San Antonio
Laura Thornburg, Lemm Elementary, Spring
Angela Buckingham, John H. Reagan Early College High School, Austin
Naveen Cunha, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, Bryan
Graciela Guzman, Homer Hanna High School, Brownsville
Todd Moulder, Marvin P. Baker Middle School, Corpus Christi
Emily Swoboda, Communications Arts High School, San Antonio

Lifetime Achievement
The Lifetime Achievement Elementary Category salutes teachers with more than 20 years of experience. One winning teacher receives $25,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their school.

Jane Ann Brown, Roth Elementary, Spring
Susan Geffert, Windsor Park Elementary, Corpus Christi
Kathleen Hinders, Thousand Oaks Elementary School, San Antonio
Elaine Leibick, Highland Park Elementary, Austin
Norm Sands, Tabasco Elementary, La Joya
David De Leon, Valley View High School, Hidalgo
Sandra Geisbush, North East ISD STEM Academy, San Antonio
Melanie Mayer, Port Aransas High School, Port Aransas
Sherilen Roberts, Central Middle School, Nederland
Beverly Smith, Lovejoy High School, Allen

School Principal
Two winning principals, one elementary and one secondary will receive $10,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for each of their schools.

Catherine Bartlett, Hamilton Elementary, Cypress
Arnoldo Benavides, Freddy Gonzalez Elementary, Edinburg
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Marisa Eddins, W.C. Andrews Elementary, Portland
Blaine Helwig, J. Walter Graham Elementary, Austin
Cordell Jones, Woodridge Elementary, San Antonio
Jo Ann Beken, W.L. Hauke Academy Alternative School, Conroe
Michael Cardona, Robert E. Lee High School, San Antonio
Ramiro Guerra, Edinburg North High School, Edinburg
Tracie Rodriguez, Collegiate High School, Corpus Christi
Lisa Walls, Armando Chapa Middle School, Kyle

Large School District
The winning large school district chosen in this category receives a $100,000 cash prize.

Corpus Christi Independent School District, Corpus Christi
Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, Houston
Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District, Edinburg
Kerrville Independent School District, Kerrville
Mesquite Independent School District, Mesquite

Small School District
The winning small school district chosen in this category receives a $50,000 cash prize.

Argyle Independent School District, Argyle
La Vega Independent School District, Waco
Lytle Independent School District, Lytle

Early Childhood
The winning early childhood facility chosen in this category receives a $25,000 cash prize.

AVANCE-San Antonio
Brownsville Independent School District, Brownsville
ChildCareGroup Bock Early Child Development Center, Dallas
Lamar Consolidated Independent School District, Richmond
The Rise School of Houston

Healthy Campus
Each campus listed here receives a $15,000 grant to be paid over three years.

Bishop Garriga Middle Preparatory School, Corpus Christi
Converse Elementary, Converse
East Austin College Prep Academy, Austin
H.G. Olsen Elementary, Port Aransas
Harry Shimotsu Elementary, Mission
Missouri City Middle School, Missouri City
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Murchison Elementary, Pflugerville
Nora Forester Elementary, San Antonio
Pasadena Memorial High, Pasadena
Rodriguez Elementary, Seguin
Solomon P. Ortiz Elementary, Brownsville
T.A. Brown Elementary, Austin

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

This year, HEB added the Early Childhood Award to support public and private schools and not-for-profit learning agencies that focus on kinder readiness and the care of children under five. Last year, H-E-B introduced the Healthy Campus grants program to reward schools that go above and beyond to educate children, parents and staff members about the importance of nutrition and fitness.

A team of judges reviewed the applications, narrowing the field to 239 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. Healthy Campus grant recipients were selected by a panel of fitness and nutrition experts from across the state.

Upon being named finalists, teachers receive $1,000 for themselves and $1,000 for their school and principals receive $1,000 for themselves and $2,500 for their school. Finalists in the large district and early childhood categories receive $5,000 and small districts receive $2,500. Semi-finalists receive H-E-B gift cards ranging from $250 to $1,000.

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