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Spring ISD Announces the 2017-18 Rookie Teachers of the Year

HOUSTON – March 6, 2018 – Experience is the best teacher, especially when your first year as a new teacher is safely behind you. Just ask Brooke Haynes, who remembered feeling lost and out of control on her first day in a Spring ISD classroom in 2016.

“There is not enough training or student teaching to prepare you,” said Haynes, a district Rookie Teacher of the Year from 2016-17. “I felt like I was running around like crazy trying to make it look like I had it all together.”

Her story drew a lot of laughter and affirmation on Tuesday from the latest batch of campus Rookie Teachers of the Year, selected by their principals for their ability to inspire and persevere during what everyone agrees is the hardest year in a teaching career. In May, two of the 32 campus Rookie Teachers of the Year will be chosen as the district’s top rookie teachers.

The event at the Spring ISD learning center featured recollections from others who have been there, including Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson, who reminisced about his excitement in the classroom, even as his students pulled at his tie.  He took inspiration from his own mother, who spent 42 years as a teacher and champion for her students.

“Never forget the experience that you have now,” Watson said. “Don’t forget the reason you chose this profession in the first place.”

Jocelyn Taylor, a new sixth-grade math teacher at Claughton, hasn’t had any regrets so far. She described her first year as anything but boring. “Something new happens every day,” she said. For her, the biggest surprise has actually been seeing her students learn and grow. Her principal De’Monica Amerson says she’s knocking it out of the park.

“She’s teaching her students how to think,” she said. “That’s what makes an excellent teacher.”

Connecting with students and seeing the figurative light bulbs go on is one of the reasons Karisma Caicedo-Battles decided to trade in her accounting career for teaching. At 26, she’s glad she’s found her purpose, teaching fifth-graders at Northgate Crossing Elementary.

“It’s not just a 7:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. job,” she said. “We’re there for everything.”

Kristi Brown, the principal at Northgate Crossing Elementary, described Caicedo-Battles as a natural. “She’s creative with her teaching and coming up with ways for her students to learn,” she said. “She meets all of their learning styles and makes learning fun.”

Just as important as making it through a rookie teaching year is deciding to come back. Casilya Smith, a 2016-17 district Rookie Teacher of the Year from Roberson Middle School, encouraged all the new teachers in the audience to stick with it, no matter the challenges.

“They need us,” she said of the students. “They need a cheerleader. We have the power to change lives.”

Secondary 2017-18 Rookie Teachers of the Year:

  • Clementina Lawani, Dekaney High School
  • Adrian Rodriguez Camarillo, Spring High School
  • Megan McHugh, Westfield High School
  • Amber Mahana, Carl Wunsche Sr. High School
  • Aleita Whitaker, Bailey Middle School
  • Carmycia Quinsey (McDaniel), Bammel Middle School
  • Jocelyn Taylor, Claughton Middle School
  • Katherine Sands, Dueitt Middle School
  • Jonathan Thomas, Roberson Middle School
  • J. C. Miceli, Twin Creeks Middle School
  • Brenda Cantu, Wells Middle School

Elementary 2017-18 Rookie Teachers of the Year:

  • Nicole McGhee, Anderson Elementary School
  • Elizabeth Stockwell, Bammel Elementary School
  • Jessie Johnson, Beneke Elementary School
  • Regina Davis, Booker Elementary School
  • Melissa Carr, Burchett Elementary School
  • Ruth Detter, Clark Intermediate School
  • Theresa Fuller, Cooper Elementary School
  • Alexia Perry, Eickenroht Elementary School
  • Jermaine Boone, Heritage Elementary School
  • Shazin Bhimani, Hirsch Elementary School
  • Chelsea Shafer, Jenkins Elementary School
  • Jared Lee, Link Elementary School
  • Latisha May, Major Elementary School
  • Sabrina Manning, Marshall Elementary School
  • Larissa Patton, Meyer Elementary School
  • Karisma Caicedo-Battles, Northgate Crossing Elementary School
  • Jamespaul Bryant, Ponderosa Elementary School
  • Jene Patterson, Salyers Elementary School
  • Jessica Eatman, Smith Elementary School
  • Jonisa Lindsay, Thompson Elementary School
  • Jake Chapa Jr., Winship Elementary School