Thursday, September 1, 2011

Help a Teacher Out- 2011 Reveal!

What an amazing week we had revealing the gift baskets to these teachers! There is nothing else like the feeling you get surprising someone with such a great gift!

Of course NONE of this would have been possible without our great contributors. Be sure to check them out!

One thing we discovered in doing these deliveries... these schools not only have great teachers, but the secretaries, principals and other staff involved are just as wonderful! These schools run on such a tight schedule that it almost became a little overwhelming scheduling 12 different school deliveries within 4 days. Without the help of the school secretaries and principals, it would have been a disaster. We can not thank you all enough! But we can guarantee that if your child goes to any of these schools, they are in good hands all the way around!

This blog post will be a little long, but so worth the read! Enjoy learning about the 14 teachers this community helped support this school year! And stay tuned next summer, because after the great response, we will be helping teachers out again!

Teacher #1: BONNIE WEED (Canyon High School)
Nominated by: Michelle Koehl

“I would like to nominate Bonnie Weed for the Parker Homes Help A Teacher Out! I am the math department chair at Canyon, and Bonnie is one of the hardest working teachers in our department. She puts in a lot of time, energy, dedication, and money to her classroom. She simply goes above and beyond for her students each day. Ms. Weed is always in contact with the high school parents to keep them updated, she rewards her students with prizes often, and she supplies extra pencils, paper, etc. for her students. Her lessons are always well prepared as she spends extra time to implement as much technology as possible. There is no way I can put into words all that Ms. Weed does for her students, classroom, and other teachers on our campus as she is also our social committee chair for the campus and a class sponsor. With all that being said, Ms. Weed goes above and beyond every day, using her own money for so many things. And she does all this as a single parent of a boy who is in elementary school. It amazes me how she is so dedicated to do so many things, and then even picks up extra work (like summer school). I know she would GREATLY appreciate any help you would be willing to offer her. Thank you for your time and consideration.”

We were lucky we had the help of Michelle to coordinate this reveal. They had just gotten out of a long meeting and Michelle convinced her to go to the office, which is where my wife was waiting to surprise her along with one of her former students, Devin. (Devin is at Texas State now getting her teaching certification which she claims is due to the inspiration Bonnie Weed gave her in class- keeping the cycle of great teachers going!)

Bonnie was moved to tears, which started a domino effect with the rest of the crowd! And then to top it off, we honored Michelle Koehl as well with a $100 gift card. We thought it was selfless and kind of her to nominate another teacher, being a great teacher herself!

PICTURED: (From left to right)
Tiffany Parker, Michelle Koehl, Bonnie Weed, Devin Culpepper

Teacher #2: COACH KYLE HENDERSON (Church Hill Middle School)
Nominated By: Maggie Berry

“Inspiring, caring, dedicated, long hours, practical, realistic, kids love him, so do we!”

Like we said before, scheduling was crazy. Coach Henderson was in between meetings and we had a 10 minute time slot to catch him at the school. It didn't always work out that we could get the person who nominated the teacher there at the same time. (The teachers had not even started school yet, and they were crazy busy! Yet another reason to give credit where its due!) Coach Henderson was called down to the office, but luckily it was for a great gift basket full of stuff he will be able to use for the upcoming football season and school year! He was ecstatic about it!

Pictured: Coach Kyle Henderson

Teacher #3: CHRISTIE TIMMONS (Premier High School)
Nominated By: Anonymous

“Christie is amazing. She works at a charter school that helps at risk children. She spends many hours and is always looking for ways to help her kids. She treats them like they are her own children. She encourages, befriends and loves these kids and for some of them she is the only one who is a constant cheerleader for them. She gives them stuff for holidays, she becomes a mentor, she pushes them to do more than they ever dreamed they could do. I even know that one of her students was sick with no insurance and she paid for him to go to the doctor. She also has her own child that she is very involved with. Her husband works away for many months so she is essentially a single mom who never says no. She hated recognition because she feels that she is doing nothing out of the ordinary. I would love for her to have this. She spends so much of her time and money I would love to see her recognized. I would also like to remain anonymous to the fact that I nominated her!”

I think we really shocked Christie! All the staff at this school helped us with the surprise. We all went into her classroom and presented it to her. It was fun to see her confusion as we all came into the room with this big basket. She quickly became very excited and honored, and we were all excited for her! The person who nominated her wanted to remain anonymous but we are curious to see if Christie ever figured out who it was. What a great person!

Pictured: (From Left to Right) Tiffany Parker, Christie Timmons, Ryan Parker

Teacher #4: CHARLES RYALS (Clear Spring Elementary)
Nominated By: Amy Merritt

“Mr Ryals was my son's homeroom teacher last year. He inspires the kids to read, read, read, study hard and do their best. We were so incredibly blessed by his calming influence on our son and the work he put in for all of his students.”

From the second we mentioned this teacher's name when calling to schedule, the secretaries and principal got excited. We also had a 10 minute time slot for this teacher. Principal Nash was about to start a movie for the entire staff to watch, when she allowed us to stand up in front of everyone to present his award! He was met with a huge standing ovation- no doubt that this guy is a great teacher and co-worker!

Charles also took the time to answer a questionnaire we sent out and here are some of his answers:
Mr. Ryals is originally from the area but his dad was in the air force so they moved around a lot. Charles spent 25 years in Virginia Beach, Norfolk area. He just celebrated his 40th anniversary married to his high school sweetheart, Margaret. He retired from the Navy after 26.5 years. This is his 14th year to teach 4th grade in CISD schools.

He used to volunteer at his wife's school in Norfolk, VA and decided it was something he would love to do. He used his GI Bill to get his Masters in Elementary Education at Texas State. When asked what is his favorite part of teaching is, he says: "Watching a student when the light bulb comes on and they 'get it'. I love seeing the kids come in the morning." He also says he hopes to make a difference in his student's lives. (and we think that he more than likely has made a positive difference in many, many lives throughout all his years of service to not only our children but this great country!)

When asked how he will be able to use the items given, he mentioned he will not only help his own class but his fellow teachers with their needs as well- what a great guy!

He also said he felt very humbled. "I do what I do because its my calling and I am passionate about it. Recognition is something I don't expect."

In closing he said, "I would like to thank you for taking your time to do this for teachers. 'Help a Teacher Out' is truly an awesome idea for groups of people to help teachers- Thank you."

Pictured: My wife, Tiffany and Principal Nash (this is a great picture, because my wife is a bit shy and hates talking in front of large groups of people- and the entire staff was there :) )

Pictured: Charles Ryals

Teacher #5: BARBARA CHRISTY (Mountain Valley Middle School)
Nominated By: Chyrel Madden

“Barbara works with students with intellectual impairments, autism, and physical disabilities. She has unending patience working with these students with disabilities, wanting them to understand how very able they are. She focuses her efforts on helping her students become socially acceptable and as ready for the work force as possible. Barbara believes in the premise that ALL students can learn. She works hard to help them reach their full potential.”

Yet another busy teacher/school. We were able to swing by during one of their faculty meetings and present her award in front of everyone. The Principal, Dr. Maika wanted to be sure she was surprised and in front of all to see, and that she was! Barbara also filled out our questionnaire and her replies are below:

She grew up in Jacksonville, FL and has lived in Texas for the last six years. She has been married for almost 11 years and has a 9 year old daughter Layla, and a 6 year old son, Lance. Both of her parents were teachers and she has always loved working with children with special needs. How lucky are we to have great teachers like Barbara!?!

When asked what her favorite part of teaching is, she replied, "I appreciate the little milestones my students make everyday."

She goes on to say, "The items I received are amazing for use with special needs children. There are items that will reinforce the skills that I teach, items I can use for prizes, and items I can use everyday."

And her reaction to receiving the recognition: "I literally was speechless!" and also adds, "I want to thank everyone responsible for this honor and I am humbled by it."

Pictured: Barbara Christy

Teacher #6: PAIGE HOLDEN (Freiheit Elementary)
Nominated By: Cassie Harig

“I met Paige while we were both getting our teaching degrees down in Corpus Christi. Over the years I've had the opportunity to see Paige grow as a teacher and I've seen all the wonderful things she does with her class. From exploding soda with mentos to Eric Carle inspired art projects, her creativity and dedication as a teacher comes through in her lessons. I've had the opportunity to be in Paige's classroom many times and I'm always impressed by what I see. Like most teachers, I know she spends quite a bit out of pocket to supplement her classroom, so if anyone deserves a little help, it's most definitely her.”

Freiheit actually had two teachers nominated and the school wanted to be sure we presented the awards in front of the entire staff as well. (I'm glad my wife was such a trooper when doing these presentations in front of everyone!) So here is the 2nd teacher nominated there:

Teacher #7: DAVID WAGNER (Freiheit Elementary)

Nominated By: Rachelle Wagner

“David is a dedicated science teacher and this is his second year teaching. He is also a dedicated father and husband. He could really use some supplies to jump start the school year! Thank you for your consideration and support of all teachers!!!”

These teachers have some great supporters in their lives! Rachelle is David's wife and she brought their two children to the big reveal as well. When my wife, Tiffany, was done presenting, David's oldest son ran up to David and presented him with a special necklace he made, telling him he was the best teacher/dad ever! I think that was even better than the basket he got!

Pictured: (From left to right) Paige Holden and David Wagner

Pictured: Rachelle Wagner and David Wagner with their children (the newest addition is in the background in the stroller :) )

Teacher #8: MATTHEW HERZOG (Startzville Elementary)
Nominated By: Shari Tucker

“Mr. Herzog is always reaching into his own pocket to provide his 3rd grade class with little extras. He is very innovative in the way he teaches and is able to not only get the information across that the students need to learn but does so in a fun and engaging manner. Every student that has Mr. Herzog loves him and every student in the younger grades wants to have Mr. Herzog as their 3rd grade teacher when they get there. He spends hours of his own time preparing lessons for his class. Matthew Herzog is a dedicated teacher and is very deserving of any help that you would be offering.”

Shari met my wife at the office and walked down to Matthew's classroom to surprise him. Mr. Herzog teaches 3rd grade so the entire 3rd grade team came out to see what was going on and cheer him on. Everyone was so excited to see him get the recognition and couldn't wait to go through all the stuff. You know they must be great teachers when they get excited about a basket full of glue sticks, markers, and pencils! :)

Pictured: (from left to right) (sorry, but we did not catch the other teachers' names!) -3rd grade teacher-, -3rd grade teacher-, -3rd grade teacher-, Matthew Herzog, Shari Tucker, and -3rd grade teacher-.

Teacher #9: AMY BIDDISON (Klein Elementary)
Nominated by: Terra Marrou

“Mrs. Biddison is a warm and wonderful teacher. She just recently gave up her law license and became a teacher and then with all the budget cuts lost her position at County line Elementary. She was hired on at Klien, thank goodness but in the process her husband (also a teacher) lost his job and is still looking. She was a wonderful mentor to my son in the Destination Imagination club as well. I know that being a teacher is hard on the pocket book and then to have both parents at one time lose their job is just a very sad thing. I am so glad she was hired back but we are sad to see her leave CLE. I think she deserves it for all the sacrifices she and her family have made to be educators to our children.”

We loved this one because Terra was able to meet us at Klein with ALL 6 of her children, one of which was a student of Mrs. Biddison's and a couple others knew her as well. Before Amy even knew about the award, she was so excited to see the kids, as they ran up and hugged her. And they were all so excited to show her the basket full of goodies she received for the recognition. You could tell that Terra was a very thankful mother towards Mrs. Biddison. What a great way to show her thanks!

Pictured: (From left to right) Terra Marrou, 2 of her kiddos (sorry can not remember their names!), Amy Biddison, and 2 more kiddos. (2 kids were not pictured)

Teacher #10: DEBBIE HAHN (Carl Schurz)
Nominated by: Henry Hahn

“Ms. Hahn has over 25 years experience teaching, of which, 11 have been in NBISD. She has always used much of her own money and resources to provide the best learning experience that first graders can have.”

Henry, which is Debbie's brother, met us at Carl Schurz and we walked to Debbie's classroom to surprise her. She was busy getting ready for "Meet the Teacher" which was happening that evening. She was blown away by the kindness of her brother, thinking of her and recognizing her hard work and dedication. It was a really sweet moment!

Debbie filled out our questionnaire as well:

Debbie Hahn has 26 years of teaching with 12 of those years at NBISD. She has two daughters, one lives in California with her family and one lives in Florida. She is known as "Gammy" to 3 grandchildren. Her brother and sister-in-law live just 9 houses away from her. New Braunfels has always been a favorite town of hers.

Debbie has always loved to be around children. When she was growing up, she always wanted to babysit the neighbors children. "Playing School" was her favorite past-time and the elementary education courses in college always interested her as well. So she sought out being the best teacher possible!

What's her favorite part of teaching? "There is never a dull moment! I love the challenge of teaching these little minds academically, as well as socially. I feel so fullfilled when I see how much they learn and grow."

How will she be able to use the items in the basket? "Oh my... EVERY item is needed and WILL be used. I feel like I won the classroom lottery! The choice of items is just perfect and I'm looking forward to using it all with my first graders."

Her reaction to the nomination? "Totally stunned! My adrenalin was sky high and I fell so thankful to have been chosen. It was an awesome moment."

She also includes... "This community service for teachers is a wonderful thing. I think I can generalize and say... most teachers do not feel appreciated. This generosity shows that there still are people out there that understand the hard job we have each day."

These contributors are some of the generous and caring people she is referring to!

Pictured: (From left to right) Henry Hahn and Debbie Hahn

Teacher #11: TONYA HEFFINGTON (Seele Elementary)
Nominated By: Jennifer Gomez

“I was very thankful that our son Zach was blessed with such a great kindergarten teacher. She really is a very sweet and loving teacher who taught our son so much his first year of school. And the reason why he enjoys it. After the year was over she made the decision to move to third grade and i am hoping we will be blessed with Zach having her as a teacher again. Zach says she is nice and funny and he had an awesome time in kindergarten.”

Another appreciative mom! Its always a comfort to know your children are in good hands as they journey through life! We surprised Tonya Heffington in her classroom. I think she was in complete shock and overcome with emotion! She was having a meeting with her team members and I am sure it was hard to concentrate after that!

Pictured: Tonya Heffington

Teacher #12: RACHEL SHERRERD (Garden Ridge Elementary)
Nominated By: Kathy Riley

“Mrs. Sherrerd is the teacher all kids LOVE! Every child is fully engaged in her class and are eager to hear what she has to say. She makes science come to life in the classroom. She absolutely loves her job and science and it shows everyday in the classroom. In the words of my 11-year-old son, she is the BEST teacher in the world!”

We also surprised Rachel as she was in a team meeting. Once again shocked and overwhelmed like so many of the teachers. Its great to see someone's hard work and dedication get recognized. For that moment she got to celebrate her talent as a teacher before she quickly went back to work! :) Kathy, who nominated her, wanted to be there as well with her son but had to move her two daughters to college that day.

Pictured: Rachel Sherrerd

Teacher #13: ANGELA JENSEN (Garden Ridge Elementary)
Nominated by: Laura Cannon

“Angela was a first year teacher at our school this year--she actually got her job after school started when our enrollment swelled. She did a fantastic job and always had a positive outlook even during the possibility of job cuts with the state budget difficulties. She is dedicated to her job and her students and would use a grant wisely to help her classroom be even better this year. We are so glad her job has remained intact and I think she is worthy of some help.”

Another great teacher at Garden Ridge Elementary! By the time we arrived at Angela's classroom, we had a big crowd of teachers following us, ready to cheer on their co-worker. Laura Cannon, who nominated Angela, was also there and we got to surprise her with a $100 gift card as well, for being such a selfless, giving teacher by nominating a co-worker. There were lots of cheers and lots of tears of happiness. These teachers are amazing!

Pictured: (From left to right) Angela Jensen and Laura Cannon

Teacher #14: KIMBRA CULPEPPER (Goodwin Frazier)
Nominated by: Devin Culpepper

“Mrs. Culpepper is always ready to help kids learn about everything that goes on in our world. From what makes the Earth turn to what we are made of. She is passionate about science, and I think she could use some more cool science gadgets to help get her kids just as passoinate about it as she is!”

Our last stop was at Goodwin Frazier where we surprised Kimbra in the copy room. Devin is her daughter and was there helping her mom put together her room for the school year. Kimbra was very excited and honored to receive such a great gift not only from us but from her sweet daughter as well. You know you must be doing something right if you can raise your own kids to appreciate what you do for a living!

Pictured: (From left to right) Kimbra Culpepper and Devin Culpepper

As you can see, it was an AMAZING week. If we could hand out those baskets everyday, we would. Its amazing how something as small as a thank you, as special as a homemade necklace, or as big as a basket full of stuff can make a difference in someone's life. I gaurantee the teachers we all honored will have an extra spark this school year. We hope they continue to do an outstanding job and we hope you all continue to support ALL the great teachers out there. We will be back again next summer to honor more great teachers, so start thinking and writing out your nominations!

Again, Thank you to EVERYONE who helped make this project a success!

To all the teachers out there... We hope you have an INCREDIBLE year and THANK YOU!