Loma Terrace Elementary School teacher Carol Love and Riverside High School teacher Stephen Solis were named YISD’s top 2018-2019 Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year, respectively, at a special gala Friday, May 4, at the Centennial Banquet & Conference Center at Fort Bliss.
In addition, Sundra Strickland from Dolphin Terrace Elementary School was named the 2018-2019 Support Employee of the Year.
Love, a second-grade teacher at Loma Terrace Elementary School, holds a bachelor’s degree from McMurry College (now McMurry University), and has spent her entire 41-year career in education as a teacher at Loma Terrace Elementary School.
Love said it was her fourth-grade teacher and high-school band director who moved her to pursue a career in education. “It was evident that both of these teachers loved their profession,” she said. Over the years, Love has maintained high expectations for her young students, whom she loves and values. “I want them to shine like little stars!” she added.
Solis, who holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, is a theater arts and computer science teacher and coach at Riverside High School. As a child growing up in Corpus Christi, Solis remembers how his father took night classes and went from working as a middle-school janitor to a P.E. teacher and coach.
“He never let anything stop him from pursuing his dream,” Solis said. “I was inspired to make him proud and lead a life where I could make a difference in the lives of others, just like he did.”
Other finalists for Secondary Teacher of the Year were Alberto Avalos (Ysleta HS), Michele Garcia (J.M. Hanks HS), Selena Granados (Eastwood HS), and Jessica Yildirim (Young Women’s Leadership Academy).
Strickland, who began working 32 years ago at YISD, is currently a P.E. paraprofessional aide at Dolphin Terrace Elementary School. This position was one of the few that afforded Strickland the opportunity to know every student and build relationships with them and their families. Outside of her job duties, she says it is important for her to make herself available for school events, professional development, district initiatives, and parent conferences, even though she is not required to do so.
Other Support Employee of the Year finalists were: Guadalupe Armendariz (Cedar Grove ES); Cindy Esparza (North Star ES); Joann Leyva (Plato Academy); and Ruby Rivera (Vista Hills ES).
Other finalists for Elementary Teacher of the Year were: Roberto Guevara III (Glen Cove ES), Lonny Nava (Ascarate ES), Kristin Podojil (Pebble Hills ES), and Paul Ward (Pasodale ES).
Love and Solis will now go on to compete in the Teacher of the Year competition for Region 19. A list of all 2018-19 YISD campus Teachers of the Year and Support Employees of the Year can be found on the district’s main website.