Elementary 2014 Teacher of the Year - Adelina Phucas

Adelina Phucas
Housman Elementary School
Bilingual Kindergarten

Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, Texas), Bachelor of Arts, 1994

Teaching History                                    
Housman Elementary, 2009-Present
Bilingual ESL Dept., 2008-2009
Bear Blvd. School for Early Learning, 2007-2008
Bilingual Intervention Specialist, 2000-2007
Spring Branch Elementary, 1996-2000
Housman Elementary, 1995-1996                   Anson Jones Elementary (Bryan, Texas),

20 years total of teaching experience

In her own words . . .

“Teaching my kindergarteners to write has given me the greatest satisfaction. This has allowed me to demonstrate and model for my students the importance of determination. My daily modeling of writing, and encouragement, has propelled my students and allowed them to excel in the area of reading and writing.”

In the words of others . . .

“In SBISD, our goal is that every child graduates our system prepared to successfully complete a technical, two- or four-year advanced degree. Ms. Phucas works diligently with her students, parents and colleagues to make sure this happens for every child every day. Her classroom is warm and inviting, and she welcomes all students with open arms.”
Jennifer Blaine, SBISD Associate Superintendent for Administration and Operations

“Ms. Phucas seems to manage it all! She manages to consistently teach her kindergarten students to read year after year, which we all know is not an easy feat. . . . She is definitely the dove on our campus, the ‘peace keeper,’ and she strives for all to reach common understanding. . . . She is an angel among all angels!”
Mary Lou Davalos, Housman Elementary Principal

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:

Elementary District Teacher of the Year, Spring Branch ISD, 2013-2014


Secondary 2014 Teacher of the Year - Claudia Castillo

Claudia Castillo
Northbrook High School
Grade 9, World Geography, Pre-Advanced Placement World Geography

Houston Baptist University, Bachelor of Arts, Composite Social Studies, 2010

Teaching History                                    
Northbrook High School, Spring Branch ISD, 2010-Present

Four years total of teaching experience

In her own words…

 “My most significant contribution in education has been building positive and motivating relationships with and between each of my students. . . . I want each of my students to feel individually recognized by me and by their peers whether they are introverts or extroverts, high achievers or low achievers, rule-followers or rule- breakers.”

In the words of others…
“Claudia Castillo is an excellent example of what the Spring Branch Teacher of the Year should be. She is extremely strong and effective in the classroom, a leader in the curriculum area, and a kind and compassionate person who you want around kids.”
Nancy C. Jackson, Northbrook High Social Studies Dept. Chair

“For two years, Claudia and I taught together in the Childress Foundation Academy. Her students would become my students. It was easy to tell what a great job she was doing in the classroom by how prepared her students were when they got to me. The creative ideas that she put into her lessons and her hard work made it possible for her students to be successful.”
Donald W. Miller, Retired Northbrook High school teacher and Childress Foundation Academy leader

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:
Northbrook High School Teacher of the Year, Spring Branch ISD, 2013-2014
World Geography Team Leader, Northbrook High School, SBISD, 2013-2014
Word Geography District Curriculum Writing and reorganization, 2012-2013
New Teacher Mentor, Northbrook High School, SBISD,  2012-2013


Secondary 2014 Teacher of the Year - Nicole Harris

Nicole Harris
Academy of Choice
Grades 9-12, World Geography, Government, Economics, Psychology, Sociology

Wayland Baptist University at San Antonio, Master’s of Education, Educational Leadership, 2007
Texas Lutheran University (Seguin, Texas), Bachelor of Arts, Secondary Education, 2003

Teaching History                                    
Academy of Choice High School, Spring Branch ISD, 2011-Present
J. Frank Dobie Junior High, Schertz Cibolo University ISD, 2003-2011

11 years total of teaching experience

In her own words…

“Giving of love, knowledge, or passion does not draw from your stock, but plants a seed to help others cultivate their own. Students blossom with independence and are able to attribute their successes and learning back to themselves.”

In the words of others…

“Ms. Harris is a tremendous asset to our team at the Academy of Choice. Nicole maintains a high degree of flexibility and understanding as a professional educator. These standards, among many others that Nicole possesses are crucial to the nontraditional goals set forth in the mission we have here at the Academy of Choice.” –Michele Hilberth, Ed.D. , Academy of Choice Principal

“Nicole is beloved by her students because she offers an alternative to the typical; her class is project based, and students engage in verbal presentations, visual art based projects, creative writing, and discussions to display their knowledge of content.” –Anita Wadhwa, Ed.D. , Academy of Choice Instructor

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:

Academy of Choice Teacher of the Year, Spring Branch ISD, 2013-2014
Outstanding Student Teacher Award, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #8456, Navaroo ISD


Secondary 2014 Teacher of the Year - Abigayla Flores

Abigayla Flores
Landrum Middle School
Grades 6-8, Spanish Language; Spanish Pre-Advanced Placement

University of St. Thomas (Houston, Texas), Bachelor of Arts, 2011

Teaching History                                    
Landrum Middle School, 2011-Present

Three years total of teaching experience

In her own words…

“If one were to step into my classroom, they would see students working on projects that allowed them to creatively use their strengths. I am a firm believer in project-based learning that brings together all types of intelligence. My students are always given the opportunity to succeed through their strengths.”

In the words of others…

“Mrs. Flores truly cares and works with students in her classroom, but also feels the urgency to impact every student on this campus. She makes a daily commitment to show students how to build on their strengths and potential for the future. . . . She dedicates her life to making an impact daily on the lives of students.”
Patricia Thomas, Landrum Middle Interim Principal

“Abigayl’s greatest strengths are her flexibility, creativity and the ability to adapt to change within her subject matter as it pertains to presenting it to her students. Her passion for teaching, open-mindedness and placing students’ needs first makes her a great candidate for this great honor in SBISD.”
Brenda De La Rosa, Landrum Middle School Assistant Principal

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:
Landrum Middle School Teacher of the Year, Spring Branch ISD, 2013-2014
PTA School Bell Award Nominee, February 2014
Houston Rockets Teacher Appreciation Night Honoree, February 2014
Teacher of the Month, Landrum Middle School, December 2012


Elementary 2014 Teacher of the Year - Naomi Ford

Naomi Ford
Hunters Creek Elementary School
Grade 3/ ESL

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Certified Church Educator, 2006-2008
Austin College (Sherman, Texas), Master of Arts in Teaching, 2003
Austin College (Sherman, Texas), Bachelor of Fine Arts/Psychology, 2002

Teaching History                                    
Hunters Creek Elementary, Spring Branch ISD, 2008-Present
St. Philip Presbyterian Church (Hurst, Texas), 2005-2008
McKamy Elementary, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, 2003-2005

Nine years total of teaching experience

In her own words . . .

“My contribution is my heart. I’ve been in different schools and worked with students at each extreme. No matter rich, poor, dyslexic, gifted, English-language learner, boy or girl, I hope that the time I invest in them has made a difference to them. I hope that they know that I continue to believe in them and they are loved.”

In the words of others . . .

“Omi has extremely high expectations for herself and her students. She helps each student reach his or her full potential. She is able to keep each student challenged, and right on the cutting edge of learning, without causing the child to be stressed. Her bright students are challenged and motivated to learn. Her struggling learners are challenged and motivated as well. She’s able to provide each student with just the right amount of support to “be the best” that he or she can be.”
Robye Snyder, Hunters Creek Elementary Principal

“Mrs. Ford embraces SBISD’s T-2-4 initiative by ensuring that all students reach their full potential by providing the needed support to develop a solid foundation on which to build. She sets high expectations for students and expects only the very best from them.”
Belinda Henry, Hunters Creek Elementary Assistant Principal

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:
Hunters Creel Elementary Teacher of the Year, Spring Branch ISD, 2013-2014
West Houston Area Council of Teachers of English, member, 2013-Present
Grade 3 Team Leader, 2012-2013
Campus Improvement Team (CIT), Member, 2010-2011


Elementary 2014 Teacher of the Year - Delfino Guillen

Delfino Guillen
Buffalo Creek Elementary School      
Kindergarten Bilingual/Former Grade 3 Bilingual

Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas), Doctoral Degree (Ed.D.), Educational Leadership
University of Houston-Downtown, Master’s Degree in Teaching, 2007
University of Houston, Bachelor of Science, Interdisciplinary Studies-Bilingual Education, 2004
North Harris Community College, Associate of Arts, May 2000

Teaching History                                    
Buffalo Creek Elementary, Spring Branch ISD, 2009-Present
Parent Institute of Quality Education (PIQE) 2011-2012
Treasure Forest, Spring Branch ISD, 2004-2009

10 years total of teaching experience

In his own words . . .

“From a young age, I knew that my career would be in helping people. That desire, in combination with my father’s example of having hard work ethics, led me to feel the need to take advantage of every educational opportunity so that I may better serve.”

In the words of others . . .

“He is the most loved teacher on our campus. When he walks the hallways, students from kinder through fifth grade run to him to give him hugs. This is a reflection of how amazing Delfino is. He selflessly gives all that he has to the students at our school, the parents, and our community. We are all better because of him.”
Fourth-grade Bilingual Teacher Sandra Ramirez

“Mr. Guillen has a great love for his students and for making sure he meets each child’s needs. He embodies the true spirit of campus and district Teacher of the Year.”
Buffalo Creek Elementary Principal David Rodriguez

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:
Buffalo Creek Elementary Teacher of the Year, Spring Branch ISD, 2013-2014


Spring Oaks Middle 2014 Teacher of the Year - Farkhunda Yasim Azeem

Farkhunda Yasmin Azeem
Spring Oaks Middle School
Grade 6, Science

Bombay University (Bombay, India) Master of Science in Textile Chemistry, 1991
Bombay University (Bombay, India) Associate Degree, Business Management, 1990
Bombay University (Bombay, India) Bachelor of Science in Sciences, 1989

Teaching History                                    
Spring Oaks Middle School, Spring Branch ISD, 2004-2014
Iman Academy (Houston, Texas),  2003-2004

11 years total of teaching experience

In her own words…

“I believe that teaching students to learn, think and reflect on their learning and thinking are the keys to producing lifelong learners who will be ready to meet the challenges of 21st century careers. Students need to have authentic, personally meaningful experiences to help them learn to use technology effectively, solve problems creatively, work collaboratively, communicate clearly, and live ethically.”

In the words of others

“Mrs. Azeem is that one in a million teacher who has all the tools, abilities, and, of course, the desire to be successful and help kids.”
Paul Suess, Spring Oaks Middle School Principal

“Ms. Azeem was from Day One and incredibly gifted teacher. Her smile and her ease with students, her natural love of learning, her ability to see from the students’
Perspective, and her knack for finding interesting and engaging learning activities were all indications of a master teacher who just needed a few years to fully develop her craft. “
David Sablatura, Ed.D., Former Spring Oaks Middle Principal, now Assistant to the Superintendent and Board of Trustees

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:
Region IV Collaborative STM, Member, 2012-Present
Spring Branch ISD e-Trainer, 2009-Present

Grade 6 Team Leader, Spring Oaks Middle School, 2006-Present


The Guthrie Center 2014 Teacher of the Year - Jane Primrose

Jane Primrose
The Guthrie Center
Grades 6-12, Agriculture Production

Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas) Med-Educational Leadership, 2012
Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, Texas), Master of Science in Agricultural Sciences, 2003 
Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) Bachelor of Science-Animal Science, 2001

Teaching History                                    
The Guthrie Center, Spring Branch ISD, 2012-Present
Brazos High School, Brazos ISD, 2012
Spring High School, Spring ISD, 2001-2010
Bay City High School, Bay City ISD, 2003-2005

10 years total of teaching experience

In his own words…

“My most significant accomplishments in education are my students. Many students return from college and mention that they have significantly less struggles in college because I taught them ‘how to learn,’ or that they are more comfortable expressing themselves because of my classes. I have attended weddings, baby showers, college graduations and birthday parties of some of my students, and feel blessed to have been a part of many of their journeys.”

In the words of others…

“When a parent or student comes in before class with a question about a sick animal, a class assignment or FFA question, she is ready, willing and able to help. . . . She is always willing to help with the what, when, why and how questions that come by the hundreds each day. I know this to be true because my son, wife and I have been on the asking end of many of those questions over the past couple of years.”
 –J. Ken Johnson, Texas FFA Foundation Chair

“[I quickly realized] that Jane was the real deal. She expects the same high standards from her students that she demands of herself. She listens to her students, parents and coworkers and responds with empathy without accepting excuses. Jane approaches even the most difficult situation or person with professionalism, tact and a sense that nothing is insurmountable or irresolvable.”
 –Joe Kolenda, Principal, The Guthrie Center

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:

Campus Improvement Team, The Guthrie Center, 2014
Glazier Agriculture Teacher of the Year, 2009

Bay City Rookie Teacher of the Year, 2004


Spring Woods Middle 2014 Teacher of the Year - Joseph Maurer

Joseph Maurer
Spring Woods Middle School
Grade 8, Mathematics 

University of Houston Graduate School of Education iSmart (Integrated Science Mathematics and Reflective Teaching) cohort member, 2013-Present
Houston Community College, Associates of Sciences in Health Sciences, 2011
University of Houston, Bachelor of Arts, English Literature & Linguistics, 2006

Teaching History                                    
Spring Woods Middle School, Spring Branch ISD, 2011-Present
Spring Forest Middle School, Spring Branch ISD, 2006-2011 

Seven years total of teaching experience

In his own words…

“I believe that all students can be successful with time, resources, inspiration and each other. Children are curious about the world around them. Given the opportunity, students can and will come together to learn about anything that captures their attention. Students are self-directed learners who will surprise us with their insight, ideas and creativity. What makes me an outstanding teacher is that I provide students the structure and spark to drive their curiosity about the mathematics we learn in class.”

In the words of others…

“Mr. Maurer is a team player, serves as an instructional leader on our campus as well as Math Department Chair. He is inclusive in his leadership of his math team and has encouraged other teachers to try the flipped classroom and other instructional methods for student success. “
Karen Liska, Spring Woods Middle School Principal

“In his classroom the flow of learning begins the moment a student crosses the threshold because, as he says, ‘Every minute counts!’ His math class is an active place where students are learning and then demonstrating what they have learned. You may often see students up in front of the class teaching their classmates what they have learned, and the students are excited about this!”
Cathy Lassiter, Spring Woods Middle Educational Diagnostician

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:
Spring Woods Middle School mentor Teacher, 2012-Present
National Council for the Teachers of Mathematics, 2013-Present

TExSOL Conference presenter, October 2013


Ridgecrest Elementary 2014 Teacher of the Year - Lorenza V. Garay

Lorenza V. Garay
Ridgecrest Elementary
Grade 2, Two-Way Dual Language

University Houston Downtown (Houston, Texas), Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies, - Bilingual
University of Houston (Houston, Texas), Cum Laude,  2010
Houston Community College, Associates Degree of Arts

Teaching History
Spring Branch ISD, Ridgecrest Elementary School, 2011-present
Neighborhood Centers Inc, 2003-2011

Three years total of teaching experience

In her own words…

"I remind them [my students] that dreams can come true. This one year, one [of] my students asked me what my dream was. without a thought my response to him was, 'I live my dream every day when I am here teaching in the classroom.'"

In the words of others . . .

“Mrs. Garay is an over-comer, a problem-solver, an innovator, and a dynamic member of our 4th grade team. Her enthusiasm, love, and passion for teaching our second language learner from poverty cannot be rivaled by any other candidate.”
Ridgecrest Elementary School Principal Patricia Thomas

Mrs. Garay “builds sound relationships with her students and is committed to learning about them and their interest so that she can speak on each of them on a more personal level. She knows who is playing on a soccer team, what each student’s pet is named, and what students are looking forward to having a new baby brother or sister soon.”
Christine Tuckett, 4th Grade Teacher, Ridgecrest Elementary

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:
J. Landon Short Mini Grant for Educators, recipient, 2013
Cum Lade, University of Houston, 2010


Spring Branch Elementary 2014 Teacher of the Year - Noemi Gomez de Alonso

Noemi Gomez de Alonso
Spring Branch Elementary

Autonomous University of Guadalajara (Jalisco, Mexico) and Region 4 for Bilingual ACP Early Childhood (EC) to 4th Grade, 2007
Multiple courses at ITESM Technological of Monterrey Institute (Monterrey,NL, Mexico), Ciudad Juarez, 2003-2007
Jose E. Medrano Superior Teaching School (Chihuahua, Mexico) , Ciudad Juarez, Educational Sciences Diploma, 2003
UNAM Autonomous University of Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico), General Medicine, 1981
McHenry County College (Crystal Lake, Ill.) Associate Degree, 1975

Teaching History
Spring Branch Elementary, 2009-Present
Spring Branch Elementary, 2007-2009
Technological of Monterrey Institute (Monterrey,NL, Mexico), Ciudad Juarez ITESM, English at professional level; Biology and Health services at high school level,2003-2006                                                                                                                                                  UACJ Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua, Mexico) , School of Medicine, 2004-2006

10 years total of teaching experience

In her own words…

“Teachers are role models for what we do, for what we say, for how we listen, for how we conduct ourselves. Alone or along with parents, the future of a child, a group of children, a generation of children, generations of students, is in our hands…It is an honor and a responsibility to be a teacher.”

In the words of others . . .

“Many teachers just teach what they can in class and tutor if the school requires it. Not Mrs. Gomez. On a regular basis, she will take the time to tutor students who need it after school in her classroom. She takes a step further by teaching the parents as well.”
Juanita Irwin, Music Specialist, Spring Branch Elementary

Selected Honors, Awards & Activities:
Pre-Kindergarten Team Leader, Spring Branch Elementary, 2012-2013

Teacher of the Year Nominee, Spring Branch Elementary, 2007


Spring Branch ISD