Mariangela Garcia, Lester Morrow selected as Aldine ISD’s top teachers

Mariangela Garcia was named Aldine ISD’s Elementary/Intermediate Teacher of the Year and Lester Morrow was named the district’s Secondary Teacher of the Year during Aldine ISD’s Teacher of the Year Breakfast, held Friday, March 10 at the Hyatt North Houston Hotel.

Garcia is a third-grade bilingual teacher at Black Elementary School and Morrow is a language arts teacher at Hambrick Middle School. Garcia has spent nine years as a teacher with Aldine ISD and Morrow has 20 years of teaching experience with the district.

The other four district finalists were Eun Sung Kim of Carter Academy, Jacob Elmhorst of Ermel Elementary School, Rebecca Pel of MacArthur Ninth Grade School and Michelle Womack of Shotwell Middle School.

Garcia said her role as a teacher is to be a difference-maker in the lives of her students.

“Every day offers us a new and integral opportunity to be a difference-maker,” she said. “Teaching enables us not only to make a difference in the world, but to make a lasting difference in our own lives. My philosophy is simple: be passionate in what I do, be intentional in what I do and be grateful for the opportunity to make a positive difference in another’s life.”

Morrow said he embraces the many roles he plays as a teacher.

“Teachers are placed in a child’s life to do more than just merely teach the content area; we are here to fill voids and sometimes play many different roles,” he said. “To some, we must be like a parent to encourage them to make good choices and to consider consequences of their actions. We have to be a big brother who always has their back and will be their support in good and especially, hard times. We build relationships of trust, love, loyalty and acceptance. Your classroom is home; you are a family.”

In addition to being honored by a number of North Houston/Greenspoint area businesses who generously donated gifts to the two winners, the four finalists and all campus teachers of the year, the Aldine Education Foundation (AEF) presented checks to honor all of the district’s Teachers of the Year. Garcia and Morrow each received $5,000 from AEF, the four finalists each received $2,000 from AEF and the campus Teachers of the Year each received $400 from AEF.

Garcia and Morrow also received two first-class, round-trip tickets from United Airlines, $250 from InvesTex Credit Union and a weekend stay with breakfast at the DoubleTree Houston Intercontinental Hotel.

The four finalists received lunch for two at Oakley’s at the DoubleTree Intercontinental Airport Hotel and a $50 gift certificate from Dillard’s in Greenspoint Mall.

Each Teacher of the Year received a gift bag from Target, a three-year calendar planner from Josten’s, a lunch bag, coffee mug, pen and pencil from the East Aldine District, pen and a highlighter from the North Houston District, a book of sticky notes from InvesTex Credit Union, a lunch bag from Magoo Print Shop and a polo-style shirt from AEF.

Additionally, door prizes were donated by Greenspoint Mall, the Hilton Houston North Hotel, the Houston Astros, the Houston Rockets and Hyatt North Houston Hotel.

Prior to the announcement of the district Teachers of the Year, AEF President Bill Ginder provided an overview of the Foundation, introduced the AEF Board and thanked the sponsors who made donations. Those sponsors are: Platinum Sponsor – Caldwell Companies; Gold Sponsor – Thompson & Horton; Silver Sponsors – BakerRipley, Charter Title Company, McDonald’s, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliff; Campus Sponsors – Beasley Tire Service, Edgenuity, Martinez Architects, Precept Wealth Management, Pastor and Mr. David L. Smith and TCG Group/TCG Administrator; and Generous Donors – Lynn Berry and The Teaching Doctors.

Dr. David Villareal, the district’s Director of Professional Standards, served as chairman of the Teacher of the Year Committee. The committee consisted of Dr. Robin Williams of Human Resources, Dr. Keena Bradley of Human Resources, AEF Board Members Sidney Brewer and Jeff Hartman, Laura Hamilton, the 2015-16 Elementary/Intermediate Teacher of the Year, Sarita Salinas, the 2015-16 Secondary Teacher of the Year, Emica Fields of deSantiago EC/Pre-K Center, Edna Sanchez of Conley Elementary School, Sandra Jackson of Anderson Academy and Jerome Nickerson of Shotwell Middle School.

Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg provided closing remarks. She thanked the sponsors and the AEF for the support they have shown to the Teacher of the Year Breakfast over the last four years and had special words for each and every Teacher of the Year.

“I want to thank you for the incredible work all of you do,” Dr. Bamberg said. “I am inspired by the work you do.”

During breakfast, the MacArthur Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Jose Diaz, provided the entertainment.