Pasodale Elementary School teacher Melainie Elliott and Parkland Middle School teacher Raquel Kuker were named YISD’s top 2016-17 Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year at a special “Black & White Gala” that took place Friday, May 20, at the Centennial Banquet & Conference Center at Fort Bliss.
In addition, Drusilla Cardona from Desertaire Elementary School was named the 2016- 17 YISD Support Employee of the Year during the annual gala. A list of all 2016-2017 campus Teachers of the Year and Support Employees of the Year can be found at the district’s main website.
Elliot, a specialized support resource teacher at Pasodale ES, has taught elementary-and middle-school students for seven years in Texas, New Mexico, and Virginia. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in education, she discovered a passion for teaching through her oldest son, who has autism.
“There is no greater reward than the light in a child’s eyes who has found success through the struggle,” Elliot said.
Other finalists for Elementary Teacher of the Year were: Patrice Bedell (Ysleta Pre-K Center), Crystal Green (Parkland Pre-K Center), Marianna Rodriguez (Hacienda Heights ES), and Rosario Rodriguez (Lancaster ES).
Kuker, a science teacher at Parkland MS who holds a bachelor’s degree in education, discovered her love of teaching while pursuing an engineering degree. In college, she began tutoring students in math and absolutely loved it – and was quickly torn between studying engineering or becoming a teacher.
“I concluded I could become one engineer and help make the world we live in a better place, or I could use my passion to inspire hundreds more,” said Kuker, who has worked in education for 10 years. She hopes to influence as many youngsters – particularly minorities and girls – to go to college because that’s what changed her life.
Other finalists for Secondary Teacher of the Year included Rob Dibler (Bel Air HS), Felipe Martinez Jr. (Ysleta HS), Michael McLain (Eastwood HS), and Miriam Trejo (Parkland HS).
Cardona, who began at YISD 15 years ago as a parent liaison, performs a host of duties at Desertaire ES. They include overseeing parent classes and programs, training new parent liaisons, assisting the testing coordinator, and helping out in the front office.
Other Support Employee of the Year finalists were: Yvette Carreon (Indian Ridge MS); Armida Gallegos (Transportation); Arleen Garcia (Riverside HS); Veronica Gomez (Central Office); Jolynn Jacquez (REL Washington ES); Sylvia Lopez (Ysleta Pre-K Center); Guadalupe Morales (Del Valle HS); Manuelita Yanez (Riverside MS); and Alba Uribe (Eastwood Heights ES).