College of Education Recognizes Top Mentors, New Teachers
Last Updated on April 01, 2022 at 12:00 AM
Originally published April 01, 2022
By Daniel Perez
UTEP Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at El Paso celebrated the achievements and innovative work of five novice teachers – UTEP alumni with less than five years of teaching experience – and seven mentor teachers during the 2022 College of Education Recognition Event on March 24.
The 12 recipients represented primary and secondary public school campuses in the Clint, El Paso, Fabens, Socorro and Ysleta school districts. The awardees taught or mentored in math, English, science, social studies and physical education.
The Evelyn Schwartz Endowed Award for novice teachers went to UTEP alumni Citlali Avalos, Ivette M. Falcon, Yessica Fernandez Acosta, Daniel Rangel and Benjamin R. Vega. These five awardees demonstrated innovative work with students and teaching practices such as integration of technology and interdisciplinary curricula. They also showed the ability to work with parents and the school community.
Organizers gave the John and Gloria Lavis Excellence Award for mentor teachers to Judy R. Amaya, Hilda Dominguez, Natalie E. Lopez, Frania P. Paugh, Troy L. Payne, Nancy A. Rubio and Gloria A. Zafiro-Salazar. The mentor awards honored excellence in teaching and dedication to mentoring teacher candidates. Judges recognized the influence good mentors have on professional development and career advancement. The award recipients served as a mentor/cooperating teacher for a UTEP teacher candidate in the past two years, and demonstrated a positive mentoring relationship with a teacher candidate.
Each novice teacher received $1,000, while each mentor teacher earned $2,500.
The purpose of the Schwartz and Lavis awards is to encourage new teachers and mentor teachers to continue to develop their teaching skills and to advocate for their profession. Some of the common threads among the winners included student commitment, creative and engaging lesson plans, participation in extracurricular activities and a great attitude.
Clifton Tanabe, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education, said this signature event acknowledged the best of area educators as well as the benefactors who help fund the college’s successful programs, especially in teacher preparation. He said it was especially important to recognize excellence this year because of the stress and hardships generated by the pandemic. He considered the college’s event a “fantastic” team-building event.
“We are grateful and thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate and recognize incredible educators and vital partnerships with Region 19 school districts and community organizations, which are committed to providing every single student in El Paso with the absolute highest quality education possible,” Tanabe said. “The unique and powerful way our region collaborates to support educators is an incredible strength, and the future of education in our region is very bright because of this unique strength.”
Tanabe also recognized several of the college’s community partners to include Workforce Solutions Borderplex and Leila Melendez, the organization’s chief executive officer. The dean said Melendez and her agency, along with CREEED and the El Paso Community Foundation, were instrumental partners in the college’s teacher residency program and provided support for the teachers honored at the event.
Susana Aguirre, director of the college’s Strategic Engagement and Planning and the event’s lead organizer, said that the college received almost 60 nominations total for both categories. A four-person committee made up of college administrators reviewed the nominations.