Donna Burrell, Shannon Decena Named Aldine’s top educators
Donna Burrell was named Aldine ISD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year and Shannon Decena was named the district’s Secondary Teacher of the Year during Aldine ISD’s Educator of the Year Breakfast, held Friday, March 8 at the Hilton North Houston Hotel. The four Teacher of the Year finalists were Krystle Harvey of Dunn Elementary School, Kari Dierks of Smith Elementary School, Kevin Guenther of Davis Ninth Grade School and Jarrod Fredericks of Victory Early College High School.
In addition, the district’s Principal’s of the Year were also announced at the breakfast. Raymond Stubblefield of Smith Elementary School was named the Elementary Principal of the Year and LaTonia Amerson of Eisenhower Ninth Grade School was named the district’s Secondary Principal of the Year. Elementary finalists were LaDon Ward of Conley Elementary School, and Sandra Doria of Thompson Elementary School. Secondary finalists were Jeana Morrison-Adams of Hoffman Middle School and Dr. Phyliss Cormier of Victory Early College High School.
“As a school leader, it is my responsibility to model and support structures that enhance open and honest communications,” Stubblefield said about how he sees his role as a principal. “The structures of effective communications must also be based on mutual respect and trust. I model and share my learning and goals to foster a culture of openness.”
Amerson said she believes it is imperative to develop trust with her staff and stakeholders.
“Establishing trust is key in opening the lines of communication with stakeholders,” she said. “My leadership style promotes trust, ensures a healthy culture, creates and builds partnerships, fosters collaboration, and demands respect for all people. When conversations are open and honest, our work as educators can move forward.”
Burrell believes it’s imperative that students buy into their education.
“Students are more likely to succeed if they believe that they are valuable as individuals,” she said. “I believe that students must gain ownership of their education to accomplish this goal. My desire is to ensure each of my students experience love for learning, an excitement in discovering and a secure feeling of belonging in a classroom.”
Decena said she relishes challenging her students to develop a love for math.
“My role as a teacher is to introduce students to a higher level of mathematics, which often leads to a new way of thinking about the world,” she said. “I love to teach my kids about the mechanics behind everyday items. I show them how the topic they are learning now will be applied and built upon in the next class or grade.”
All Teachers of the Year received cash prizes from the Aldine Education Foundation supported by donations from Presenting Sponsor: H-E-B Tournament of Champions; Platinum Sponsors: Aetna, Dahill and WCA; Gold Sponsors: Beasley Tire Service and Caldwell Companies; Silver Sponsors, CenterPoint Energy, Cigna, McDonald’s and PBK Architects; and Campus Sponsors: WC Lighting & Associations Edgenuity, North Houston District, Jostens, Prime Contractors, Tandus Centiva, TCG Group/TCG Advisors and Eric Walsky.
Burrell, Decena, Stubbleifield and Amerson each received airline tickets from United Airlines and Doggett Ford provided a one-month summer car rental to Amerson, whose name was selected in a drawing of the two Teachers of the Year and the two Principals of the Year. Amerson can choose any vehicle on the Doggett lot for her use for an entire month this summer. Representing Doggett Ford were Libby Covington and Randy Carner.
Additionally, all Teachers of the Year received gift bags with items donated from Barcelona Sports, the East Aldine District, InvesTex Credit Union, Jostens, Magoo’s Print Shop, and Raising Cane’s. Door prizes were donated by DoubleTree Houston IAH Hotel, Hilton North Houston Hotel, Raising Cane’s and Solid IT.
Reed, Aldine’s chief communicaitons officer, served as emcee and introduced members of the Aldine ISD Board of Trustees, and members of Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney’s Executive Leadership Team.
All Teachers of the Year were introduced as “Superstars” by Raul Fonseca and Sheleah Reed and walked the red carpet into the ballroom as Davis High School “paparazzi” took photos of them. The student journalists who snapped photos were Drayton Turner, Jorge Rodriguez and Tania Campos Martinez and their teacher Jalisa Skipworth.
Following the posting of the colors by the Aldine High School JROTC, Pastor David L. Smith delivered the invocation and following breakfast, AEF President Richard Cantu recognized sponsors and introduced a special presentation.
Deputy Superintendent Dr. Selina Chapa then presented the Principal of the Year presentation, which included a video of the “surprise” visit made by Dr. Goffney and members of her Executive Leadership Team when they made their visits to the winner’s respective schools to announce they had been named Principals of the Year.
Javier Villarreal, chief human resource officer, then introduced the Teacher of the Year Committee and asked the six finalists to stand and be recognized.
A video of each finalist was played and then he announced Burrell and Decena as the Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year. Board President Steve Mead, Dr. Chapa, School Assistant Superintendent Janet Ray and Cantu presented the two winners with their gifts.
Mr. Mead then delivered remarks, congratulating the two winners and thanking all of the Teachers of the Year for their service to Aldine.
“I’m never going to make it to Hollywood, but I don’t have to because this room is full of stars, our teachers,” Mr. Mead said. “I want to congratulate Donna and Shannon on being named Aldine ISD’s Teachers of the year. What an outstanding accomplishment.
“I also want to thank all of our four district finalists and all campus Teachers of the Year for the tremendous job you do every day for our students. We can’t thank you enough for the vital role you play in our students’ lives. You do make a difference each and every day and we appreciate you for choosing Aldine as the place to share your tremendous talents with our students.”
Dr. Chapa then delivered closing remarks.
“I want to congratulate all of our Teaches of the Year, along with a big thank you for all you do for our students,” Dr. Chapa said. “I also want to offer a deep appreciation to our sponsors for supporting the teachers and students of Aldine ISD through the Aldine Education Foundation. Thank you all for joining us today.”
The Principal of the Year Committee consisted of Dr. Robin Williams, Cindy Bunge, Betsy Haisler, Sherrie Batro, Bryan Savant, Efrian Uribe, Twiana Collier and Stacey Smith.
The Teacher of the Year Committee consisted of Dr. David Villarreal, Dr. Keena Bradley, Mark Mitchell, Lynette O’Neal, Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Rose Sosa, Lisa Perkins-Jackson, Natasha Prudhomme and Bill Ginder.
Prior to the start of the breakfast, the MacArthur Jazz Band, under the direction of Jose Diaz, provided entertainment.