Appreciated Teacher Awards
As a teacher’s credit union, one of the many ways we demonstrate our support and gratitude for educators is through our Appreciated Teacher Awards. This is a recognition program that commends outstanding teachers within our field of membership, which includes all districts and accredited schools in Texas.
Gulf Coast Educators FCU started the Appreciated Teacher Award program in 2012 to help honor the work of dedicated educators who make a difference in our community. The finalists are announced each year during Teacher Appreciation Week, when the public votes on their choice for Appreciated Teacher of the Year. The finalist with the most votes receives a $2,500 grand prize and the remaining 4 finalists each receive a $500 honorarium.
We are not currently accepting nominations for our Appreciated Teacher Awards. Check back in April!
Past Appreciated Teacher Winners
2023 Appreciated Teachers
1. Aaron Boudreaux – Spring ISD
It is with great humility that I accept this nomination from the GCEFCU. I feel so honored to even be considered. My time in education has not been for awards, because the reward is getting to work with these children on a daily basis. I grew up in south Houston, relocating to Spring just for work; I am so grateful for the knowledge and wisdom I received in school as well as in surrounding communities. I feel it is now my responsibility to give back and continue in the footsteps of those that blazed before me. I followed both my mother and father into this field as educators and I enjoy every moment that comes with impacting a young person’s life.
My time at Bailey Middle School has been amazing. I am so thankful for the years spent molding lives and being able to see those young adults go on to be successful in High School. Although the process is long and sometimes difficult, it’s those trials we are able to overcome which give us our greatest sense of achievement. My time spent as the department chair on campus allowed me to step into a leadership role and work with other teachers to sharpen their craft. Our time was cut short due to the pandemic, but the ability to provide the virtual assistance when needed gave me the opportunity to work on how I am able to adjust to multiple moving pieces and produce desirable outcomes.
With the creation of Mentoring Mighty Minds, a local non-profit organization designed to work with young African-American males during the adolescence stage of life, Aaron partners with community leaders throughout the city of Houston. Mentoring Mighty Minds provides opportunities for instructional, emotional, physical, and mental growth to a population of young men often forgotten about or not addressed until there is an issue with one of the above-mentioned factors. Aaron uses his platform in the classroom to build healthy relationships with students and their families. Having a supportive figure in the classroom goes a long way in teaching a child how to learn to love to learn! For the past 13 years, Aaron has decided to shine a light on situations that plague our community and will continue to uplift those that are in the greatest need for a positive source of influence.
2. Adriana Sanchez Cantu – Alvin ISD
Mrs. Sanchez has been an educator at Alvin ISD for almost 10 years and is the Gifted & Talented Specialist at Sanchez Elementary. She is always willing to go the extra mile to help students, parents, the community, and the campus. She was recognized by the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented as the 2022 Educator of the Year. Mrs. Sanchez runs after school clubs such as Destination Imagination, VEX Robotics, Chess, Math Pentathlon, and Science Club. Her team of 5th graders participated in an international competition called Mars Colony Challenge and won 1st place. She coordinates the campus UIL and is the Yearbook sponsor. Mrs. Sanchez applied and received a grant to bring PLTW Launch to the campus to build potential in the younger students and engage them in STEM. She received grants to purchase drones, 3D pens, software to create and code holograms, a hydroponics classroom kit, and funds to purchase architectural houses for 5th grade. She secured a sponsorship for a group of students to participate in an international competition called Space Camp where students practiced with simulation software and received daily feedback from NASA experts.
Mrs. Sanchez volunteers on Saturdays for student competitions. She volunteered as a judge at VEX Worlds and at TSA Photography competitions. She continues to reach out to experts and is always looking for opportunities to continue learning. She holds a national STEM certification from NISE and is part of the REMSL cohort from Rice University that focuses on STEM practices in the classroom. She holds an MBA and a Master’s in Education. Mrs. Sanchez speaks Spanish, English, French, and Italian and is completely dedicated to ensuring students are supported and engaged in learning opportunities that take them above and beyond. She is a great example of a lifelong learner, kind individual, professional, student advocate, and teacher.
3. Ashley Miller – Pasadena ISD
I started my teaching career during my high school years back in Ohio, where I grew up.
My university, Bowling Green State University, partnered with Aline ISD to bring student teachers down to the Houston area. When I joined this program I knew I wanted to help change the lives of students in the Greater Houston area. Once I graduated, I interviewed for a Special Education position with Pasadena ISD and fell in love with the students of this district. This is currently my fifth year teaching Elementary Special Education students for Pasadena ISD in grades Pre-K through fourth grade. During this school year, I had to step into multiple teacher roles and help students from all of the different Special Education programs. This role was not easy, but it was rewarding to know that each action I made was going to help change a students’ day.
In my third year of teaching, I was given the leadership role of Team Leader for our Special Education Department. As a team leader it is my responsibility to hold my peers accountable for the legal paperwork we have to complete to ensure all of our student’s needs are being met from their Individualized Educational Plans. This school year, I was nominated by my campus peers and administrators and was awarded the Teacher of the Year for Red Bluff Elementary. I was also nominated for the H-E-B Excellence in Education Award. I had the honor to be one of the two co-sponsors to create a Student Council at Red Bluff. This has been an honor to bring back an active, community-based volunteer program to our school. I am serving my second year as my campus representative for our district Teacher Incentive Allotment Committee. I have been a helping hand by attending and helping plan fun and educational activities for our third and fourth grade students for our after school and Saturday tutorials. I not only work diligently hard as an educator, but I also volunteer countless hours for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. This allows me the opportunity to interact with individuals across the Houston area and out of town to let them know how amazing Houston is.
It gives me great joy to know that each and every day that I come to school that my students and other students around the school wait for a good morning wave or hello. The students at Red Bluff Elementary are truly one of a kind. Knowing that I can make a difference in my students’ lives and other lives is the best reward I can receive as an educator.
4. Kristie Sparks – Sheldon ISD
In 2004 I started as a Special Education Teacher’s Aide for the Houston Independent School District, where I found my calling and fell in love with teaching. I completed my education degree while working full time at Herrera Elementary. In May of 2008 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education EC-4th grade and taught as a first-grade teacher at Coop Elementary. The next school year I was asked with my prior experience if I wanted to work in the Special Education Life Skills classroom, and I accepted the position and never looked back! I became certified in 2010 as a Special Education Pk-12 Teacher, but I have only taught at the elementary level. I worked for Houston I.S.D. for a total of 16 wonderful years. I worked at four terrific elementary schools, Herrera Elementary, Coop Elementary, Poe Elementary and Northline Elementary. As a child I attended Northline Elementary, so it meant so much to me get to teach at my favorite school where I was once a student. I loved giving back to my community and seeing some of my old classmates from the neighborhood whose children were now attending the school. I have taught for the last three years for the Sheldon Independent School District at Carroll Elementary in the Special Education Life Skills/Autism classroom. My second year at Carroll Elementary I won a grant to create a STEM center in my classroom. With the grant money I was able to buy robots and programming tools for my students, since we are a STEM school. They were always discussing the robots and programming they were learning from our STEM teacher, so I felt we should have it available for them to learn and discover in more depth in our class. I have a total of 19 years of teaching but honestly it feels like I am just getting started. I can’t wait to see what more teaching has in place for me in the coming months and years. I love my students, staff and principal and with their support I am always looking for ways to make my classroom a better learning environment. The grants I obtain allow me to create a more calming and comfortable sensory stimulating classroom for my students with Autism, I want to have a technology center with new devices and computers to use for curriculum apps and leisure time, and outside equipment for my students who are wheelchair bound. My current goal is to go back to school and earn more of an administrative role, so that I can be an advocate for the Special Education population. As I mentioned earlier, I found my calling and I absolutely love it and I can’t wait for my next school year!
5. Ashley Henderson – Goose Creek CISD
I live by the quote that “education is not preparation for life…. but education is life itself.” This quote means so much to me because it’s something that I truly live and breathe. I’m entering my 5th year of teaching 6th grade ELA where we hold it down. I value the importance of teaching my students how to be rich; not rich when it comes to monetary value but rich in culture and education. I value building genuine relationships with my students and I make tis my number one priority of a daily basis. I helped put on E. F. Green’s 1st annual Black History Show. I held auditions, after school rehearsals, and put on 3 separate shows. I’ve held a writing workshop that was called “The Writing University” for my students. They had the chance to learn the writing process while pretending to attend a real university. They decorated their dorms (desk), and they even had a graduation ceremony afterwards where they were able to take a picture with a gown and tassel. I’ve also put on a ER themed workshop where students dressed as surgeons in order to fix some broken ECR’s and SCR’s in preparation for STAAR. I even made several raps for my students to encourage them throughout the year; in which they enjoy so much. One of the raps being called Super STAARS. I’ve dedicated my life to being the best educator that I can be and I hope it shows through the love I give in this field.