information for the community

superintendent's awards | December 2013

Dr. Brian G. Gottardy recognized 102 staff members, students and community members for their devotion, ingenuity and initiative for NEISD during the Dec. 10, 2013 Superintendent's Award ceremony.


Emily Niles

Emily is a true leader at Coker Elementary. In addition to all the extra hours she spends preparing for her classroom, she also volunteered to be on two very important teams -– The Lighthouse Team and the Positive Behavior Support team. Both require a lot of “after hours” commitment. She is not just a member of the PBS team though. She also facilitates the meetings, sends reminders to members of upcoming activities, communicates with administration keeping them in the loop of what the team is doing, and works with the school secretary to purchase items the team needs.


Carol Arnold (no picture)

Carol is currently involved in various clubs and organizations at Lee High School. She volunteers every Monday after school teaching a Yoga class open to all faculty and students. She is involved in Critical Friends Group, an organization designed to involve parents and teachers. She is part of the Field Trip Club and Model United Nations team. She is also involved in NEISD World Languages Cohort I, in which she challenges herself as well as other students to learn strategies for her students to become fluent in Spanish. She dedicates her Saturdays to helping out students earn hours by being part of Saturday Success School. She individually tutors each student. One of her most recent accomplishments was updating the World Language Lab at Lee. In 2010, she took on the endeavor of creating a computer lab for all World Language department teachers to use with their classes, in order to promote interactive learning in a foreign language class. This year, with support from the administration, she was able to acquire 20 Mac Notebook computers and update the World Language Lab with 2013 technology.

Antonio Onofre
Gilbert Contreras

Wood Middle School custodians Tony and Gilbert go above and beyond in so many ways to help serve their campus. They go out of their way when someone has a birthday. A number of staff members have received a plant or flowers just to brighten their day. If someone is having a bad day, both Gilbert and Tony stop what they are doing to offer kind words or an ear to listen. One day a student dropped her cell phone into a drainage grate. The student was so distraught but Gilbert assured her he would get it, and he did. He made a handmade tool and lowered it into 6-foot ditch to retrieve the cell phone, much to the relief of the student. Quite often, Tony will volunteer to stay late or work on a Saturday if there is a function taking place at school, to make sure that the people in his department are able to take time off with their family. When asked about having to stay, his comment is always the same, “I don’t mind, as long as I know my people are able to rest on the weekends.” No matter what the request is, they are always happy to help. They will come by to hang pictures, rearrange an office, or just to stop by to see if you need anything. They’ve even been seen changing flat tires or offering assistance when a car battery has died. They are truly loved by both students and staff.


Adrienne Long

Adrienne is always available to listen to concerns and guide teachers at Coker Elementary. She spends countless hours with teachers and students as an Instructional Interventionist. She tutors before school, and has children every minute of the day to the point of not having lunch sometimes. She takes on duties and trainings that are not part of her responsibilities as an IIT. Because of Adrienne, more kids are successful on testing and increase their reading level by a whole year sometimes in a very short amount of time. She is a key part of the reading success at Coker.


Henry “Russ” Griffith

When most educators pack up to take a well-deserved rest on Friday afternoon, two times a month Russ Griffith stays late to allow students to hang out, have fun, and build a sense of community at Wood Middle School with the school’s Skate Club. His desire to see kids feel accepted and then be able to use those positive relationships to help students succeed in the classroom is his motivation. More than a dozen students can be found every other Friday behind the portables. He not only gives his time but his money as well. He has given away boards, bought helmets, and recently built a couple boxes with rails so the kids can do tricks. This idea spawned a few years ago when Wood had an extra period that teachers could use to form clubs. As funding ebbed and scheduling changed, these clubs all but disappeared. Russ was one of the few, if not the only one, who kept his club and vision alive.


Stacy Blatter, Marilu Ramey, Darcy Knouse

On Oct. 26, students at Tejeda Middle School came together to celebrate National Make a Difference Day. These counselors made sure that all projects ran simultaneously and smoothly on that day. In the main gym, students, parents and staff worked in harmony and packaged more than 30,000 meals for needy families in Mexico through Kids Against Hunger and Daily Bread Ministries. In the school’s back foyer, students collected personal hygiene items for people in need. And finally, teachers and students cleaned up yards in the community neighborhood for families in need of this service. For two months, Stacy planned and communicated between Daily Bread Ministries and multiple student organizations on campus, other outside businesses, as well as the school’s leadership team to make this event such a huge success. Marilu coordinated the electronic volunteer sign up rosters through the campus website, and Darcy worked side by side with Marilu and Stacy, volunteering many hours of her time to ensure the success of this campus-wide event. 199 students participated in this day of service, and contributed more than 500 hours collectively.


Monica Paz Marin, Sandra Ortiz

Both Monica and Sandy have gone above and beyond the call of their job duties recently at Serna. The school’ Fall Carnival was approaching and there were many important jobs left undone. These wonderful women took it upon themselves to ensure that the carnival went on without fail for the students and community at Serna. They gave countless hours of their time, organized committees, shopped, decorated and everything in between and were able to put on a carnival second to none. The school could not have had the carnival without their help.


Sara Magnusson (not pictured)

When Sara retired last year, after many years of teaching kindergarten, nobody in the Redland Oaks Elementary community expected to see her at school as much as when she was teaching. In fact, she is at school so much of the time that many parents thought she had simply changed assignments and not retired at all. Over the summer, Sarah volunteered to be on the Redland Oaks PTA executive board and attended evening planning meetings. During August in-service she worked tirelessly on many school bulletin boards and totally cleaned out and decorated the art classroom. She has continued to be at school almost daily, helping teachers, parents and students. As a result, she has significantly improved the art program at Redland Oaks. Her passion for art, and art appreciation, has made such a difference to the school’s young learners.


Reagan Beres

Reagan Beres sponsors the MacArthur Skateboard Club and coordinated the efforts of her students, Will Flores (an NEISD graduate and X Games competitor), art teachers, and UTSA's institute of Texan Cultures to prepare artwork, pictures, videos, and information for the “Ramp it Up Texas Style” exhibit that is running as an addendum to the Smithsonian's traveling exhibit that focuses on the history of Native American skateboarding and surfing. Her hard work has helped to showcase NEISD students through their art, pictures, writing and skateboarding. The exhibit has been so successful that it will now be showcased throughout the state of Texas.


Sally Bolster

Sally was a great friend to NEISD. She served on several Citizen Bond Advisory Committees that oversaw the district’s bond projects, and she was a member of one of our first Leadership North East classes. She also taught adult education classes here in this building with the ALIR program (Adult Learning in Retirement.) She spent her life serving others as an elected official, activist and dedicated community servant. Even in her retirement, she worked to advocate for voter rights, higher education and the students of NEISD. We are forever indebted to Sally and her family for the legacy she has left behind.


Hunter Heinsohn

Reagan High School has a new theme this year: "Responsibility, Relationship, Results. Principal Brenda Shelton has asked students to take the responsibility to keep the campus looking clean and orderly. On Friday, Oct. 25, Mrs. Shelton observed Hunter picking up trash in the area outside the cafeteria. His arms were full and he continued to take time to get the area clean. This is a prime example of a student carrying out the theme of the year. He took pride in the Reagan campus appearance and was dedicated to carrying out the mission of the school. His positive attitude and actions are an example other Reagan students can follow.


Matthew Austin Billman

In a three-week period of time, Matthew Billman, a senior at the Design and Technology Academy student at Roosevelt High School, created a five-minute video illustrating why the school was named after Theodore Roosevelt. This video will be used an introduction for all students attending Roosevelt. Matthew conducted extensive research and created a very captivating video on his own time. Matthew's acumen with literary research, media production software, and his capacity to speak to a youthful audience made this video uniquely successful. Matthew is an ideal example of how our students internalize the learning opportunities of our distinctive program and transform these skills and knowledge into a tangible relevant product for the larger community.


Austin Flynn

Austin Flynn is a sophomore at Roosevelt High School in the DATA program. While all DATA students must complete 30 service hours each year of high school, Austin went far beyond this summer by completing 100 service hours in just a two-week period. Every summer, teachers must dismantle their computers so they can be moved into the hallways so classrooms can be stripped and waxed. This also includes computer labs. Austin helped to replace each computer in the computer labs. He also helped to reattach all the wires and verify each machine was booting properly. The following week was teacher in service and Austin was available to help individual teachers reconnect their computers and make sure they worked properly. Additionally, three days prior to school starting, new computers were delivered to Lopez Middle School. They did not come preloaded with some of the software they needed. Austin helped deploy and test this software so the computer labs were ready for day one of the new school year. Because of Austin's willingness to over-donate his time he made it easier for the classroom teachers to focus on preparing lessons and their classrooms. Campus technology staff was also grateful for Austin's help - as this saved them approximately 30 hours of separate work they would have had to do by themselves.


Daniel Altamira

Daniel is a 10-year-old student who is new to Oak Grove Elementary this year. He is a very sweet boy who is always striving to please and assist others. One day, Daniel was quietly eating his lunch when he realized one of his classmates was choking. He raised his hand to ask for assistance, but when he was unable to get help, he stood up, walked over to the counselor and alerted her to the problem. He said it was an emergency and his friend was choking. The entire time he remained calm and patiently waited for someone to come over and help. After the adult assisted the student, he ran to the nurse's office, and brought her back to the cafeteria. Without Daniel, the situation could have taken a very wrong turn. When Daniel was thanked for his act of courage, he replied by saying he would do it for anyone.


Christopher Thompson

Christopher is a student at Madison High School. On Sept. 7, Chris’ father Steven suffered a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest. Chris responded immediately to his father's situation while his mother called 911. Chris recalled the CPR lessons he was taught in 7th and 9th grades and performed chest compressions on his father for approximately 25 minutes until EMS arrived. His father was pronounced dead at the hospital, however, he was successfully treated and is alive today because of Chris' quick response in a traumatic situation.


Adam Nettel

Last year, Adam Nettel, a student at Johnson High School and Boy Scout working towards his Eagle Scout rank, approached Canyon Ridge Principal Laura Huggins with a project proposal. After talking about several areas that could use his help, Adam chose to work in Golden's Garden. Golden's Garden is an area right outside the school’s library that is connected to the playground. The Garden was designed and dedicated to Mrs. Golden, a former librarian and to the memory of her late husband who passed away unexpectedly two years ago. The original plan was for this area to be sued for classroom lessons and a reading area for students. The garden area lost its initial beauty over the past few years. The walk became overgrown with weeds and the gravel was washed away during heavy rains. Adam proposed to. He organized a group of other scouts and dads to volunteer their weekend to complete the much-needed update. They refurbished the area with some new stone seating, large pots for students to maintain, stone edging and mulch He and his volunteers donated time, labor and materials to create a wonderful garden that students and staff can be proud of and use for a variety of instructional activities.


Alice Montoya, Sylvia Ann Juarez, Rocio Marquez, Joanie Willhoite

On Sept. 19, Oak Grove Elementary held a Welcome Back to School event at four area communities: LC Rutledge Apartments, The Terrance Apartments, Aguila Oaks and MacArthur Terrace Neighborhood. Teachers and staff brought cool treats for the children and parents, as well as distributed Open House information. These ladies opened the doors to their community centers to allow school staff to have a cool area to distribute popsicles to the children. Additionally, L.C. Rutledge Apartments has opened its community center for Oak Grove teachers to conduct Saturday tutoring. And Aguila Oaks offers after school care for the children who live in their apartments at a very low cost. This is the second year these communities have assisted with this back to school event and are a big part of their success.


Linda Martin, Jamie Lingsch, Diane Walcutt, Laura Dove, Carolyn King, Patty Bird

The Methodist Health Care System partnership is one NEISD cannot live without. Without their support, the district could not provide hundreds of students with clinical rotation sites. This group of Methodist employees coordinate times and locations for our students and provide students with multiple experiences in the healthcare field that cannot be simulated in a classroom. This partnership is provided free of charge by Methodist. There are many colleges that also use them for clinical sites and Methodist has always allowed space for our programs. We cannot thank this group enough for their hard work and support of NEISD students.


Elizabeth Anders, Dalia Madera, Brandon Gaston, Oscar Espinoza, John Rutkowski, Trish Rutkowski, Louis Broussard, Todd Thomas, Kelly Alonzo, Rachel Downey, Clark Harben, Vincent Wilson, Stephanie Kubanda, Adriana Duke, Tabitha Selvester, Diane Rhodes

On Oct 1, Health Night was organized for the Thousand Oaks Elementary community. These employees and volunteers from APEX Fun Run, Elite Care, YMCA Thousand Oaks, Costco, Any Baby Can and Mission Park Funeral Home spent many hours of their time gathering and creating information regarding healthy lifestyle choices and distributing that information to both students and parents. Each booth had different activities, giveaways and information. Approximately 350 people attended this very successful event.


Lisa Barger (no picture)

During peak times of the school year, the demands of her job as data processer at Tejeda Middle School keep her busier than others. Despite this, Lisa is always willing to assist with any task. She connects with faculty, parents and students. Last year, a boy wandered into the counseling office one morning, so Lisa naturally greeted him. Over the next few days, a pattern started to form. He started coming regularly and she became a mentor to him. One day, Lisa asked him about a book he was reading - The Hunger Games. Their conversation spurred her to read the book as well. Soon, they had each devoured all three books and were anxiously waiting for the Hunger Games to hit the big screen at the theatres. As a special surprise, Lisa bought him a movie ticket, and she was so excited to give it to him. This is a great example of a true mentoring relationship that was not set up, but naturally formed.


Andi Weaver

Andi Weaver is a volunteer at Roan Forest Elementary who provides tireless efforts to make the staff feel appreciated throughout the school year. She not only prepares fabulous cuisine from scratch for the entire staff, but she also coordinates additional food items from various other volunteers. She also transforms the faculty lounge into an oasis to relax and uplift everyone's spirits. She is always so pleasant and willing to go to great lengths to make the staff feel appreciated. It truly makes a difference for teachers who often don’t get the special treatment they deserve.


Christina Fong, Lisa Wood

Christina is an outstanding example of a teacher who will go above and beyond to make Serna Elementary a great place to learn and work. Lisa and Christina spent countless hours over the summer and on the weekends to paint the cafeteria, and update the look and feel of the school. Christina also keeps up the attendance wall on a weekly basis and is in the cafeteria monitoring students five days a week. Lisa helped to create a Veterans Wall for the school. They are true assets to the campus.


Maria De Leon

Maria is a long time parent at Thousand Oaks Elementary and knows that teachers often run out of school supplies during the year. At the beginning of the year, she donated three very large boxes of school supplies to our teachers for their classrooms. The supplies included markers, colored pencils and crayons, as well as wet wipes, binders, paper clips and some craft items. There were plenty to distribute among the teaching staff and the teachers were thrilled to receive these items. The items were placed out at a faculty meeting and all were gratefully picked up.


Jason Wilkinson

Dr. Wilkinson organized a school supply drive at his chiropractic office by asking his patients to bring in donations. Thousand Oaks Elementary was happily surprised when he donated them to their campus. Dr. Wilkinson delivered approximately five boxes full of paper, binders, folders, pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, erasers, colored pencils, glue sticks and backpacks. When counselors hear of students in need, they are able to give them all the supplies they need to be successful in school.


Alicia Castillo

Alicia, a new PTA parent volunteer at Harmony Hills, has quickly made a difference at school. As a fluent Spanish and English speaker, she has motivated many bilingual parents to volunteer. She has invested countless hours copying, laminating, and volunteering at special events and participating in parent education classes. Her energy is contagious and her passion is evident. Recently, she reached out to a refugee family by befriending them and having them over for dinner. But her compassion doesn’t stop there. She has committed herself to helping the family in many ways, such as bringing mom to adult ESL classes and tutoring the family after school teaching them English. She has taken this family under her wing making sure they feel comfortable in their new country. Alicia is an amazing lady who has a heart of gold and truly cares for others.


Steve Magadance

This year, Steve took on a self-imposed task of gathering all-important Johnson information and creating a one-stop shop for resources. Using Google Sites, he created a Faculty Handbook. This handbook has everything a Johnson employee needs from web forms, events calendar, committee agendas and much more. This site is innovative and has now proven to be an invaluable resource for all Johnson staff. Dr. Gottardy spoke to the community about the NEISD transformation and being proactive in our approach of teaching 21st century learners. Steve is an instructional leader with great initiative and an eye for educational technology.


Kristen Ray, Samantha Mokate, Olga Dimas, Lisa Boeck, Lisa Guerrero, Connie Shepherd, Margaret Rogers, Gina Ryder

Stone Oak Elementary was named a Leader in Me Lighthouse School in May 2013. This is the highest distinction Leader in Me schools can attain. This brings the number of Lighthouse schools in North East to 4, and the number worldwide to 44. Wilderness Oak, Hardy Oak and Stone Oak are also Lighthouse Schools. These schools learn and live the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Achieving Lighthouse status is a concerted, collaborative endeavor taking three or more years. Kristen Ray, principal at Stone Oak, the Stone Oak Lighthouse team, staff, students, and parents worked tremendously hard that entire time to earn this distinction. Nine criteria, with three levels each, had to be met and documented. Criteria include the lighthouse team, student leadership, staff collaboration, leadership events, and more. The Leader in Me is not a program. It is a process that creates and sustains a culture of student leadership. Staff involved report that it is “not one more thing,” but that it helps them do everything else they already do better.


Debbie Gass

Teacher Debbie Gass took it upon herself to design and paint a huge sixteen by six foot mural to support the Leader in Me process at Redland Oaks Elementary. The first grade hallway at the school is utilized to showcase Habit #4, Think Win-Win. Debbie came to school before her contract time and spent many days drawing and painting the mural. She even gave up one of her Saturdays to finish the mural and seal it so it would last for years to come. This simple, yet meaningful mural helps even the youngest students understand a concept that many adults still struggle with, finding new solutions that serve everyone's diverse needs.


Mary Beth Connolly, Vivian Edens, Susan Eckles, David Marchlewski

Roan Forest's first annual ”Carnival in the Forest” was an incredible success thanks to each and every one of the school’s incredible volunteers. PTA president, Vivian, provided outstanding vision and leadership. Chair of the event, Mary Beth, often worked late into the midnight hours to get it all coordinated. David donated $1,000 of food from the Longhorn Café that was served at the event, and Susan organized a successful silent auction by contacting businesses and receiving auction items. Every committee was such an integral part of the success of our Carnival. Their dedication and positivity made it seem effortless, but we know they spent countless hours working together to create such an amazing event.


Kathleen Betty

Kathleen has been a volunteer at Stone Oak Elementary for the past four years in Dawn Deshotel’s kindergarten class. She donates her time twice a week to work with the students. Currently, she is helping a student from India learn English. She works with him one-on-one twice a week. She also works will small groups depending on their Reading levels. Without her assistance, this student would not get that one-on-one time that he needs, and the other students would not get the opportunity to read with another caring adult who can help and guide them.


Margaret Anaglia, Bonnie Babbitt, Patty Becker, Maureen Book, Vienna Gerlach, Ruby Johnson, Roger Stovall, Liz Wayne, Blithe Wiley, LaJuana Hill Janoni

The Northwood Greenback fundraiser took months of preparation, which included networking with community businesses and organizations, distributing information out to members of the school community, as well as decorating the campus to advertise for this fundraiser. These volunteers were able to get businesses to donate, as well as getting SAWS and the San Antonio Public Library to attend the event to dispense information. The members of the Greenback committee are members of the PTA and work full-time, but were willing to take on the extra task to make sure Greenback Night was a success. This fundraiser raised more than $12,000 for the school.


Brett Beyer, Dave Beyer, Maureen Book

These individuals used their own equipment to pruned trees, work on flowerbeds and playscapes, and spruce up the rest of the school grounds at Northwood Elementary on a recent Saturday morning. There were four truckloads of discarded bushes, limbs, brush, and leaves when they were all done. All three volunteers are members of the PTA and conduct these beautification projects several times a year. The school could not be more appreciate of their efforts.


Cindy Chisholm, Lisbeth Anne Dunlap, Mary Krywoszej Jordan, Diana Kenny, Vienna Gerlach

On Grandparents Day, these Northwood Elementary volunteers helped to make their school’s celebration a success. They checked in visitors and directed them to tables to join their grandchildren. There were approximately 400 grandparents on campus that day. Volunteers also decorated the lunchroom, wrapped the silverware, and made sure the line for food ran smoothly and without a single delay. They even signed up multiple mentors during this event. These volunteers took time off from work to help with this all-day event, and the school could not be more grateful.


Faviola Reyna, Xochitl Garcia, Adela Chavero, Tere Aguilar, Maria Torres, Eunice Alonso, Areli Bernabe, Cynthia Garza, Tyra Julienne, Jennifer Ryder, Tiffany Jewett

These parents attended a training session at Guadalupe State Park so that students at El Dorado Elementary could attend a special “Day of Observation Field Trip.” Without parent volunteers, the field trip would not be possible. Parents conduct the activities during the field trip that teach the students about fossils, observation and drawing, and water sampling. Some of these volunteers also attended a second training so they could learn how to do these activities in Spanish for dual language students. Their time and commitment made this learning activity possible.


Cheryl Dunn, Lisa Fairall

Cheryl and Lisa have organized and led the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dad's of Great Students) program at Northwood Elementary. They helped organize the pizza night and continue to work on the project by recruiting more Watch D.O.G.S. They email, remind, and set up the calendar for the program. Each morning that a Watch D.O.G. is on campus, they meet and introduce them on the morning announcements and go over the schedule and answer any questions. They do this before heading off to their jobs. Currently, the school has more than 80 Watch D.O.G.S. from a school that has 500 students. These two volunteers are also very active within the school and the PTA.


Sherri Morell

Sherri serves as an executive board member of the Canyon Ridge Elementary PTA. She is responsible for bringing the Watch D.O.G.S. program to the school. She has spent countless hours getting this program ready to be unveiled by researching the program and talking with other campuses. She helped set up the opening event called "Pizza and Planes," where students and dads had the chance to eat pizza, make incredible paper airplanes and sign up to be Watch D.O.G.S. Currently, the school has more than 68 dads sign up to spend an entire day at Canyon Ridge over the course of the school year. Sherri’s "can-do" attitude exemplifies her willingness to go the extra mile to bring this program to life.


Justin Powell

Justin Powell is the fiancé of Canyon Ridge third grade teacher, Casey Hengst. When the 2013 school year began, each of the Canyon Ridge 3rd grade classrooms had more than 22 students. Justin wanted all of the 3rd graders to feel at home in their new classrooms and have a place for their belongings. Each classroom has 22 built-in cubbies for students to keep books and other materials. Justin set about making additional portable cubbies for each of the five classrooms. He built a total of 10 extra cubbies that matched the current cubbies in the classroom. Students and their teachers were excited to know that every student would have a special place to keep their materials. The school truly appreciates Justin’s time, talent and financial support to provide such a wonderful gift to the school’s third-grade students.


Heather MacNaughton, Mike MacNaughton

When the Redland Oaks PPCD/Ready Set Go classroom was getting a little cluttered with students' belongings, Teacher Heather decided it needed to get organized. Soliciting the help of her father, Dr. Mike MacNaughton, they went right to work. They built beautiful eight-foot cubbies for her 13 Ready Set Go students and 10 five-foot cubbies for the PPCD students that share their classroom. The cubbies are constructed of sturdy lumber with hooks for the children to hang their backpacks and outwear. These beautiful and functional cubbies are reflective of the love and commitment Heather has for all the children in the Ready-Set-Go/PPCD classroom, as well as the love and commitment a father has for his daughter.


Del Smith

Del has volunteered for the NESA Dance department for 9 consecutive years. She originally volunteered when her oldest daughter was a freshman, and continued to volunteer when she graduated and Del didn't have children attending the school. Her second daughter is now a senior and is finishing up her service. She coordinates every meal that the dance majors eat before every extended rehearsal and performance both semesters. She coordinates food donations, food orders, food pick up and delivery, other parent volunteers, set up, serving, clean up and always does it with a smile. She has been a true asset to the success of the dance department performances. The school is going to greatly miss her but will never forget her nine years of service.


Posted on Dec. 18, 2013