Valley Teachers of the Year honored at UTPA event
Posted: 11/23/2009
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Fifty-four Rio Grande Valley teachers chosen by their school districts as their top educators during the 2008-2009 academic school year were honored by The University of Texas-Pan American recently at its fifth annual Teachers of the Year Awards banquet.

Held at the UTPA Wellness and Fitness Complex, the recognition banquet was sponsored by the College of Education and the Division of Enrollment and Student Services. Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said the event is a way to show the university's appreciation for these outstanding teachers, who work diligently to prepare students for the next level of success.

PIctured left to right at UTPA's recent annual banquet to recognize Rio Grande Valley school districts' Teachers of the Year are Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services; Dr. Velma Menchaca, professor, Department of Educational Leadership, College of Education; La Joya ISD teacher Eberardo Torres; Sharyland ISD teachers Laura Rodriguez and Debbie Schuster; McAllen ISD teacher Janet Mora; and Dr. Salvador Hector Ochoa, dean, College of Education.
"The evening also enables UTPA to say thanks to our South Texas schools, which are enhancing student preparation for higher education," Edwards said.

The Teachers of the Year are selected by school districts annually according to the method adopted by each district. They are generally chosen based on their excellence in classroom teaching, ability to inspire and motivate students of all backgrounds and abilities, and active participation in the community as well as the school.

Along with testimonials from students of some of the teachers honored, attendees also heard from keynote speaker Dr. Leo Gomez, professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Dr. Salvador Hector Ochoa, dean of the UTPA College of Education. Ochoa noted that many of the teachers honored by their districts each year are alumni of the College of Education at UTPA.

"These are teachers who have excelled in preparing our next generation of young people who come to college. It's rewarding to see the impact of the training they have received here come to fruition in the classroom and be recognized by their respective districts," he said.

The following school teachers were honored during the event: Carol Lutsinger and Jackson Tegarden, Brownsville ISD; Maria Wong and Juana Martinez, Donna ISD; Damiana Martinez and Adriana Flores, Edcouch-Elsa ISD; Olga Martinez and Jennifer Cabello, Edinburg ISD; Sylvia Abrigo and Linda Lunsford, Harlingen ISD; Mary Stevens and Sandra San Miguel, Hidalgo ISD; Trisha Betancourt and Rolando Gonzales, La Feria ISD; Eberardo Torres and Dustin Hixenbaugh, La Joya ISD; Rosemarie Buchanan and Raul Gonzalez, La Sara ISD; Rosie Romero and Abraham Cantu, La Villa ISD; Annice Garza and Jane M. Gonzalez, Los Fresnos ISD; Janet Mora and Marrisa Sarabando, McAllen ISD; Yvonne Chapa and Michael A. Hernandez, Mercedes ISD; Rosa E. Blanton and Everardo Castellano Jr., Mission CISD; Betty Reyes and Elma Perez, Monte Alto ISD; Natalie Gonzalez, Point Isabel ISD; Liza Lozano and Teresa Rodriguez, Progreso ISD; Blanca Lopez and Guadalupe Garcia, PSJA ISD; Elvia Isabel Garza and Nydia Mayeux, Rio Grande City CISD; Eufemia Jasso and Alma Guerrero, Roma ISD; Paula Olivarez and Susanna Kay Thomas, San Benito CISD; Araceli Garza and Silvia Alaniz, San Isidro ISD; Jayne Rhodes and Laurie Kilbourn, San Perlita ISD; Nancy King and Ruben Quintanilla, Santa Maria ISD; Laura Rodriguez and Debbie Schuster, Sharyland ISD; Sonia Tapia, Valley View ISD; Lori Garces and Manuel Gonzales Jr.; and Raquel Martinez and Monica Vela, Zapata ISD.

For more information on the UTPA College of Education, go to