In Northside ISD, learning and success go far beyond test scores and accountability ratings. Northside's curriculum is based on six "Pillars of Character," developed by the Josephson Institute. The pillars are: Caring, Citizenship, Fairness, Responsibility, Respect, and Trustworthiness.
Teachers weave lessons about the pillars into classroom activities, and every year, the Northside Education Foundation selects six NISD graduates to represent each Pillar of Character. The six alumni serve as the centerpiece at the Foundation's annual fundraising gala and each must make a commitment to visit schools and speak with students.
A poster of the current year's pillars hangs in all 6,000 classrooms in Northside to remind students that everyone has the potential to be a Pillar of Character.
Pillars can be nominated by anyone in the community by completing the pillars nomination form. All nominees must be a Northside graduate. For more information, call the NISD Partnerships office at (210) 397-8599.
Pillar of Learning
For Diana Ely, the first Pillar of Learning, family goes beyond her husband and two children, beyond her mother and brothers, and beyond even her close friends. Her family is across Northside ISD, from her first faculty and students at Zachry Middle School to the colleagues she has influenced through her work as the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning.
A true product of Northside, Diana’s career has been one of service. First as a teacher and administrator, and now in her current role providing professional training and learning, she said she feels most successful when colleagues apply what they learned as practice in their classrooms, departments, and campuses. Diana started her academic career at Shenandoah Elementary School (now Howsman Elementary School), then Hobby Middle School before graduating from Marshall High School. In high school, she was a member of the Student Council, Office Education Association, and a cheerleader.
These high school experiences gave her the confidence and dynamic speaking style she is well known for, and started her passion for leadership and professional development. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in Education/Mid-Management from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Additionally, she is a 2016 Learning Forward International Academy graduate. She and her husband David are the proud parents of Taylor and Wyatt, both carrying forward the family tradition of careers in education.
Pillar of Trustworthiness
During a school conference meeting two years ago, Jasmin A. Dean learned one of her sons was dyslexic. Unsure of where to find more information, she did her own research. The result was the formation of “Celebrate Dyslexia,” a local non-profit that raises awareness about dyslexia and serves as a resource for parents and schools. As co-founder and Executive Director, Jasmin’s life mission is to dispel myths about the condition and provide facts and help for parents facing the same diagnosis. Her organization has partnered with Whiteboard Exhibits to present a traveling exhibit, “Beautiful Minds: Dyslexia and the Creative Advantage”, at the DoSeum through March 2021 and later nationally.
Jasmin attended Hobby Middle School and graduated from Clark High School. She excelled academically and was a member of the National Honor Society, the marching band, and the jazz ensemble. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis on music marketing and a master’s degree in music from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
After living abroad, as a result of her husband’s military service, she chose to come back to San Antonio to plant permanent roots in a city that has always felt like home. She also wanted her children to attend Northside ISD schools because Northside means opportunity and encompasses the hopes and dreams she has for her children. Jasmin and her husband Jeffrey are the proud parents of Jonah, Jordan, and Joshua, all students at Northside schools.
Pillar of Citizenship
Growing up in Texas, Julia Barton Murphy spent summers riding her bicycle all over her neighborhood enjoying the Hill Country with her brothers. Sun up to sun down, she rode and played outdoors. It wasn’t until she left San Antonio and then returned to raise her family that she learned to appreciate its beauty and vulnerability.
As the Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of San Antonio, Julia and her team work to advance energy efficiency, clean transportation, air quality, and natural resource conservation through policy, community programs, and projects that advance the quality of life in San Antonio. She is passionate about protecting and enhancing urban biodiversity, and volunteers with various environmental organizations whose projects range from building trails, establishing community gardens, regenerating green and open space, and encouraging access to nature.
After various adventuresome jobs that took her across the country and to Europe, she returned home to raise her two daughters in Northside ISD. Murphy attended Hobby Middle School and graduated in the top ten at Clark High School. At Clark, she played in the marching band, was a member of the French Club, and was an officer in the Student Council. She also served as president of AFS (American Field Service,) which led to her becoming a foreign exchange student and fueled her love of travel and curiosity of world cultures. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing and a master’s degree in community and regional planning from The University of Texas at Austin.
She and her husband John are the proud parents of Grace and Madeleine, both Clark High School graduates like their mother. In her spare time, Julia enjoys photographing pollinators, gardening, and raising backyard chickens.
Pillar of Fairness
There are moments in our lives that have a rippling effect. In 2018, John Picacio, award-winning cover illustrator for science fiction and fantasy books, was poised to serve as the Guest of Honor for the World Science Fiction Convention. It was only the third time the World Science Fiction Society had chosen someone to serve as both Guest of Honor and Hugo Awards Master of Ceremonies for its legendary event. John realized he was one of the youngest to receive the honor in the group’s then 76-year history, and the only Hispanic ever. In that moment, he decided to bring 42 emerging professional creators, both Mexican and Mexican-American, to the conference to ensure that he was not the last to hold such an honor. In that pivotal moment, The Mexicanx Initiative was born to create a pathway for success for other Hispanic writers and illustrators.
John is proud of all he has accomplished as an illustrator, earning numerous honors including three Hugo Awards, the World Fantasy Award, and the 2020 Solstice Award, wherein his name is now enshrined alongside visionaries such as astronomer Carl Sagan and authors Octavia E. Butler and Sir Terry Pratchett. However, he hopes that The Mexicanx Initiative will be his true legacy.
John attended Villarreal Elementary School, Ross and Neff middle schools, and graduated from Holmes High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from The University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife Traci are the proud parents of Samantha.
Pillar of Respect
At the age of three, Dr. Alicia Wooten was diagnosed as hard of hearing with progressive hearing loss. As a student at Carlos Coon Elementary School, she got by with lip reading, but she always felt something was missing. Then she attended the San Antonio Deaf Dance Company summer camp program during her middle school years. At the camp, she learned American Sign Language and found the missing piece of a puzzle.
Dr. Wooten credits Northside ISD for helping shape her into the successful professional scientist and advocate she is today. Dr. Wooten is an assistant professor at Gallaudet University in the Department of Science, Technology, and Math. She is champion for the Deaf community, especially those interested in the sciences. In fact, she and a fellow scientist founded Atomic Hands, an organization dedicated to making science accessible to all minority groups especially those in the Deaf community.
After Carlos Coon, Dr. Wooten attended Jordan Middle School, Health Careers High school, and graduated from Warren High School. In high school, she competed as part of the Latin Junior Classical League and was on the swim and water polo teams. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Translational Medicine from Boston University.
Pillar of Responsibility
Looking back on her time in Northside ISD, Dr. Erika Gonzalez has no regrets. She is filled with gratitude for the academic rigor of Health Careers High School that set her on the path to success. She is the CEO& President of both South Texas Allergy & Asthma Medical Professionals (STAAMP) and STAAMP Clinical Research.
For the past four years, she served as Chief of the Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology division at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio and as an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. She is an Adjunct Clinical Professor in Internal Medicine at the The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and is actively involved as a community leader including serving on the Board of Directors for CentroMed and as an Advisor to the Dean of Science Engineering & Technology at St. Mary’s University.
Dr. Gonzalez is chairwoman of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and recently started Con Corazon San Antonio, a local non-profit. At the state level, she sits on the Board for the Texas Allergy Society and is on the Stock Epinephrine Committee with the Texas Department of State Health Services.
She graduated magna cum laude from St. Mary’s University, earned a medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and served for 10 years as a medical officer in the United States Air Force.
Pillar of Caring
Walking through the halls of Health Careers High School for the first time, Lorenzo Gomez, III, saw two students accidently bump into each other. He watched them apologize to each other and move on.
For the newly transferred student, who up to that point had lived with fear and anxiety throughout his academic career at another school district, it was a pivotal moment. Lorenzo had finally found a school where he could let go of the fear that had plagued him. At the magnet school, he found peace. He says Health Careers High School was a place for him to recover, surrounded by teachers and students who would push him to be better. It also was where he found a best friend who introduced him to the world of technology, and led him on the road to success and philanthropy.
Today, Lorenzo is the co-founder and CEO of Geekdom Media and co-founder of The 80/20 Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to investing in the future of San Antonio. He served as CEO of Geekdom, Texas’ largest co-working space, and is the best-selling author of The Cilantro Diaries: Business Lessons From The Most Unlikely Places and Tafolla Toro: Three Years of Fear.
|Diana Ely||Learning||Marshall High School||2020|
|Jasmin A. Dean||Trustworthiness||Clark High School||2020|
|Julia Barton Murphy||Citizenship||Clark High School||2020|
|John Picacio||Fairness||Holmes High School||2020|
|Dr. Alicia Wooten||Respect||Warren High School||2020|
|Dr. Erika Gonzalez||Responsibility||Health Careers High School||2020|
|Lorenzo Gomez, III||Caring||Health Careers High School||2020|
|Judge Rosie Alvarado||Citizenship||Marshall High School||2019|
|Mark Tezel||Trustworthiness||Marshall High School||2019|
|Capt. Jordan Eddington||Respect||Taft High School||2019|
|Daniel Flores||Fairness||Warren High School||2019|
|J.D. Story||Responsibility||Clark High School||2019|
|Imelda Lopez Sanchez||Caring||Holmes High School||2019|
|Cynthia J. Mendoza, Ph.D.||Trustworthiness||Holmes High School||2018|
|Dr. Mark Moran||Responsibility||Clark High School||2018|
|Cathryn Walker||Respect||Warren High School||2018|
|Suzanne Schorlemer Bailey||Fairness||Clark High School||2018|
|Anthony Beverley||Citizenship||Jay High School||2018|
|Monica C. Mendez, PT, DPT||Caring||Marshall High School||2018|
|Michelle Fiedler Mikesh||Responsibility||Taft High School||2017|
|Lt. Col. Colette Topfer||Trustworthiness||Taft High School||2017|
|Kristina Riffle Semukete||Caring||Marshall High School||2017|
|Michael Dominguez||Citizenship||Jay High School||2017|
|Frank Hakspiel||Fairness||Clark High School||2017|
|Mark Langford||Respect||Marshall High School||2017|
|Dr. Todd Gureckis||Fairness||Health Careers High School||2016|
|Kara Wilson||Caring||Marshall High School||2016|
|Dr. Simran Jeet Singh||Respect||O’Connor High School||2016|
|Laura Silva Nieto||Citizenship||Holmes High School||2016|
|James “Drake” McLean||Responsibility||Marshall High School||2016|
|Lori Castro||Trustworthiness||Taft High School||2016|
|SFC Chris Branagan||Fairness||Jay High School||2015|
|Dr. Jorge Alvarez||Trustworthiness||Clark High School||2015|
|Dr. Mandie Alice Tibball Svatek||Respect||Marshall High School||2015|
|Gina Jones||Responsibility||Jay High School||2015|
|J. Patrick Burk||Caring||Clark High School||2015|
|William F. Raba||Citizenship||Marshall High School||2015|
|Dr. Edward Carl Elder||Caring||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2014|
|Kevin Wolff||Citizenship||Thomas C. Clark High School||2014|
|Dr. Meredith Rockeymoore Brooks||Responsibility||Health Careers High School||2014|
|Aaron Barker||Fairness||John Marshall High School||2014|
|James “Rad” Weaver||Respect||Jay and Clark High Schools||2014|
|Laura Elvia Hernández||Trustworthiness||John Jay High School||2014|
|Trey Martinez Fischer||Citizenship||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2013|
|Keyhla Calderon||Respect||John Jay High School||2013|
|Dr. Mike Flores||Responsibility||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2013|
|Coach Danny Padron||Fairness||John Jay High School||2013|
|Dr. Melissa Blough||Trustworthiness||Thomas C. Clark High School||2013|
|Scott Kafora||Caring||Marshall High School||2013|
|Uma Pemmaraju||Responsibility||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2012|
|Wade Cleary||Trustworthiness||Thomas C. Clark High School||2012|
|Eric G. Burns||Caring||Thomas C. Clark High School||2012|
|Monica Velasquez McIlwain||Respect||Thomas C. Clark High School||2012|
|Giancarlo “John” Ortega||Fairness||William H. Taft High School||2012|
|Dr. Martha Pritchett Mims||Citizenship||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2012|
|Charles E. Cantu||Responsibility||John Marshall High School||2011|
|William Hurd||Trustworthiness||John Marshall High School||2011|
|Woodrow Halstead III||Caring||John Marshall High School||2011|
|Paul Barton||Citizenship||Health Careers High School||2011|
|David Henderson||Fairness||William H. Taft High School||2011|
|Celina and Marina Suarez||Respect||John Marshall High School||2011|
|Heidi Bush||Respect||Mackey School||2010|
|Linda Goldfarb||Responsibility||John Jay High School||2010|
|Marcedes M. Fuller||Caring||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2010|
|Darold Williamson||Trustworthiness||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2010|
|Captain Janae C. Florance||Fairness||John Jay High School||2010|
|Diana Cruz-Zapata||Citizenship||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2010|
|Dr. Laurie Richardson||Caring||John Marshall High School||2009|
|Lt. Col. Scott Thomas||Citizenship||John Jay High School||2009|
|Crystal Brown-Tatum||Fairness||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2009|
|Col. Lisa C. Firmin||Respect||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2009|
|Dr. Kristin Held||Responsibility||John Marshall High School||2009|
|Chuck Cureau||Trustworthiness||John Marshall High School||2009|
|Dr. Fred Bryant||Respect||John Marshall High School||2008|
|Maj. Steven Gventer||Trustworthiness||Thomas C. Clark High School||2008|
|Charles "Chuck" Booker||Caring||John Jay High School||2008|
|Dr. Geoffrey Orsak||Citizenship||Thomas C. Clark High School||2008|
|Donna Eckert-Fields||Fairness||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2008|
|Tony Pelletier||Responsibility||John Jay High School||2008|
|Dr. Gurpaul Singh||Respect||John Marshall High School||2007|
|John Igo||Fairness||Locke Hill*||2007|
|Andy Ramirez||Caring||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2007|
|Dr. Douglas Meffert||Responsibility||John Marshall High School||2007|
|Dr. Lisa Meffert||Responsibility||John Marshall High School||2007|
|Brig. Gen. Michael Wilson||Trustworthiness||John Jay High School||2007|
|Greg Meffert||Responsibility||John Marshall High School||2007|
|Katy George||Sandra Day O'Connor High School||2007|
|Sarah Meffert Becher||Responsibility||John Marshall High School||2007|
|Col. (Ret) Jeff Meffert, M.D.||Responsibility||John Marshall High School||2007|
|Patrick Cornelius||Trustworthiness||John Marshall High School||2006|
|Michelle Ybarra||Responsibility||Thomas C. Clark High School||2006|
|Haroon Monis||Citizenship||Thomas C. Clark High School||2006|
|Col. Renita Foster Menyhert||Respect||John Jay High School||2006|
|Karen Grace||Fairness||William H. Taft High School||2006|
|Cliff Dugosh||Caring||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2006|
|Kathy Bosse Gore||Citizenship||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2005|
|Will Telford||Trustworthiness||Thomas C. Clark High School||2005|
|Dr. Scott R. Harper||Responsibility||John Marshall High School||2005|
|Dr. Shannon P. Marquez||Caring||John Jay High School||2005|
|Oscar Alvarado||Fairness||Thomas C. Clark High School||2005|
|Rev. Betty Meadows||Respect||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2005|
|Robert Reyes||Caring||William H. Taft High School||2004|
|Eldridge Burns Jr.||Responsibility||Thomas C. Clark High School||2004|
|Jeffrey Hoberman||Respect||Thomas C. Clark High School||2004|
|Tamry Haby Johnson||Citizenship||John Marshall High School||2004|
|Phillip C. McKee III||Fairness||Health Careers High School||2004|
|John Bordano||Trustworthiness||John Marshall High School||2004|
|Cris Bera||William H. Taft High School||2003|
|Rita Crockett||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2003|
|David Fisher||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2003|
|Elaine Mendoza-Gay||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2003|
|Tyrone Powers||John Jay High School||2003|
|Tamara Serwer||Thomas C. Clark High School||2003|
|Dr. Sara L. Gill||John Jay High School||2002|
|Rodolfo Gonzales||William H. Taft High School||2002|
|Priest Holmes||John Marshall High School||2002|
|Dean H. Krueger||John Marshall High School||2002|
|Mason Reddix||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2002|
|Dr. Maya Rockeymoore||John Jay High School||2002|
|Susan Evers||John Marshall High School||2001|
|Blake Warren Woolsey||Thomas C. Clark High School||2001|
|Xavier Benavides||William H. Taft High School||2001|
|Jay Fielden||Thomas C. Clark High School||2001|
|Garrett K. Peel||Health Careers High School||2001|
|Michael K. Hatchett||John Jay High School||2001|
|Glenn E. Gill||John Marshall High School||2000|
|Col. Catherine Bacon||John Jay High School||2000|
|Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil||John Jay High School||2000|
|Evan Young||Thomas C. Clark High School||2000|
|Lili Kristan||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2000|
|Scott Kercheville, MD||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||2000|
|Wallace B. Jefferson||John Jay High School||1999|
|Todd White||John Marshall High School||1999|
|John Cornyn||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||1999|
|Jennifer Guitierrez-Utberg||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||1999|
|Harriet Marmon Helmle||John Marshall High School||1999|
|Tom Yantis||Oliver Wendell Holmes High School||1999|