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Spring ISD Announces the 2018-19 Rookie Teachers of the Year

HOUSTON – March 6, 2019 – One of the top qualities of being a teacher is the strong relationships created with their students. That sentiment is what Spring High School French teacher Adrian Rodriguez Camarillo shared with a group of first-year teachers recognized at the Spring ISD Rookie Teachers of the Year celebration on Tuesday.

“Everyone in this room has been a first time teacher, so we all know the struggles and a few things that are thrown at us as new teachers,” said Rodriguez Camarillo, a district Rookie Teacher of the Year from 2017-18. “It’s a great thing to be named by administrators and your respective school. We all have, at one point, felt that our work was either not acknowledged or was taken for granted, but that is not the case.”

During the event held at the Spring ISD Learning Center, Rodriguez Camarillo described to the group of 30 campus Rookie Teachers of the Year his personal challenges and rewards of first-year teaching. He said that while it is great being acknowledged by administrators, what keeps him going every day is seeing his students succeed.

“I would like to thank Spring ISD for all of their encouragement and support in the multilingual department, because it’s really great to work in a district where you are encouraged to do your best, and where you are helped and supported,” said Rodriguez Camarillo. “I know that Spring ISD listens to our concerns and that they care so much about us. They want us to come back next year and have students who succeed.”

The latest group of rookie teachers were selected by their principals for their ability to inspire and persevere during what is considered the hardest year in a teaching career. In May, two teachers will be chosen as the district’s top rookie teachers.

The event featured personal stories from staff throughout the district, including Human Capital and Accountability Officer Dr. Tameka Bruce, who encouraged every first year teacher not to give up.

“It gets tough, and no one stands before you to say that it doesn’t,” said Bruce. “Teaching is a calling, and I always tell people it takes a special kind of person to go into teaching because the heart of compassion can never grow small. You have to have the ability to keep pressing forward no matter what you encounter.”

Jo‘NeQui’A Powers, a new sixth-grade math teacher at Roberson Middle School, described her first year as “adventurous.”

“Overall, this has been the greatest experience of my life,” said Powers. “A lot of people don’t know that I failed my teaching certification four times, so I used that to push my students every day. I want them to understand it’s okay to make mistakes, but at the end of the day, you have to keep on pushing.”

Claughton Middle School rookie science teacher Lovenia Stamps shared her personal journey and says this has been a growth year as a first year teacher.

“The support that I have from my campus, principal and science team is really important, and that is what motivates me to keep going,” Stamps said. “Being recognized at something that I thought I wasn’t doing well at – that’s one thing about your first year. You feel as if you aren’t doing enough.”

Stamps also credited building relationships with students as one of the reasons she has decided to stick with teaching in the district for the long run.

“It’s a calling, and teaching is more than just teaching kids inside of the classroom,” Stamps said. “It’s about you getting to know them and stepping out of your comfort zone. If you have those relationships, you can teach and they will listen. It’s about understanding that kids are human too – they go through stuff just like us.”

Secondary 2018-19 Rookie Teachers of the Year:

  • Jessica Cunningham, Dekaney High School
  • David Griffin, Spring High School
  • Ryland Francis, Westfield High School
  • Steven Herbert, Carl Wunsche Sr. High School
  • Charles Fisk, Bailey Middle School
  • Matthew Griesmyer, Bammel Middle School
  • Lovenia Stamps, Claughton Middle School
  • Crystal Manuel, Dueitt Middle School
  • Jo‘NeQui’A Powers, Roberson Middle School
  • Latrina Montgomery, Twin Creeks Middle School
  • Anna Mayfield, Wells Middle School

Elementary 2018-19 Rookie Teachers of the Year:

  • Marisa Machado, Anderson Elementary School
  • Neelam Poonawalla, Bammel Elementary School
  • Nayeli Aguilar, Beneke Elementary School
  • Chaterica Wilson, Clark Intermediate School
  • Brooke McClinton, Clark Primary School
  • Caitlyn Cramer, Cooper Elementary School
  • Shaqwasha Barnes, Heritage Elementary School
  • Samuel Castilow, Hirsch Elementary School
  • Cailynn Joseph, Hoyland Elementary School
  • Megan Hoffpauir, Jenkins Elementary School
  • Matthew Dean, Lewis Elementary School
  • Lan Hoang, Link Elementary School
  • Cheri Wilson, Meyer Elementary School
  • Jordan Cervas, Northgate Crossing Elementary School
  • Rosemary Suarez, Ponderosa Elementary School
  • Sherell Gransberry, Reynolds Elementary School
  • Emily Higgins, Salyers Elementary School
  • Dario Estrada, Thompson Elementary School
  • John McCloud, Winship Elementary School