Terrific Teachers, Exemplary Educators – NISD teachers win state and national accolades

Terrific Teachers

Northside ISD teachers and staff members continue to be shining lights at the state and national level. They are wonderful role-models and exceptional examples of excellence to their peers, colleagues, and students as they continue to traverse an unprecedented time in education. Here are the latest employees who have won state and national accolades.


Secondary State Teacher of the Year Finalist. Miguel Mendez, the Program Coordinator at The Holmgreen Center and the 2021-2022 Region 20 Secondary Teacher of the Year, is one of three outstanding educators who has been chosen as a finalist in the 2022 Texas Teacher of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). Each finalist will be interviewed in mid-October by a panel of judges who will select two state-level winners, Elementary Teacher of the Year and Secondary Teacher of the Year. One of those two winners will be designated to represent Texas in the National Teacher of the Year program.


Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award. Jennifer Cain, an Advanced Placement/Dual Credit U.S. History teacher at O’Connor HS, is the recipient of a 2021 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award from Humanities Texas. Cain is in her sixth year at O’Connor, where she also serves as the Social Studies Department Coordinator.

The Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Awards recognize exemplary K-12 humanities teachers. Each year, 12 teachers are selected to receive a $5,000 cash award and an additional $1,000 for their respective schools to purchase humanities-based instructional materials. Cain is one of only three in the San Antonio area and one of 12 in the state to receive this prestigious honor.


Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Fatimah Aboueisha, a science teacher at Brandeis High School, is one of six Texas finalists for the 2021 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The PAEMST Awards are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching.

Aboueisha has been teaching for six years, and the 2021-2022 school year will be her third year at Brandeis where she also serves as Science Department Coordinator in addition to teaching biology and chemistry.

The Awards were established by Congress in 1983. The President may recognize up to 108 exemplary teachers each year. Two finalists from the state will be recognized at the national level, which includes a trip to Washington D.C., a $10,000 award, and a signed certificate from the President of the United States. Additional details here.


Outstanding Career and Technical Education Administrator. Deborah Ruel-Schaefer, Director of Career and Technical Education, was selected as the 2021 Outstanding CTE Administrator by the Family and Consumer Sciences Teachers Association of Texas (FCSTAT) Awards Program. The Outstanding Administrator award is given to a CTE administrator who has made consistent and outstanding contributions in support of Family and Consumer Sciences Education.


Outstanding Middle and High School Principals. The Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) named its Outstanding Middle and High School Principals and two NISD principals are representing Region 20.  Robert Harris, Principal at Harlan High School is the Region 20 High School Principal of the Year; and Lou Medina, Principal at Stinson Middle School, is the Region 20 Middle School Principal of the Year.


Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. For the second year in a row, Jay HS automotive technology teacher John Gunderson is a national finalist for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. Gunderson has been teaching at Jay since 2005, and also serves as the campus Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department Coordinator.

The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize honors excellent teaching in skilled trades education in United States public high schools. Gunderson is one of 61 national finalists representing 30 states. In October, 18 winners will be selected for monetary awards totaling over $1 million. Additional details found here.