Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson visited with Goddard's Space Flight Center Director Chris Scolese and the James Webb Space Telescope team at Goddard in Greenbelt, Md. on June 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of NASA/Goddard/Rebecca Roth.
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson visited with Goddard's Space Flight Center Director Chris Scolese and the James Webb Space Telescope team at Goddard in Greenbelt, Md. on June 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of NASA/Goddard/Rebecca Roth.

H-E-B will gather dozens of teachers, principals, school districts, and educational programs from across Texas on Thursday, May 13 at La Cantera Hill Country Resort as the grocery chain announces the winners of its annual Excellence in Education Awards. An added bonus for many of the honorees, who have already received praise and large checks as finalists – and some will receive even more of each as they are named winners, will be that the keynote speaker for the award ceremony is Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The award ceremony is by invitation only as H-E-B calls attention to the top, often under-appreciated educators in the state, their families.

Tyson is probably one of the most famous astrophysicist and cosmologist. While these fields don’t commonly lend themselves to the creation of household names, television shows and appearances, books, and viral fan memes have brought a little bit more science into the everyday lives of millions around the world.

H-E-B gives nearly $800,000 in cash, grants, and gift cards each year as part of the awards, the largest monetary program for recognizing educators in the state.

A panel of judges will perform in-person interviews and select winners on May 12 to be announced the following day.

Delia McLerran, principal of Young Women's Leadership Academy, is a finalist in the 2016 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards. Photo by Darren Abate for H-E-B.
Delia McLerran (center), principal of Young Women’s Leadership Academy, is a finalist in the 2016 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards. Photo by Darren Abate for H-E-B.

Here’s a complete list of finalists in 12 categories. Local finalists have been underlined.

Rising Star Elementary

  • Stephanie Stoebe, Teravista Elementary, Round Rock ISD
  • Sarah Aguirre, Colonies North Elementary, Northside ISD
  • Hilda Nanez, Green Valley Elementary, Galena Park ISD
  • Meghan Zigmond, H.G. Olsen Elementary, Port Aransas ISD
  • Jay Fisher, Howard Dobbs Elementary, Rockwall ISD

Rising Star Secondary

  • Rachel Foreman, Dripping Springs High School, Dripping Springs ISD
  • Jarrett Lipman, Claudia Taylor “Ladybird” Johnson High School, North East ISD
  • Bree Welter, Ross Sterling Middle School, Humble ISD
  • Yvette Nevarez, Alton Memorial Jr. High, Mission CISD
  • Alexandra Edwards, Killeen High School, Killeen ISD

Leadership Elementary

  • Michelle Cardenas, Hillcrest Elementary, Del Valle ISD
  • Melinda Valdez, Henry Steubing Elementary, Northside ISD
  • Tammy Verstrate, LaVace Stewart Elementary, Clear Creek ISD
  • Adriana Whitwell, East Side Intermediate, Palacios ISD
  • Julie Levesque, Chapel Hill Elementary, Chapel Hill ISD

Leadership Secondary

  • Kristi Carruthers, Burnet High School, Burnet CISD
  • Steve Davidson, Douglas MacArthur High School, North East ISD
  • Michelle Nelson?Archer, Sartartia Middle School, Fort Bend ISD
  • Caleb Swaringen, IDEA College Preparatory McAllen, IDEA Public School
  • Martha Saucedo, Brady High School, Brady ISD

Lifetime Achievement Elementary

  • Laurie Holmes, Popham Elementary, Del Valle ISD
  • Cynthia Wallace, Dr. Joe Ward Elementary, Northside ISD
  • Lori Burton, Jean C Few Primary School, Jasper ISD
  • Marianne Mojica, Windsor Park Elementary, Corpus Christi ISD
  • Robin Higgs, Hilltop Elementary, Argyle ISD

Lifetime Achievement Secondary

  • Mark Misage, Westlake High School, Eanes ISD
  • Bryan Degner, Boerne Middle School North, Boerne ISD
  • Ann Linsley, Bellaire High School, Houston ISD
  • Bill McIntire, W.B. Ray High School, Corpus Christi ISD
  • John Gable, Thomas Jefferson High School, El Paso ISD

Principal Elementary

  • Betty Jenkins, Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy, Austin ISD
  • Mary Helen Cover, Rita Kay Driggers Elementary, Northside ISD
  • Dr. Michael Marquez, Margaret S. McWhirter Elementary, Clear Creek ISD
  • Yolanda Castillo, Graciela Garcia Elementary, Pharr?San Juan?Alamo ISD
  • Sandy Conklin, Samuel Beck Elementary, Northwest ISD

Principal Secondary

  • Dan Diehl, Bedicheck Middle School, Austin ISD
  • Delia McLerran, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, San Antonio ISD
  • Angela Lundy?Jackson, North Houston Early College High School, Houston ISD
  • Dr. Sandra Clement, Foy H. Moody High School, Corpus Christi ISD
  • Dr. Janice Lombardi, Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College, Dallas ISD

LARGE SCHOOL DISTRICTS

  • Leander ISD ? Leander
  • Socorro ISD ? El Paso
  • Galena Park ISD ? Houston
  • Allen ISD ? Allen
  • Katy ISD ? Katy

SMALL SCHOOL DISTRICTS

  • Dripping Springs ISD ? Dripping Springs
  • Valley View ISD ? Pharr
  • Midway ISD ? Woodway

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FACILITIES

  • Central Texas 4C, Inc. ? Temple
  • Sammy’s House CDC ? Austin
  • SEARCH Homeless Services ? Houston
  • Hidalgo ISD ? Hidalgo
  • Sunshine Cottage ? San Antonio

PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARDS

  • Pharr?San Juan?Alamo ISD ? Pharr
  • Alamo Heights ISD ? San Antonio
  • Humble ISD ? Humble
  • Somerset ISD ? Somerset
  • Allen ISD ? Allen
https://rivardreport.wildapricot.org

Disclosure: H-E-B regularly advertises with the Rivard Report. The grocery chain’s Chairman and CEO Charles Butt also contributes as an individual contributor.

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H-E-B to Surprise 40 Texas Educators with Big Checks & Accolades

H-E-B Announces Finalists for Excellence in Education Awards

When Excellence in Education Means Awards, Cash, and True Appreciation

Inspire Awards Highlight SAISD Excellence

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org