Well its that time of year again- kids are back to school and teachers are back to work (or did they ever stop?) which means its also one of our favorite times of the year- surprising the honored teachers with their nomination and basket full of great stuff! It’s time to help a teacher out!
Of course none of this could have been possible without our great contributors… check them out:
“Mrs. Dominguez is an amazing teacher. I’ve watched my son go from being this very shy little boy to a confident little boy who loves school and loves to read. My son was born with a birth defect and was very nervous about starting kinder and was very afraid about being different. Mrs. Dominguez, helped him feel right at home in her classroom, never turned away a hug, and made him feel like all the other kids. She has really made a difference in his life, but not only his, but in all the kids she teaches, As I volunteered in Mrs. Dominguez’s class, I’ve watched how all her kids eyes light up when she comes to get them from the cafeteria, or when it’s time to line up and then sneak a hug in to her. I believe a good teacher is one who can give love and discipline to a classroom, which Mrs. Dominguez does every day. One of the best compliments I think a teacher can get is when one of her students calls her mom instead of “teacher” I’ve heard many of her students call her mom without thinking, I believe this shows that they have formed a bond with their teacher. As parents we entrust our children with their teachers 9 months out of a year and I’m glad we had Mrs. Dominguez to trust. We couldn’t have asked for a better teacher for our son, if any one deserves to be nominated its Mrs. Dominguez!”
There were 2 other teachers nominated at Memorial Elementary so Mr. Trujillo, the principal, allowed us to interrupt their staff meeting to surprise all 3 teachers. Tiffany Cox and her son were there to give the basket and lots of hugs to Mrs. Dominguez. She was speechless!
Mrs. Dominguez is married and has three daughters, 2 in college and the youngest a sophomore at NBHS. They enjoy laughing and playing/watching softball together when they can. Her favorite part about teaching is watching the children grow in so many ways between August and May. Every May, they reflect on what they could do in August and compare it to how much more they know and can do better in May. It always blows her away how far they come.
When asked what her reaction was to receiving the award:
“I did not know anything about this program so I was totally surprised to receive it. I am so thankful to all who want to award teachers and recognize them for their best efforts; it feels really satisfying. We as teachers cannot do this job without the help/support of the parents, so I applaud all of the parents who work with the teachers and their children; especially the parents who work as volunteers for school P.T.A.s.—woo hoo!!”
Pictured (From Left to Right): Tiffany Parker, Tiffany Cox, Grandon Cox, Sonya Dominguez
Teacher #2: Stephanie Wommack (Memorial Elementary)
Nominated By: Crystal Dodd
“Stephanie is an amazing teacher and friend. I have never met anyone in my life with as big of heart as her. Her heart and very being thrive on helping others which include her students, teachers and friends.She is constantly going above and beyond to help her students, but still finds the energy and stamina to be an amazing mother to her four children. If it requires her to spend extra time, resources or money she strives to help each child she comes into contact with in her classroom. She believes every child has a deserves the best from her and her classroom. Despite opportunities her students may have, she finds their strengths and showcases them. She fights for her students and wants the very best for them not because of her job but because she truly cares for them, their future and their successes. The impact she has on these children can be seen in the academic year, but I am sure the impact in their life far out weighs the academic year.
She is not the type of person to boast on what she has accomplished but yet strives to better herself and students. She is always looking for research, methods and resources to help herself and students in the classroom. I know many teachers spend their extra time and money outside of the classroom. I applaud them for doing so, but I feel Stephanie does it without a second thought and without hesitation if she feels it will better just one child. I know she would be extremely humbled and honored to receive the recognition she deserves not only as a teacher but as an amazing individual.”
Stephanie Wommack was another teacher at Memorial and just as surprised to see her best friend Crystal at her staff meeting. What great friends!
Pictured (From Left to Right): Tiffany Parker, Stephanie Wommack, Crystal Dodd
Teacher #3: Nancy Goodwin (Memorial Elementary)
Nominated By: Eric & Krista Norris and Jennifer Goodwin
“Nancy Goodwin goes above and beyond for her school and would be a great recipient of your award. She has been teaching physical education for as long as I can remember and has done an outstanding job. She makes it fun and her students are very appreciative. Rarely does she go unrecognized at public places. It usually only takes about five minutes till someone exclaims, “Mrs. Goodwin!!!”. Her lasting impact on kids goes far beyond the elementary level. Furthermore, she organizes a field day that would rival any field day at any school. Period. She has had everything from rides, to animals, games, bbq, dunk booths, etc. It is quite a production. She has also run dances, which anyones knows takes quite the brave soul on the elementary level. Lastly, she helps fundraise so that her kids can enjoy the fun activities at school. She spends many nights at Cici’s pizza in order to help the kids attain the resources they need. Although I never took her class, I can tell you that Nancy Goodwin goes above and beyond for her students. As a fellow educator, it is inspiring to see just how hard she works and what a huge impact she has. She is a fantastic PE teacher! Cares for the kids. Teaches them the importance of PE. Goes over and beyond to teach each child.”
Nancy was the 3rd teacher at Memorial nominated (Must be a really great school!) and it was fun trying to sneak in her daughter (Krista Norris) without Nancy seeing her before the big reveal. Another great surprise for another great teacher!
Pictured (Left to right): Krista Norris, Nancy Goodwin, Tiffany Parker (Eric and Jennifer couldn’t make it that day)
Teacher #4: Joshua Davis (Oak Run Middle School)
Nominated By: Kim Dunbar
“I have never seen a teacher so involved and inspirational towards his students. Math is such a difficult subject, and Mr. Davis not only keeps them interested, but entertained, as well. His students hang on his every word. They begin the year learning about how he was actually in their shoes in school. While in middle school, he also struggled with math and was determined to “slay his math dragon.” He talks on his website about how he learned the power of a good attitude. He inspires them to face their challenges, whether they be math or something personal. His advice for “slaying” self-defining challenges is, “Dragons abound in many forms and we all face them. Some of us, terrified, scramble up the nearest tree; some lie down in the dirt and just give up; others do all they can just to avoid an encounter with anything difficult. Personally, I’d rather draw my sword (or, in this case, my pencil), shoot the beast a defiant grin, and slay me a dragon!” He actually makes math fun! And it is so obvious that he enjoys what he does. His unique style employs creativity and sparks the knowledge of these young impressionable minds.”
I was looking forward to meeting Mr. Davis but unfortunately on the day we stopped in to surprise him, he was out unexpectantly with a sick child of his own. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t get to witness his effects on the school. His room was amazing to see, full of dragons (hand drawn/painted) and also thousands of notes/letters from former students expressing their gratitude for Mr. Davis. Even the janitorial staff that helped us that day, had nothing but great things to say about him.
Pictured: Kim’s daughter and former Mr. Davis student, Kali and of course one of Mr. Davis’ Dragons
We left Mr. Davis a questionnaire to fill out and here are his responses- though we never met, you can tell he’s a truly great guy!
1. About myself, family, etc.:
I was born and raised in Texas and New Braunfels has been my home since I was a wee tot. I attended Memorial Primary, Carl Schurz, and New Braunfels High School; so, a sucker-punch to the nose will find me bleeding blue. I met my wife, Heather (Osborne) Davis at NBHS my junior year and, we have now been married eleven years. Our son, Luke, is a power-packed three-year-old who is every bit as good lookin’ as his mama . . . just in a manly way. The three of us are all but joined at the hip: we love the outdoors and take camping road trips every chance we get. Luke and I are notorious for sneaking out of the house after a good rain storm in search of a good ‘n’ muddy field to trudge the Wrangler through (why should a Jeep be clean?) My wife, also a teacher (SCUCISD) manages her own e-commerce website and specializes in handbags, totes, and other accessories (all of her own design).
2. What led me to teaching:
Heather told me I would be good at it. Honestly, the thought of being shut in a small room with 30 teenagers for an hour at a time shook me in my boots. We had grown tired of my old job in sales management and decided it had run its course. It seems God had a similar notion because, before I could resign, the company I worked for went belly-up and I soon found myself among the myriads of unemployed. This worked out nicely; however. Luke was soon to be born and it was determined that I would be the one to stay home with him his first year (an opportunity I am so grateful for). During this time, I stilled my shaking boots, and began the certification process to become a Texas teacher. My scores on the proficiency exam qualified me to teach every subject about which I was totally stoked, with one exception . . . I was afraid they’d make me teach math.
3. Favorite part of teaching:
Knowing what I do on a daily basis changes lives. A parent of one of my students approached me a few days ago and told me that my class was her son’s favorite part of each day. I assumed it was because the kid was a natural math-genius; however, his mother went on to explain that she and her husband had gone through a drawn-out and messy divorce that had come to take a heavy toll on her son emotionally. It seemed every day last year, he would come home talking about a joke I cracked in class, a story I told to embellish the lesson, or about a conversation he and I had had when he dropped by my room after school. He and I had created our own secret “math-ninja handshake” which, according to his mom, was unbelievably cool to him. She finished by explaining that her son’s experience in my class provided respite from the stress and pain at home. It enabled him to regain some confidence and joy (which every child should be brimming over with).
I had no idea. I thought he just like math.
4. The items in my basket will be well used in my room. The office supplies will replenish my desk (much needed). The folders are invaluable because there are always students who’s parents don’t supply what they need (for whatever reason). A simple folder to organize assignments can save a child’s year. The gift cards will be a nice treat for my family. Many of the fun items (pencils, erasers, etc.) are great prizes for class participation, etc. Even a smelly candle (great for when they come in from P.E.)! A very useful assortment!
5. My reaction to the package was a mixture of shock and gratitude. A teacher thrives off of the feeling that they have made a difference and the thoughtful note from Kim Dunbar and Ryan and Tiffany Parker were inspiring. I can’t tell you how much strength comes from the note alone, and then the basket full of goods to boot!
There were 3 teachers nominated from Garden Ridge Elementary as well and here they are:
Teacher #5: Tasha Miller (Garden Ridge Elementary)
Nominated By: Megan Thaler
“Tasha is an amazing teacher! She loves her kiddos and parents. I worked with her for two years and saw such amazing talent from her. I feel she would be a great person for this award. Teaching is truly a natural thing for her. She brings joy in classroom and amongst her fellow teachers. She truly is an inspiration and I’m glad I got the chance to work with her. Tasha is a team member who shares ideas, lessons and gives great advice. Not only is she a team player but she truly cares about her classroom. She dedicates her time into teaching. The two years I worked with her I’ve seen her go through a lot personally but never let it affect her teaching. Her love of teaching has truly shined. If you ask any student or parent I am sure you will hear nothing but great things. She has great communication with parents and stays involved by being a member and leader for PTO.Her personality is one that you would never forget. She can always put a smile on your face. I am going to miss working with her as she as inspired me to be a better teacher.”
Teacher #6: Kara Green (Garden Ridge Elementary)
Nominated By: Cara Stautzenberger
“Kara Green is a fabulous teacher! She has been teaching kindergarten for 30 + years. She is incredibly caring and works hard to make each and every one of her children feel successful. She has strong relationships with her students and their families that last a lifetime. When you walk into her classroom it feels like being a part of a family. Everyone is loved and cared for. Her students leave her classroom having gained academic knowledge as well as grown and strengthened their character. Not only is she an amazing teacher to her students but she is also an asset and resource to her fellow teammates. I had the privilege of spending my first two years of teaching on her team. I could not have asked for a better mentor, teammate or friend. She made every one of us feel like we had a voice and considered everyone’s ideas. There was not a question you could not ask or a problem that she wouldn’t help trouble shoot and solve. For a new teacher this was an incredible teaching experience to have. I never had to worry about a decision or plan she was there every step of the way. She spent hours of her valuable time guiding me to be a better and stronger teacher. She is a fabulous teacher, mentor, and friend.”
Teacher #7: Sayde Dunlap (Garden Ridge Elementary)
Nominated By: Julie Chinni
“Mrs. Dunlap has filled so many rolls above and beyond her job description as a Special Education teacher. She has been a counselor, a role model, a therapist, an advisor, and a teacher. She envelops the children who need extra help in their school day in a cocoon and loves them without judgment. My son knows that he can ask for her help at any time and be received with open arms and an open heart. Anything that he struggles with academically is suddenly brought clear to him through her unique way of teaching the material. She breaks down the concepts into steps with tools and manipulatives that help my son have that “light bulb” moment. Mrs. Dunlap’s patience and understanding of student’s struggles academically, socially, and emotionally are admirable. She teaches the whole child, not just pieces of them.
As a parent Mrs. Dunlap has been an invaluable resource to me. She has always been available before and after school, as well as through email. When I have any questions or concerns she has always worked to find a solution that is best for everyone involved. She is one of my son’s biggest advocates and I have always been comfortable walking into an ARD knowing that she has his best interests at heart.
There is no doubt in my mind that Mrs. Dunlap deserves to be recognized for her efforts in and out of the classroom as a teacher for Comal ISD.”
Another great school with another great principal, Joni Coker, who allowed us to interrupt their busy day to announce the winners in front of the entire staff. Tears were shed and all 3 ladies were speechless and happy to be honored. Have I mentioned how much I love this time of year?
Pictured (Left to Right): Tiffany Parker, Tasha Miller, Sayde Dunlap, Kara Green
Sayde Dunlap sent us this sweet, touching letter shortly after getting the award:
“To say the basket was a surprise is an understatement! I am truly grateful and thankful for such an honor. I am in my 34th year of teaching and feel truly blessed to be a teacher in this noble profession. I have taught many grade levels but currently I am a special education teacher. I deal with children with various learning styles and abilities. Many times learning is difficult for them but my job is to teach and motivate them and to let them know that even though they may struggle in school, many famous people had learning challenges and became successful, famous adults. My motto is “Fair is what you need to be successful.”
Please extend a thank you to all the participants who make this possible. The basket of goodies is a gold mine for a teacher! Everything will be used! The gift certificates make it so personalized for us. Your generosity in starting a program like this is inspirational.
I have lived in New Braunfels since 1975. My husband of 37 years is also a teacher. I have two children and four grandchildren.
It was truly an honor to be nominated by a parent for making a difference. That is what I believe teachers are about- making a positive difference in someone’s life. Thank you and everyone for making this possible.”
And last but certainly not least:
Teacher #8: Julie Felpel (Seele Elementary)
Nominated by: Zach, Jennifer & A.J. Villanueva
Zach was a student in Julie Felpel’s 2nd grade class last year and he actually hand wrote his nomination (of 200+ words). It was so sweet the way it was handwritten, that we delivered the nomination as it was to Mrs. Felpel to have as a keepsake. We completely forgot that you at home would want to read it as well, so we regret to inform everyone, we failed to type it up before we gave it to Mrs. Felpel. You can be sure it was truly touching and something Julie Felpel will treasure always! (He even mentioned certain lessons and moments in class that stuck with him- every teachers dream!) Zach’s parents, Jennifer & A.J. Villanueva also wrote a separate nomination (handwritten as well) and we failed to save that one as well, but it was equally as touching from a parent’s standpoint. Julie Felpel has definitely made a positive impact on many in her teaching career!
Julie Felpel was busy getting her classroom ready when we surprised her with her award. She was so excited to see Zach, that I don’t think she realized she was getting an award at first. The principal at Seele, Kimberly Recio, even got on the PA System and announced to the school Mrs. Felpel’s recognition. What a great moment to witness!
Pictured (Left to Right): Zayden, Jennifer, Mrs. Felpel, Zach
As you can see, these teachers are not only great at what they do, but they touch so many lives that it was easy to get nominators, donors, staff, principals, janitors, students, parents, friends, etc. to rally behind them and help honor them. We wish we could help honor all teachers for what they do, but for now, we’re glad we can do what we’re able to do.
We’re proud to be a part of this community, we’re proud to help build in this community and we’re proud to honor those who help build this community as well.