Lancaster Elementary School teacher Diana Beltran and Del Valle High School teacher Ramon Benavides were named Ysleta ISD’s top 2021-2022 Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year, respectively, at a special event Friday, May 21, at the Hotel Paso Del Norte in downtown El Paso.
In addition, George Armenta from the Technology Information Systems (TIS) Department at YISD’s Central Office was named the 2021-2022 Support Employee of the Year.
Beltran, a dual-language kindergarten teacher at Lancaster Elementary School, followed the career path set by her kindergarten teacher, who made school a fun place to be while instilling a passion for learning that continues to this day. It made Beltran want to do the same for future students, particularly in kindergarten because it is a child’s first exposure to school.
“I know academic teaching is the ‘job,’ but I hope the students who enter my classroom know they are loved and supported regardless of their academic achievements,” said Beltran, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin and a master’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). She has worked at Ysleta ISD and Lancaster ES for 10 years.
Other finalists for Elementary Teacher of the Year were Korina Arras (Ascarate ES), Cynthia Castro (Mesa Vista ES), Laura Guerrero (Del Valle ES), and Joanna Ortega (Sageland ES).
At Del Valle High School, Benavides doesn’t just teach science – it is his passion! “My students don’t walk away with random science facts. They walk away with a firm understanding that science is a fantastic framework of knowledge and possibilities, and they grow because of this,” said Benavides, who has worked for 11 years as a teacher at YISD and El Paso Community College.
The son of migrant farmworkers who dropped out of school at a young age, Benavides pursued a career in education after seeing his parents not only return to school, but eventually become teachers. He holds bachelor’s degrees from both UT San Antonio and UT Brownsville, a master’s degree from UTEP, and is earning a doctorate in educational leadership from Texas Tech University.
Other Secondary Teacher of the Year finalists were Sergio Estrada (Riverside HS), Marissa Hernandez (Parkland Pre-Engineering MS), Rachel Mullins (Eastwood MS), and Erica Villanueva (Eastwood HS).
Armenta, a secretary in the TIS Department secretary, has worked at Ysleta ISD for 17 years, spending several years in the Bilingual Education Department and campus level before taking on his current duties at Central Office. He has assisted in a variety of districtwide initiatives, including employee COVID-19 testing and student registration.
“I believe actions speak louder than words,” said Armenta, whose sons are enrolled at Ysleta ISD. “I show up for my team and let them know they can rely on me for any and all of their needs.”
Other Support Employee of the Year finalists were Liliana Arrieta (Riverside HS), Mary Helen Carreon (Special Education), Cecilia Loweree (Hanks HS), and Paul Aaron Zermeño (Parkland Pre- Engineering MS).
Beltran and Benavides will now go on to compete in the Teacher of the Year competition for Region 19 this summer.