Though the celebrations were anything but typical, the behind-the-mask smiles were plenty as La Porte ISD representatives on May 21 surprised the 2020-21 district and rookie teachers of the year with the announcement of their selection.
La Porte Elementary teacher Shannon Fanning and Lomax Jr. High teacher Faith Miller will represent the district as the Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year, respectively, for 2020-21. Bayshore Elementary teacher Yelitza Cienfuegos is the 2020-21 District Rookie Teacher of the Year.
The three superlatives received their honors in the form of small group celebrations at their home campuses under the guise of a required meeting. Traditionally, the teachers of the year are announced at the annual Service Awards Banquet in the presence of about 300 colleagues.
“We didn’t want the COVID-19 social distancing requirements to put a damper on celebrating our honoree, so we had to be creative with it,” said Dr. Kade Griffin, Lomax Jr. High School principal.
La Porte Elementary Principal Carol Williams and Bayshore Elementary Principal Donna Spaugh concurred.
The teachers received yard signs, flowers, and balloons — not to mention some in-person fanfare from co-workers, campus and district administrators. Additional celebrations will take place throughout the year, including being honored by the Board of Trustees.
A panel of community and industry volunteers selects the district honorees from among the campus teachers of the year. A district committee reviews nominations to determine the rookie award.
Fanning and Miller will represent La Porte ISD in the Region 4 Teacher of the Year program, from which the honorees qualify to be considered for Texas Teacher of the Year.
Rookie of the Year – Yelitza Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos is a first-year kindergarten teacher at Bayshore Elementary School. She is a 2018 graduate of the University of Houston-Clear Lake, where she was a member of the National Honor Society and Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.
Elementary Teacher of the Year – Shannon Fanning
Fanning is a 17-year veteran educator who has taught 12 years of her career in La Porte. She has been a GT instructor, and has also taught dual language, and – for the past eight years – fifth-grade science. Fanning holds an M.A. in Teaching Leadership from Grand Canyon University and a B.A. in Education from Regis University.
Secondary Teacher of the Year – Faith Miller
Faith Miller has taught in La Porte since she graduated from East Central University in 2015. She is an eighth-grade math and algebra teacher and is also the math instructional team lead on her campus. Miller holds a B.S. in Mathematics with a Math Education concentration.
2020-21 Campus Teachers of the Year
James H. Baker Sixth - Jeff Collier
Bayshore Elementary - Kelsey Smith
College Park Elementary - Lynnsey Jackson
DAEP - Gloria Solomon
Heritage Elementary - Kimberley West
Jennie Reid Elementary - Kelli Llewellyn
La Porte Elementary - Shannon Fanning
La Porte H.S. (core) - Sarah Kotasek
La Porte H.S. (non-core) - Adrian Wiltz
La Porte Jr. High - Amy Woodall
Lomax Elementary - Denise Pool
Lomax Jr. High - (Donna) Faith Miller
Rizzuto Elementary - Courtney Prewitt
The Academy of Viola DeWalt - Jessica Emmons