KISD Honors Teachers of the Year

KISD teachers of the year 2019
By: Todd Martin
Drawing out the suspense with touching video testimony and Hollywood spotlight entrances, Killeen ISD leaders revealed Tuesday this year’s district teachers of the year.
Clifton Park Elementary School music teacher Shannon Gallinger and Early College High School math teacher Jonathan “Marc” Jones received this year’s top honors.
“Very shocked and very humbled,” said Gallinger after the ceremony of her reaction. “Every teacher here deserves this.”
Upon stepping to the stage to receive her award, the elementary teacher of the year watched as her principal, then some of her students and their parents praised her. They mentioned her commitment to take students into the public, including to a hospital to sing to soldier patients.
The 15-year KISD teacher said it was powerful to see students and parents on video describe her influence. “You don’t realize the day to day impact you have,” she said. “It’s overwhelming to see that.”
“Music has the power to bring people together,” she said, explaining her motivation to teach elementary music. “It’s a source of light, even one concert or one song makes a difference.”
Jones said his heart was racing as he took the stage to accept the secondary teacher of the year award. “I can’t wait to tell my students tomorrow,” he said.
He reflected on a question that was part of the teacher of the year process to describe your most challenging student. Thinking about the question, he said, led him to realize that his students are not challenging, only the situations that many of them face.
Helping students to overcome obstacles, he said, helps to build relationships. “There is a champion in each of them,” he said.
Teaching at the four-year-old Early College High School, now celebrating its first senior class has been motivating for the award-winning teacher. “It’s made me a better teacher,” Jones said. “Everyone knew it would take energy to build this school and we have a spectacular team with such a strong sense of family.”

As the campus teachers of the year entered the ballroom, each stepped into a spotlight with a chosen student escort.
Teachers and students waved to the crowd with their image magnified on huge screens above, then joined their table with colleagues and family members.
Each school selected its campus-level teacher of the year for the 2018-2019 school year and through application, interview and classroom observation, a community panel selected finalists and the two teachers of the year.
Elementary finalists include Andrea Dykes of Willow Springs, Abbygayle Brewington of Alice W. Douse, Frantz Gourgue of Hay Branch, Keri Reynolds of Montague Village, Ashlee Pittman of Skipcha and Tamara Ford of Maxdale.
Secondary finalists include Abby Roberts of Ellison High School, Allison Shopbell of Liberty Hill Middle School, Aubry White of Manor Middle School and Donielle Thornton of Union Grove Middle School.
The process that culminated with the surprise announcement Tuesday was the ninth year for KISD to formally select teachers of the year.
Gallinger and Jones are now KISD’s representatives for the Region 12 Education Service Center teacher of the year process that feeds into the state and national teachers of the year system.
Last year’s award-winners, Angelica Rodriguez of Douse Elementary School and Joseph Merlo of Ellison High School, praised this year’s candidates for earning the respect of their peers.
Near the start of the ceremony, Rodriguez praised the new campus teachers of the year for taking the time to make learning meaningful and fun. She pointed out that the teaching profession only gets tougher and it also matters.
Near the end, Merlo told the honored teachers they are leaders on their campus and urged them “to keep their sleeves rolled up” to use their skills to maximum advantage.
“You were chosen as the finest teacher on your team,” the Ellison High School Junior ROTC instructor said. “Embrace your role as a campus leader.”