TEA News Release 2

TEA News Releases Online

Nov. 12, 2012


State Board of Education to honor 15 Texans
with 2012 Heroes for Children Award

Public school volunteers demonstrate character, heart and passion 


AUSTIN – The State Board of Education (SBOE) announced today that 15 Texans who have provided thousands of hours of volunteer service to Texas public schools will be honored with the Heroes for Children award at the SBOE meeting on Nov. 16.

These volunteers from across Texas will be recognized for their passionate and strong desire to give back to their communities and schools, their numerous days and hours spent providing this service, and their hard work to improve the lives of children.

The board will recognize these 15 school volunteers – one from each SBOE district – in a ceremony on Friday, Nov. 16, in Room 1-104 of the William B. Travis State Office Building, 1701 N. Congress Ave., in Austin.  The Heroes ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

The Heroes for Children honorees are selected by the State Board members and recognized for volunteering their time, talents and skills to help improve the public schools in their communities. Each hero will receive a certificate of honor, a copy of the resolution scheduled for board approval, and photographs commemorating the ceremony. Each hero will also have his or her name engraved on a plaque that is permanently displayed at Texas Education Agency headquarters.

The State Board of Education meeting will be broadcast live online. A link to the webcast will be posted at http://www.texasadmin.com/tea.shtml.  

Recipients of the 2012 Heroes for Children award (along with a brief description of the contributions each has made to Texas schoolchildren) appear below:

  • Georgia Hayse (Ector County ISD – SBOE District 1)

Hayse has served for 21 years as a volunteer in the Ector County Independent School District.  She has volunteered almost 14,000 hours at Gonzalez Elementary and Milan Elementary schools, Bonham Junior High and Permian High School and has touched the lives of approximately 11,500 students.  She has served as the chair of the Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) program for many years and has performed many tasks including grading papers, copying, building bulletin boards, helping move classrooms over the summer, Red Ribbon Week projects, mentoring and tutoring students, and providing supplies to students in need.

  • Patricia Haibach (Corpus Christi ISD – SBOE District 2)

Haibach is recognized for her more than 300 volunteer hours and participating in the VIPS program and for sharing each day with the kindergarten students at Club Estates Elementary School in the Corpus Christi ISD.  Her efforts include helping students read, assisting the school nurse with the required vision and hearing screenings; and participating as a classroom resource speaker.   

  • Rachel Ponce (San Antonio ISD – SBOE District 3)

Ponce has been described as a strong advocate and voice for the children of the San Antonio ISD and for her neighborhood and community.  Ponce has served on almost every district-level committee and does so with a caring, generous and passionate attitude described as an inspiration to all.

  • Margaret Wilgis (Houston ISD – SBOE District 4)

A volunteer at the Garden Oaks Elementary School in the Houston ISD, Wilgis has recruited nearly 100 volunteers over the past four years to tutor students in grades prekindergarten through sixth.  In addition to being a mentor, Wilgis coordinates special events for the mentors and mentees; serves on the campus Shared Decision Making Committee; and advocates for students with special needs both on and off campus.  

  • Ralph Pfluger (Hays CISD – SBOE District 5)

In 1967, Pfluger was named one of the original school board members of the Hays Consolidated ISD. For the past 45 years, he made many outstanding contributions to student learning by being one of the district’s most dedicated volunteers.  Pfluger has had a great impact on the entire community and spends countless hours in support of children who have challenges to overcome in their lives.  

  • Carol R. Zelle (Alief ISD – SBOE District 6)

Zelle has been a volunteer at Boone Elementary School in the Alief ISD for the last 10 years.  She works with prekindergarten through first grade students helping them build reading, math and writing skills.  She can also be counted on to help when the school has special activities such as Field Days, garage sales and field trips, dedicating her time and resources to make these events successful.

  • Lynn E. Wright (Galena Park ISD – SBOE District 7)

Twenty-five years ago, Wright began volunteering with STARBASE – an Air Force program designed to give fourth through seventh graders a new perception of science, math and technology outside of the classroom.  After retiring from the United States Air Force, he began volunteering with the Air Force Junior ROTC cadets at North Shore High School in the Galena Park ISD and has spent the last 10 years overseeing and conducting the school’s Radio Controlled Aircraft and Model Rocketry programs.

  • Cherrie Edwards (Magnolia ISD – SBOE District 8)

After a 25-year career teaching gifted and talented students, Edwards retired from the Magnolia ISD. But because she is so passionate about gifted and talented education, she now organizes and runs many of the clubs – as a volunteer on her own time – that she used to sponsor. Edwards also works with the district’s problem-solving group including taking students to international competitions.

  • Sunita Patel (Frisco ISD – SBOE District 9)

Patel has been a volunteer in the Frisco ISD for seven years volunteering as a room parent for Smith Elementary School and as a board member for the Parent-Teacher Association.  She also serves as the Destination Imagination chairman, overseeing 24 teams of 150 students that have won honors at the regional, state and global competitions.

  • Abby Alderete (Thrall ISD – SBOE District 10)

Alderete is a volunteer in the Thrall ISD where she works everyday with the prekindergarten class at the Thrall Elementary School.  She works with the struggling students, assists with management control, shepherds students to the nurse’s office, assists with the art center, reads to classes and much more.  She has taught students to see beyond a person’s physical abilities and to be more accepting of people who are physically disabled.

  • Jerry Durant (Weatherford ISD – SBOE District 11)

Durant has provided volunteer leadership, support and monetary assistance to the Weatherford ISD for more than 20 years.  His service has included serving as a founding director of the Weatherford ISD Education Foundation, the Weatherford High School Project Opportunity Scholarship Foundation, and a donation of land for a new high school facility.    

  • Jeff Livingston (Irving ISD – SBOE District 12)

A volunteer in the Irving ISD, Livingston gives his time to educate students, parents and educators about health issues.  He does everything he can to help spread his message to teens regarding pregnancy and STD prevention.  Livingston also sponsors a Teenage Parent and Parenting (TAPPS) workshop each spring on child development, parenting, child abuse prevention, healthy relationships and other health information.

  • N. Carolyn Wicker (Grand Prairie ISD – SBOE District 13)

Wicker has served on the Grand Prairie ISD Education Foundation board for the last 15 years. In addition, she is a founding member of the district’s Kindness Across the Prairie Anti-Bullying Task Force and she is passionate about improving education for children.  She has donated countless business hours serving as an advocate for education and has made significant financial contributions in support of her advocacy.

  • Virgie L. Lee (Newcastle ISD – SBOE District 14)

Lee, a volunteer in the Newcastle ISD, gives her time and energy to the students of the Newcastle Elementary School. For the past two years, she has helped with mentoring and reading to the second grade class and assisted students with phonics, spelling, grammar, writing, social studies and other areas of the curriculum. Lee also works with the BackPack Buddies, making sure that several Newcastle students have backpacks filled with nutritious food to take home on the weekends so they will not go hungry. 

  • Bob Tate (Lubbock ISD – SBOE District 15)

Tate is an inspiration to coworkers and the Lubbock community with his volunteer work in the Lubbock ISD.  Tate has mentored and initiated several support programs for the students at Bozeman Elementary School including securing $7,000 in school supplies.  He has also served on the LISD Foundation for Excellence board for 10 years and been an overall advocate for education for more than 30 years.


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