4 NISD educators are the best in Texas

4 HEB state finalists from NISD

Two Northside ISD principals and two teachers are finalists in the 2020 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards.

The surprise announcements were made by Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods and H-E-B representatives this week.


Dr. Jerry Woods, Principal, Clark High School

De’Ann Upright, Principal, McAndrew Elementary School

Dr. Raquel Cataldo, Teacher, Helotes Elementary School

Priscilla Prather, Teacher, Folks Middle School


Clark High School Principal Dr. Jerry Woods was so focused on what he thought was a video shoot with Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods, he had no idea that there was a special crowd gathering in the school library just feet away from him. Woods is a finalist in the “Secondary Principal” category. He has been a high school principal for eight years, all at Clark HS. Previously, he served as vice principal at Brandeis HS and as an assistant principal, science teacher, and tennis coach in North East ISD. He earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2005 from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

McAndrew ES Principal De’Ann Upright shouted “Wisdom” and hundreds of McAndrew ES Highlanders called back, “conquers fate!” The assembly about “McHabitudes,” behavior expectations for students, was underway when the H-E-B team descended. She was stunned to be named a finalist in the “Elementary Principal” category and quickly pointed to her staff as the reason for the recognition. Upright has served as principal of McAndrew ES since the school opened in 2013. Previously, she was principal at Powell ES, vice principal at Raba ES, and a teacher for 14 years at Glenn and Ward elementary schools.

Dr. Raquel Cataldo and her class had their favorite books in their laps and were waiting patiently for a Dr. Seuss-themed school assembly in the Helotes cafeteria with the Superintendent. She was speechless when she was called up to the front. Currently a fourth grade Special Education teacher, Cataldo is a finalist in the “Lifetime Achievement- Elementary” category which honors teachers with more than 20 years of experience. Though she has been at her current campus for 2 ½ years, her career in education spans more than 30 years in Northside ISD, Texas, Colorado, Mississippi, and Germany. She earned her doctorate in 2018 from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Priscilla Prather didn’t think anything was amiss when her principal asked her to be prepared to take photos because she had won a grant, a regular occurrence to bring her innovative classroom ideas to life. The Family and Consumer Science teacher at Folks MS was instead greeted by multiple cameras and a huge group that included H-E-Buddy. Prather is a finalist in the “Rising Star- Secondary” category, which honors teachers with less than 10 years of experience. Prather has been teaching at Folks MS since the school opened in 2013 and came to teaching as a second career. She strives to inspire students every day and encourages them to “Make Epic Happen!”    

The state finalists were each awarded money for themselves and their schools.

They are among 40 finalists in the state. Nominations were submitted earlier this year by H-E-B customers, employees, and community members and a team of judges narrowed the field to the finalists. In May they will be interviewed by a panel of judges before the grand prize winners are announced.

The H-E-B awards program was launched in 2002 in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators to honor outstanding educators. Northside ISD was named best district in the state in 2005, the first year awards were bestowed on districts.

Last year, Stevenson Middle School teacher Jodi Ramos was honored as the state winner in the “Lifetime Achievement- Secondary” category.