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ATPE Members Named H-E-B Excellence in Education Finalists

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 4/22/2024

At the end of March, H-E-B announced the 50 finalists for its 2024 Excellence in Education Awards, and the list includes seven ATPE members!

Teacher finalists received $1,000 checks for themselves and their schools; counselors received both $1,000 personally and $1,500 for their schools; and principals received both an individual $1,000 and a $2,500 check for their schools.

Finalists are invited to a May 5 event in Houston where the winners of the state-level competition will be announced. H-E-B will name 10 overall educator winners, including six teachers, two counselors, and two principals, as well as recognize two school districts (one large and one small), a public school board of trustees, and an early childhood facility. In total, H-E-B will award $480,000 in funding.

ATPE members were recognized as finalists in the following award categories:

  • The Rising Star Award honors promising teachers with less than 10 years of experience. Winners will receive a $5,000 check and a $5,000 grant for their school.
  • The Leadership Award honors teachers with 10–20 years of experience. The winners will receive a $10,000 check and a $10,000 grant for their school.
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award honors teachers with more than 20 years of experience. The winners will receive a $25,000 check and a $25,000 grant for their school.

Meet the ATPE members who are H-E-B Excellence in Education Finalists:

Christi Byerly – Mary Branch Elementary, Bryan ISD (Lifetime Achievement Elementary)

“Being named a finalist has been completely overwhelming! Having so many of my former students reach out to me to tell me I am so deserving has warmed my heart and made me feel so valued as a professional educator! I have always worked to make a difference, and hearing so many people tell me how I was the best teacher he/she ever had has been incredible! I am so proud and honored to represent every student I have ever taught because each student has made me the teacher I am today! I love being a teacher, and I am very thankful to be honored as a finalist for such a prestigious award!”

Michelle Cavazos – Blanca E. Sanchez Elementary, McAllen ISD (Rising Star Elementary)

“Being named an H-E-B Excellence in Education finalist means to me the epitome of all my endeavors and dedication to my teaching career. As a first-generation Mexican American female who grew up economically disadvantaged, I always looked up to my teachers and took advantage of the power to become educated. Education is imperative to make historical and revolutionary change in our society. Becoming a bilingual teacher enabled me to serve linguistically diverse students and be at the forefront of their academic and mental growth. This ignites in me the passion to continue making a positive change with our children and future generations. Therefore, becoming a finalist means to me the graceful, humble, and wonderful recognition of what God has gifted me with: to teach and continue advocating toward equitable education to ALL.”

Gloria Cortez – Samuel L. Martin Middle School, Austin ISD (Lifetime Achievement Secondary)

“The response I have gotten from my students has brought me so much happiness. They tell me that they are proud that I am being recognized. It is an honor to be named one of the finalists for this year’s Excellence in Education Awards. I am especially impressed as I am finding out just how much the Holdsworth Foundation does to inspire Texas educators and our community. I have always been a big fan of H-E-B and all that the company does for Texans. I congratulate the Holdsworth Foundation and H-E-B on their dedication to education and thank them for this opportunity.”

Melanie Gohn – Fabra Elementary, Boerne ISD (Lifetime Achievement Elementary)

“I am truly honored and humbled by being named a finalist in H-E-B’s Excellence in Education awards. It’s cliche to say, but it’s true that I was honored to be nominated in the first place! I would love to know who nominated me, so I can express my gratitude to them! As educators, we are passionate about what we do daily and are dedicated cheerleaders for our students. So sometimes it’s hard to let others cheer for us. However, I will always remember and cherish this tremendous moment in my career. A million thanks go to H-E-B for recognizing our hard work and dedication and celebrating us in such an incredibly special way.”

Catherine Jackson – Carthage High School, Carthage ISD (Lifetime Achievement Secondary)

“I feel honored and empowered. I feel honored because I haven’t let the torch lit by (my former teacher) Theresa Smith down. I’ve kept it true to my heart, and over the past 25 plus years, I have made sure to keep it lit to help guide those that can’t see the light within their own darkness (whatever that may be), and this recognition fuels me to keep doing it. Despite whatever I’m dealt with in my own life, I feel empowered to keep helping young people see through and beyond dark moments or situations that may be clouding their view. I am empowered to help young people see that single moments or circumstances can never define us. We do that. We define who we are. I feel blessed to have the chance and the opportunity to continue doing so day after day. This achievement motivates me to do more. As repetitive as it may seem, I feel empowered and blessed.”

Veronica Stapper – Glenmore Elementary, San Angelo ISD (Lifetime Achievement Elementary)

“I feel so honored to be a finalist in H-E-B’s Excellence in Education Award program. Teaching has been my passion for 30 years and changing lives has been my goal. I love helping others, inspiring young minds, and giving back to my community and state. I’m thankful to H-E-B for honoring teachers and for supporting public education and love how they support communities in so many ways. I’ve always wanted to give back to my school and this award has helped me achieve that goal. What an honor this is to be selected for such an amazing award! I will be forever grateful!”

Stephanie Stoebe – Teravista Elementary, Round Rock ISD (Leadership Elementary)

“Being a finalist in the Leadership Category for the H-E-B Excellence in Education Award is empowering; I feel as if I have been heard. Over the years, I’ve learned to use my teacher voice to help improve Texas public education. I’m honored that H-E-B takes the time to not only listen, but to honor those who seek to lead.”