On Sunday, May 5, H-E-B announced statewide winners for the 18th annual H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards during an awards ceremony at the Fairmont Hotel in Austin. During the ceremony, H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt handed out $430,000 in cash awards and grants, and congratulated eight educators, two school districts, one early childhood agency and a public school board for being among the best in Texas. The program has given away more than $10 million in cash and grants to Texas teachers and schools since 2002.
Daniel Pink delivered the keynote address to a ballroom packed with hundreds of educators, elected officials, community leaders and H-E-B employees. Pink is the author of several provocative, bestselling books about business, work and behavior that have won multiple awards and have sold more than three million copies worldwide.
The following winners were selected from a pool of 58 finalists by judges who include former winners, school administrators, and university and community leaders.
The 2019 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award Winners Are:
The Rising Star Category recognizes teachers with less than 10 years of experience. Winners received a $5,000 check for themselves and a $5,000 grant for their school.
- Rising Star Elementary: Vanessa Gruner, JC Kelly Elementary, Hildalgo ISD
- Rising Star Secondary: Tasha K. Jones, Tuloso Midway High School, Tuloso Midway ISD
The Leadership Category honors teachers with 10 to 20 years in the classroom. Winners received a $10,000 check for themselves and a $10,000 grant for their school.
- Leadership Elementary: Celena Miller, Cesar Chavez Elementary, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD
- Leadership Secondary: Dr. Nghia Le, Booker T. Washington High School and The High School for Engineering Professions, Houston ISD
The Lifetime Achievement Category salutes teachers with more than 20 years of experience. Winners received $25,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their school.
- Lifetime Achievement Elementary: Andrea Greimel, Carvajal Early Childhood Education Center, San Antonio ISD
- Lifetime Achievement Secondary: Jodi Ramos, Coke Stevenson Middle School, Northside ISD
Winning principals received $10,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for each of their schools.
- Principal Elementary: Irma Davis, Dishman Elementary School, Harlingen CISD
- Principal Secondary: Laura Gomez, South Houston Intermediate, Pasadena ISD
The winning early childhood facility received a $25,000 cash prize.
- SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures, Houston
The winning public school board received a $25,000 cash prize.
- Del Valle, ISD, Del Valle
Small School District
The winning small school district received a $50,000 cash prize.
- Roma ISD, Roma
Large School District
The winning large school district received a $100,000 cash prize.
- Socorro ISD, El Paso
About the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards
H-E-B launched the Excellence in Education Awards program in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators in 2002 as a positive way to support public education in Texas. It has become the largest monetary program for educators in the state, spotlighting best practices and celebrating the passion and creativity of Texas educators.
H-E-B asks customers, Partners (employees) and community members to nominate teachers, principals, districts, early childhood facilities and school boards in Texas. Each nominee is sent an invitation to complete an application online and is asked about their professional experiences, educational philosophies and achievements both in and out of the classroom.
A team of judges reviews the applications, narrowing the field to semi-finalists. From that pool, five regional judging panels comprised of former winners, administrators, and university and community leaders not affiliated with H-E-B select 40 teacher and principal finalists. Finalists and their schools receive a cash prize of $1,000 to $2,500, depending on category.
Three separate panels select eight school districts and five early childhood facilities as finalists, awarding $2,500 to $5,000 in cash prizes. Up to five school boards may also be recognized, and awarded $5,000 towards the district they serve. Additionally, one or more school boards may receive a special judge’s award totaling up to $25,000. Site visits are conducted to determine winners.
Teacher and principal finalists are invited to compete on a statewide level for larger cash prizes totaling more than $400,000. A statewide panel of judges, not affiliated with H-E-B, conducts a personal interview with each finalist to select winners.
Eight winners — two principals and six teachers — are announced along with two school districts, one large and one small, a public school board and an early childhood facility, at a celebratory dinner.
Each winning principal—one elementary school and one high school—receives $10,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their schools. The winning large school district receives a $100,000 cash prize and the winning small school district receives $50,000. The winning early childhood facility receives $25,000 and a school board could be awarded up to $25,000.
The six winning teachers include one elementary and one secondary teacher in each of three categories:
The Rising Star Award — honors exceptionally promising teachers with less than 10 years of experience. These winners will each receive a $5,000 check for themselves and a $5,000 grant for their schools.
The Leadership Award — honors teachers with 10 to 20 years in the classroom. These winners will each receive a $10,000 check for themselves and a $10,000 grant for their schools.
The Lifetime Achievement Award — salutes teachers with more than 20 years of experience. These teachers will each receive $25,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their schools.