- Gerard Elementary
2022 CISD Campus Teachers of the Year Announced
Coinciding with the observance of National Teacher Appreciation Week is the celebration of 12 CISD educators being honored as 2021-2022 Campus Teachers of the Year.
At the elementary level, the honorees are Rebecca Hurt- Adams; Sarah Sims-Coleman; Chrystal Rector-C.C. Cooke; Tama Click-Gerard; Glynis Oliver-Irving; Mary Hollars-Marti and Katherine Koscielniak-Santa Fe.
Secondary Campus Teachers of the Year include Julie Mahaffey-Smith Middle School; Anahi Villanueva-Wheat Middle School; Katie Arellano-Cleburne High School; Marcy Funderburk-TEAM School and Donna Scholz-Phoenix.
“We always look forward to this opportunity to recognize our schools’ Teachers of the Year, who have been chosen by their fellow teachers and co-workers for their commitment to students and excellence in the classroom, the professionalism they display 24/7 and their contributions to the success at their campus,” Dr. Andrea Hensley, assistant superintendent of Human Resources said. “Many of these honorees have been educators for some time, while others are new to the profession. What they have in common is their desire and effort to help every student in their care grow in learning, while also letting them know how much they matter. These teachers love what they do—this is their life’s calling.”
Hurt, who teaches fifth grade math, is finishing her fourth year in elementary education—and her first year at Adams.
“As teachers, while we don’t have to take on everything, it is important we address the small things—with purpose,” Hurt said. “Do the small things to let your students know they are seen and heard. Show up—and give a handshake or a hug. Offer an encouraging word or a heartfelt compliment. Give students opportunities to build relationships with you and each other. Just one small thing can make the biggest difference.”
Sims is celebrating her tenth year in education—all spent at Coleman, where she currently teaches third grade math and science.
“I grew up in a family of teachers, which inspired me to become a teacher,” Sims said. “I spent many early mornings, and after school, in my mother’s classroom watching her at work with students and preparing for the next day of instruction. That served as an inspiration. I began tutoring younger students while I was still a student myself, because I truly enjoy helping others. I’m also dedicated to serving as a mentor at my campus to teachers starting out in our profession.”
Rector began her career in education in 2018 as a substitute teacher, followed by two years as a Special Education Inclusion aide. In 2021, she was honored as C.C. Cooke’s Paraprofessional of the Year. One year later—and a first grade teacher--she has been chosen by her teammates as their educator of the year.
“I am so excited to be experiencing my dream of helping young children develop as readers and writers,” she said. “I am proud to say that my first grade students, who all began the year writing on a kindergarten level, are now almost all at a second grade writing level. There were moments it seemed impossible to get them where they needed to be, in taking that next step in their education journey. In my first year as a teacher, my students have shown me that what may seem like the impossible at times is possible. You just need the patience and desire to want to help--and sometimes push--your students to get there. You must excite and encourage them to take ownership of their learning to achieve extraordinary accomplishments. You must believe in your students so they can believe in themselves.”
This is the third occasion for Click, who has taught at Adams and Gerard, to be honored by her campus peers as educator of the year. She has spent 20 years in the elementary classroom, but this year she is inspiring students in the subject area that led her to teaching—physical education. A standout in Lady Jackets Basketball at Cleburne High School, Click’s classroom is now the gym as Gerard’s “new” PE teacher. Click chose to become a teacher because of the influence of her greatest hero—her mother—who died suddenly from heart disease while Tama was still in high school. She chose to pursue a college degree in exercise science, with plans of becoming a PE teacher.
“I loved my 20 years spent teaching elementary students in the core subject areas,” Click said. “Those experiences were invaluable in giving me the solid foundation to build student relationships, analyze academic, social and emotional needs, design engaging lesson plans and disaggregate data to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in helping all my students achieve success. When given the chance to mix my love of activity with my zeal for educating elementary students—I jumped at it.”
“Now, my focus is designing and implementing targeted, fun activities to strengthen students’ physical fitness, health, social skills and self-esteem,” Click said. “There is no better way to honor the legacy of my mother, than to promote physical activity and give students the keys to develop a lifetime habit of health and wellness.”
Oliver is among CISD’s teaching veterans, with 34 years in education. She works with second grade Tigers at Irving and has taught students in grades 1-8 during her career.
“I am surprised and honored to be Irving’s Teacher of the Year,” she said. “I decided in third grade that I wanted to become a teacher and I never wavered. When it was time to declare a major in college, education was the only option. I have loved every moment.”
Hollars has been a member of the Marti faculty since 2013, where she spent her first year as a long-term substitute, before being employed as a second grade teacher in 2014. She has also taught third grade and has been a fifth grade science teacher since 2019. Hollars is also her grade level’s team leader. She has been recognized as the CISD High Point Technology Elementary Teacher for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 school years, for her achievements in mastering numerous instructional technology programs to enhance student engagement and classroom curriculum.
“Through these learning opportunities, I have realized my passion for technology use in the classroom,” she said. “I am currently working on a master’s degree in education technology and several related certifications. I believe in fostering positive relationships with students and actively engaging them in collaborative learning. I believe this allows students to take ownership of their learning and deepen their understanding of the concepts being studied.”
Koscielniak has taught for seven years—three at Santa Fe where she is a Life Skills teacher, working with students in all grade levels. She also serves as a fourth grade inclusion teacher.
“I have been an educator since 2015,” she said. “As a member of First United Methodist Church, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Santa Fe and fell in love with their Like Skills class. I decided, as a teacher, that was where I needed to be so I studied and received my Special Education supplemental certification. I have grown in my skills this year in serving as an inclusion teacher in addition to my work with Life Skills students. While this expanded teaching opportunity took me out of my comfort zone, it added to my skills as an educator in giving me what I believe is the best way to help students, in providing a collaborative learning environment.”
Mahaffey, who is among the CISD secondary campus honorees, teaches eighth grade reading language arts at Smith.
“I strive to make sure that every student understands the relevance of the lessons I present as they relate to their future needs,” she said. “I want them to see that value as middle school learners. I also try to entice them with good books, despite being in an age when students have so many distractions competing for their attention.”
Villanueva has been a member of the Wheat Middle School staff since 2017, serving as a sixth grade science and reading teacher. Currently she works with students in advanced science and is also science department chair and English as a Second Language lead specialist.
She began her career in Cleburne ISD in 2005 as an elementary classroom paraprofessional, working alongside teachers in assisting with instruction and student engagement.
“I loved it,” Villanueva said. “Then one year, I was asked to move up to middle school. I admit I was confused and shocked—I liked what I was doing at the elementary level. But my principal said, ‘Anahi, you need to broaden your horizons. I see you achieving and doing much more.’”
“At Wheat, I began working with our Emergent Bilingual students and before we knew it, we had an upgoing, successful after-school tutorial program,” Villanueva said. “I am very passionate about Emergent Bilinguals—because I am an EB for life. I was so proud of the students that took advantage of those tutoring sessions, and I know their parents felt the support and love displayed for their students. This year has been wonderful, as an educator, as I have been given the chance to work with students in science and ESL—my two passions.”
Arellano is celebrating her tenth year of inspiring young minds, with every year spent at CHS. She currently teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages and English Language Development and Acquisition. She is also chairman of the English Department and is an Emerging Bilingual Specialist. She was honored as the CHS Teacher of the Year and CISD Secondary Teacher of the Year in 2016. Arellano was presented with the CISD Secondary Language Master Teacher Award in 2021.
One of her most impactful moments as a teacher was her involvement in what would become a successful initiative to improve ninth grade reading skills, through the implementation of the Read 180 program in the fall of 2016.
“I was on the ground floor as a member of a team researching, then presenting, the Read 180 program to our board of trustees in seeking approval for its use at our campus,” Arellano said. “I was then asked to spearhead its instruction. It was a total learning curve for me. With that appointment came additional roles as a reading specialist and a Dyslexia specialist for my campus. I learned so much—and loved every minute. I saw my students blossom in knowledge and confidence.”
“For three years, I taught our Read 180 sections, and each year our student data improved,” she said. “We now utilize Read 180 with our middle school students. This experience showed me the power teachers truly have when we advocate for our students’ needs.”
Funderburk, in her first year at TEAM School, is being honored by the staff as their outstanding educator for 2022. In a year viewed as one of the most challenging in the teaching profession—nationwide—due to the ongoing impact of COVID, Funderburk is passionate about the important role teachers provide in the lives of their students.
“There are so many things we, as teachers, get from our profession that can’t be experienced in other settings,” she said. “Every single student in our classroom, even the ones hardest to reach, is a life. Each one is a person with hopes and dreams and needs that are often not being met in other places. We have a responsibility, and a privilege, to be the good for so many of our students. We can be the light that guides them away from the dark. In a society that is so quick to find the difficulty and the challenge, teachers have an opportunity to rise above and help shape tomorrow.”
This is the third time Scholz has been honored by her campus peers as an outstanding educator. She serves as the math teacher at Cleburne’s Phoenix campus, working with secondary students.
“I love my job,” she said. “I get to teach many areas of math, as I am working with students from grades 6-12. Like my fellow educators, utilizing Capturing Kids’ Hearts is valuable to my classroom environment. Since students are at Phoenix for a specified period before they return to their home campus, I am continually welcoming new faces. Every day, I greet my students as they come in the door. I value the opportunity to get to know my students and enjoy establishing a relationship with each one.”
These CISD campus educators will be recognized by trustees at the May 16 school board, at which time the 2022 Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year will be announced. Those two candidates will go on to represent Cleburne in the Region 11 educator of the year competition, as honorees in the Texas TOY selection process.