Goose Creek CISD honored “World Class Retirees and Teachers of the Year” at a recent gala at Ross S. Sterling High School. 

Participating retirees, presented with a plaque and a clock by Al Richard, president of the GCCISD board of trustees and Randal O’Brien, superintendent, were John Brokaw, Alamo Elementary, 21 years in GCCISD and 30 years in education; Camille Burt, Baytown Junior School, 34 years in GCCISD and 38 years in education; Tina Burton, Deaf Education/Robert E. Lee High School, 22 years with GCCISD; Nicelina Camarillo, Special Education Department/bilingual diagnostician, 26 years in GCCISD and 29 years in education; Veronica “Cutie” Edwards, Travis Elementary, 33 years in GCCISD and Francisca Gonzalez, Cedar Bayou Junior School, 16 years in GCCISD.

Also honored were retirees Susan Griffin, Clark Elementary, 34 years in education, all in GCCISD; Dr. Tom Kelchner, Special Education Department, eight years in GCCIS and 33 years in education; David LaGrange, Baytown Junior School, 16 years in GCCISD and 23 years in education; Melissa Marr, Cedar Bayou Junior School, 24 years in GCCISD and 33 years in education; Verlene Masters, Baytown Junior School, 20 years in GCCISD and 33 years in education; Ana Mendez, De Zavala Elementary, 23 years in GCCISD; Ruth Oxford, Robert E. Lee High School, 28 years in GCCISD and 32 years in education; Loretta Salazar, Hopper Primary, 38 years in education, all in GCCISD and Laura Smith, Stephen F. Austin Elementary, 35 years in education, all in GCCISD.

After the presentation, a video by Carrie Pryor-Newman featuring the retirees was shown. The group represents a wide range of departments, schools and facilities important to the operation of the district, and the retirees had a combined total of 378 years of service to Goose Creek CISD. 

During the Teacher of the Year celebration, Kimberly Smith, Special Education math teacher from Baytown Junior School, was honored as the James Becker Thomson Special Education Teacher of the Year by her principal Matt Bolinger. Wendy Madrid from Carver Elementary was recognized as the Houston Area Association for Bilingual Educators (HAABE) Bilingual District Teacher of the Year. Laraina Hunt from Baytown Junior was recognized as the HAABE ESL District Teacher of the Year as well as the ESL Secondary HAABE Teacher of the Year for the Houston Area. She will advance to the state competition.

Richard and O’Brien presented plaques to the Campus Teachers of the Year for elementary schools: Mariana Balanzategui-Bailey from Alamo Elementary, Clark Haney from Stephen F. Austin Elementary, Tailis Oniwon from Dr. Antonio Bañuelos Elementary, Jennifer Wood from James Bowie Elementary, Sergio Valdes from Carver Elementary, Christine Miller from Crockett Elementary, Erin LeBrock from De Zavala Elementary, Maghen Orebo from Harlem Elementary, Bonnie Hogue from Highlands Elementary, Kayla Moss Johnson from Hopper Primary, Stavroula (Stacey) Dreaden from Lamar Elementary, Mirsha Perez from San Jacinto Elementary, Ann Seawright from Ashbel -Smith Elementary , Sheryl Shepherd from Travis Elementary and Tamie Land from Victoria Walker Elementary. Kyra Forehand accepted the award for her mother Debra Forehand, Teacher of the Year for Dr. Johnny T. Clark, Jr. Elementary, who died this year.

Teachers of the Year from secondary campuses are Mandie Beam from Baytown Junior, Lacy White from Cedar Bayou Junior, Richard Hamilton from Gentry Junior, Alexsia Shankle from Highlands Junior, Trudy Alcazar from Horace Mann Junior, Brenda Holt from Peter E. Hyland Center, Rachel Jarreau from IMPACT Early College High School, Dr. Brian Walenta from Robert E. Lee High School, Deborah Turner from Goose Creek Memorial High School, Janette Williams-Grogan from POINT Alternative Center, Kelley Start form Ross S. Sterling High School and Tina Andrade from Stuart Career Center.

The highlight of the evening was the revealing of the District Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year. Tailis Oniwon, third grade teacher at Dr. Antonio Bañuelos, was named Elementary Teacher of the Year. Dr. Brian Walenta, U.S. History (regular and AP) teacher at Robert E. Lee High School received the award for Secondary Teacher of the Year. They will advance to the Region 4 Teacher of the Year contest. Macie Schubert from Community Resource Credit Union, a long-time special partner in education to Goose Creek CISD, presented Oniwon and Walenta with iPads. CRCU also sponsored the programs for the celebration.

“You all work wonders every day in our district, and you mean the world to us. Those who are retiring will be missed, and those teachers who are being honored for excellence will certainly continue to be a class act, making a difference in the lives of our students,” O’Brien said.

Following the presentation, a reception was held in the RSS Commons.


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