Brazosport Independent School District Principal Melania Gutierrez was surprised by H-E-B on Thursday with news that she was named a principal finalist for the 2017 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards, one of the largest monetary programs for educators in Texas and the nation.
Mrs. Gutierrez, principal at Stephen F. Austin STEM Academy in Jones Creek, is one of 40 educators across the state to be selected as an award finalist. She now will go on to compete at the state level, where she will have the chance to win additional cash prizes. Gutierrez, who has led SFA since 2010, was surprised during a school assembly with a check for $1,000 for herself, and a check for $2,500 for the school.
“I am incredibly honored,” said Gutierrez, a BISD graduate herself and a 26 year veteran educator. “We are on an incredible journey here at the SFA STEM Academy. I am so proud of our students and staff. Every day, the kind and caring staff here at SFA work together to provide rigorous and relevant learning experiences, preparing all of our students to be future ready.”
Superintendent Danny Massey attended the surprise announcement at SFA, and described Gutierrez as a “true servant” to the school. “Mrs. Gutierrez is an outstanding leader, one that leads by example,” stated Massey.
Melania Gutierrez received her Bachelor’s from Texas A&M University and her Masters in Education from the University of Houston, Victoria. Gutierrez taught in Katy ISD and Brazosport ISD, grades 6th - high school. She has been a principal in Columbia-Brazoria ISD and in Brazosport ISD.
H-E-B launched the Excellence in Education Awards program in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators in 2002 as a positive way to support public education in Texas. It has become the largest monetary program for educators in the state, spotlighting best practices and celebrating the passion and creativity of Texas educators.
H-E-B asks customers, community members, and H-E-B Partners (employees) to nominate teachers, principals, districts, early childhood facilities and school boards in Texas. Each nominee is sent an invitation to complete an application online and is asked about their professional experiences, educational philosophies and achievements both in and out of the classroom.
A team of judges reviews the applications, narrowing the field to semi-finalists. From that pool, five regional judging panels comprised of former winners, administrators, and university and community leaders not affiliated with H-E-B select 40 teacher and principal finalists. Finalists and their schools receive a cash prize of $1,000 to $2,500, depending on category.
Teacher and principal finalists are invited to Austin May 6, 2017 to compete on a statewide level for larger cash prizes totaling more than $400,000. A statewide panel of judges, not affiliated with H-E-B, conducts a personal interview with each finalist to select winners. Eight winners— two principals and six teachers— will be announced at a celebratory dinner on May 7, 2017. Each winning principal—one elementary school and one high school—will each receive $10,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their schools.