Trinity University president Danny Anderson congratulates Carol Marie Hudson at a ceremony to award the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Photo by Bekah McNeel
Trinity University president Danny Anderson congratulates Carol Marie Hudson at a ceremony to award the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Photo by Bekah McNeel

Trinity University named the two recipients of their 35th annual Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching at a ceremony on Friday.

Carol Marie Hudson, a kindergarten teacher in Northside Independent School District, and Calvin W. Lambert, a Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) instructor in Uvalde Consolidated ISD, each received a special award and additional cash prize.

Shari Albright introduced Hudson (pictured above) by reading a commendation from Hudson’s principal who wrote that the teacher “makes learning an adventure for her students every day.”

“You dream of being a world-changer. That’s why you get into this career,” Hudson said. “When you’ve been doing this for a while, the satisfaction comes from those small moments in your classroom.”

Calvin W. Lambert thanks students and supporters after receiving the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Photo by Bekah McNeel
Calvin W. Lambert thanks students and supporters after receiving the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Photo by Bekah McNeel

For Lambert, his route into teaching “took a detour” when he joined the Navy during the Vietnam War. Now Lambert leads his cadets in citizenship and community service. Those students showed up to support Lambert, saluting him as he took the stage.

“They are the ones who get this award,” Lambert said.

Shanna Peeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, addressed the honorees, Trinity education students, and the families there to support them.

Peeples is an AP English teacher and instructional coach at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo. She also dedicates time and energy to teaching in Amarillo’s large refugee community. After traveling in the Middle East and seeing the forgotten children of war torn areas, she shared her regret at not seizing an opportunity to speak out against Gov. Gregg Abbot’s rejection of Syrian refugees. She has dedicated her many subsequent speaking opportunities since to telling the story of the children she saw and speaking on behalf of refugees.

“That’s the promise that we make as teachers in public schools. We will be here, and we will help you,” Peeples said.

National Teacher of the Year (2015) Shanna Peeples speaks to educators at Trinity University. Photo by Bekah McNeel
National Teacher of the Year (2015) Shanna Peeples speaks to educators at Trinity University. Photo by Bekah McNeel

She encouraged teachers to tell their own stories for the sake of their students.

“Stories, particularly teachers’ stories, are in and of themselves a political tool,” she said.

Peeples stressed the importance of teachers sharing the truth of their experience and the experiences of their students in their communities. In the face of mounting tension surrounding the condition and quality of public schools, she believes that teachers must fill in the gaps between students and those who determine the fate of their schools.

“Your community is your classroom, and those you speak for,” Peeples said,“I’m asking you to be brave. If not brave for yourself, be brave for your students.”

The 19 finalists for the Trinity prize represent communities and classrooms from across Bexar County and the surrounding counties.

A blue-ribbon panel of business and civic leaders as well as outstanding students from Trinity’s education department reviewed each of the finalists in depth before closing the winners. Trinity President Danny Anderson described these teachers are the wise guides leading student heroes on their journey of becoming.

“Today’s prize is about the teachers in our community who inspire learning,” Anderson said.

All finalists received $2,500 in cash and a crystal apple from Tiffany & Co. The gifts were sponsored in part by H-E-B.

Trinity’s education department is a nationally recognized leader in teacher training, and has produced some of the city’s most innovative educators. The Trinity Award focuses on both outstanding teaching and educational leadership, encouraging the promotion of best practices and innovative thought in the field.

Peebles’s inspiring address added another dimension to the recognition in her charge to the teachers: “You are a warrior of hope and a warrior of kindness. You are a dragon-slayer and your sword is your successes.”

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.