KISD Announces October STEEL Award Winners

UGMS science teacher Albert GonzalezMaude Moore Wood Elementary School Cafeteria Manager Patricia Johnson and Union Grove Middle School science teacher Albert Gonzalez are Killeen ISD STEEL Award winners for October.


Superintendent Jo Ann Fey joined a group of senior school district leaders and campus administrators in presenting the surprise awards at each school.


STEEL stands for Supporting the Education and Empowerment of Learners.


Patricia Johnson – Maude Moore Wood Elementary

In the early 1990s Johnson and her husband agreed she needed a job that would parallel their young children’s schedule, so she found one working in the cafeteria at Duncan Elementary School, located on what was then Fort Hood.


She found more than a job with a convenient schedule.


She started working in the school cafeteria in 1992 and stayed until the school closed 24 years later. Johnson moved on to Alice Douse Elementary School in 2017 and a few years later when Maude Moore Wood Elementary opened, she was tapped to manage the cafeteria.

Wood cafeteria manager Patricia Johnson


Now in her 31st year in KISD, Johnson said it’s the children that motivate her.


“For some, you are the first face they see,” she said. “It’s a chance to interact and talk with them. When you tell a child, ‘Good morning, how are you,’ it’s truly helps them. From there, they say, ‘Good morning.’”


“It’s what you make out of it,” she said of the work. “You have to like it. You have to like kids period. If you go into it and you can’t deal with kids, it’s best for you to not get into it. That’s my opinion.”


Even when a child seems oblivious, the longtime school cafeteria worker said they are listening.


“They don’t forget. They come back and say, ‘Good morning,’ It makes you feel good. You can say things to make them feel good. They enjoy it. I enjoy it.”


According to the STEEL Award nomination, Johnson’s “hard work in leading this team as they provide healthy meals has helped create a welcoming atmosphere that truly embodies the spirit of supporting the education and empowerment of our learners.”


The three words to describe the cafeteria manager are dependable, servant leader, and personable.


“Ms. Johnson exudes the saying, “service with a smile”, with steel-like determination, she does everything necessary to run the most efficient and effective cafeteria with exceptional customer service,” Principal Amber Dibble said.


A popular middle school science teacher who coaches golf and sponsors an afterschool STEM club is a Killeen ISD STEEL Award winner.

UG science teacher Albert Gonzalez

Albert Gonzalez – Union Grove Middle School

Albert Gonzalez taught at the college level 12 years at Tarleton State University and Texas A&M University Central Texas. During much of that time, he managed a local automotive business.


Later, he made the move to teaching at the middle school level, where he has been for 17 years, all at Union Grove Middle School.


“The realization that I have a purpose,” he said, is what keeps him teaching.


Once or twice a year a former student seems to come up to him and surprise him with memories of Gonzalez’s class that led them to a particular job or other important life decision.


“Most of the time it’s the kids who seem to be flying under the radar who are hanging on every word you say,” he said.


“I can’t think of a better compliment than knowing that I had some effect on a student’s life. That’s the biggest award I can think of receiving.”


Union Grove Principal Paula Lawrason chose the words passionate, caring and student-driven to describe the science teacher.


Every student gets a nickname based on their name or personality and they treasure those names,” the principal said in the nomination.


“We hear the line of former students coming back to greet you during Meet the Teacher Night is like standing in line for a ride at Disney World.”


He also is known for exciting, relevant science lessons that tend to move students to a greater love of the content area.


“We’re here to thank you,” the nomination stated, “not just for the memorable lessons, but for building strong relationships with your students and their families.”


The STEEL awards, made of steel and fabricated, polished, and painted by KISD Career Center students, embody strength, resilience, and durability.

Career Center weldingCareer Center automotive