The annual event pays tribute to elementary and secondary teachers from school districts throughout the Texas Education Agency's Region One, which includes the Rio Grande Valley. Educators are selected by their respective school districts.
This year, the University honored 43 teachers from 23 participating school systems. All but three of the districts chose one elementary and one secondary teacher to reward. The other three school districts chose just one teacher.
Educators also heard from keynote Dr. Ana Maria Rodriguez, UTPA's former senior vice provost for the Office of Academic Affairs for Undergraduate Studies, who talked about the traits that all outstanding teachers have.
Four students from area elementary and secondary schools also gave speeches thanking their teachers — who were also among the night's honorees — for inspiring them to learn.
UT Pan American's College of Education also bestowed its Teacher Legend Award to Wayne Miller, a retired math teacher with more than 30 years experience at several Rio Grande Valley school districts.
The Legend Award is given to longtime educators from the Rio Grande Valley who received their education at UTPA or its earlier institutions and have inspired and created a lasting impact on their students who have gone on to become UTPA faculty members.
The teacher honorees are:
Donna ISD: Elizabeth A. Acevedo; Juan Garza
Edcouch-Elsa ISD: Candelaria Castañeda; Rohny Escareno
Edinburg CISD: Monica Perez; G. Marivel Vela-De La Rosa
Harlingen CISD: Michelle Ayala; Angela De La Fuente
Hidalgo ISD: Diana Guzman; Emmanuel Garcia
La Feria ISD: Reva Ayala; Norman V. Lee III
La Joya ISD: Maricela Contreras; Jose Guajardo Jr.
La Villa ISD: Margarita Maldonado
Los Fresnos ISD: Darcy Ann Boles; Heidi Gomez
Lyford ISD: Leah Harding
McAllen ISD: Alma A. Garza; Marilee Stockton
Mercedes ISD: Dawn Nehr Sepulveda; Anna Maria Mena
Mission CISD: Maria Salinas; Yvette Nevarez
PSJA ISD: Iliana M. Hinojosa; Agnes I. Ocampo
Point Isabel ISD: Joanna Wolfe
Roma ISD: Maria E. Gonzalez; Annabel R. Saenz
San Isidro ISD: Delma Saenz; Alyssa Bardwell
San Perlita ISD: Jessica Moczygemba; Juan Muñoz
Santa Maria ISD: Samantha Morales; Mark A. Aguero
Sharyland ISD: Tiffany Rodgers; Laura Colegio
United ISD: Sara Rodriguez; Michelle Hix
Valley View ISD: Vanessa Salazar; Lilia Lozano
Weslaco ISD: Yvonne Chapa; Feliberto De Anda