Teacher of the Year Begins

Joseph Merlo encourages new teacher of the year candidates
By: Todd Martin
Fifty-two high-achieving Killeen ISD teachers stepped into the studio spotlight and entered the school district’s pathway to teacher of the year.
This year’s campus representatives for teacher of the year posed Tuesday for their official portraits and heard from the district’s current teachers of the year as they begin the process toward the surprise announcements May 21 at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
The peer-chosen candidates compete to represent KISD as 2019-2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year and Secondary Teacher of the Year and enter the Region 12 Teacher of the Year process.
After sitting for their closeup in the KISD Career Center studio, this year’s candidates received inspiration from Elementary Teacher of the Year Angelica Rodriguez and Secondary Teacher of the Year Joseph Merlo.
The pair of honorees assured this year’s representatives that the most challenging part, an extensive reflective essay, is behind them. They also congratulated the teachers for earning praise from their campus colleagues.
In the weeks to come, the teacher of the year representatives will share their personal stories to a panel of community members and educators and will undergo classroom observations.
Telling your story is enjoyable, Rodriguez said, because the panel members are supportive of teachers and interested in hearing their inspiring words.
“You are the best in the district,” said Merlo, Ellison High School lead JROTC instructor and the KISD and Region 12 Secondary Teacher of the Year. He reminded the teachers they have already won by earning the nomination from their colleagues.
Clifton Park Elementary School music teacher Shannon Gallinger is a campus teacher of the year for the second time. She was an elementary finalist in 2012.
Since her name appeared on the school marquee, she said her students are excited and sense that they are as much in the running as their music teacher. “It’s an honor,” she said. “It’s actually very humbling.”
“My students are excited,” Gallinger said. “They are saying ‘we’re going to win.’ They are really a part of it.”
Career Center radio broadcasting teacher Jamie Garrett, the voice of the Teacher of the Year event is now his school’s candidate for the award. He said he feels like expectations are high, based on past candidates from the Career Center.
He also likes the idea of continuing to educate the community about the strong offerings at the Career Center and the professional opportunities of Career and Technical Education.
“It’s a little surprising,” he said. “I have big shoes to fill. I am looking forward to showcasing what’s happening at the Career Center.”
This year’s Killeen ISD teacher of the year campus representatives include the following:
Elementary School representatives:
Alice Douse Elementary
Abbygayle Brewington
Bellaire Elementary
Stephanie McElhatten
Brookhaven Elementary
David Udy
Cedar Valley Elementary
Teresa Mitchell
Clarke Elementary
Patty Robinson
Clear Creek Elementary
Orlando Arzola
Clifton Park Elementary
Shannon Gallinger
Fowler Elementary
Katherine Dixon
East Ward
Chelsey Wasson
Harker Heights Elementary
Beatriz Molina
Hay Branch Elementary
Frantz Gourgue
Haynes Elementary
Brittany Franz
Iduma Elementary
Jessica Lewis
Ira Cross Elementary
Jenna McArthur
Maxdale Elementary
Tamara Ford
Meadows Elementary
Nora Kim
Montague Village Elementary
Keri Reynolds
Mountain View Elementary
Carol Hunter
Nolanville Elementary
Tammy Hubbs
Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary
Monica Rodarte
Peebles Elementary
Anya Morehead
Pershing Park Elementary
Amanda Seals
Reeces Creek Elementary
Latrice Roberts
Richard Cavazos Elementary
Laura Shackelford
Saegert Elementary
Alisa Farmer
Skipcha Elementary
Ashlee Rogers-Pittman
Sugar Loaf Elementary
Tiffany Robinson
Timber Ridge Elementary
Jennifer Tyger
Trimmier Elementary
Jerrie Cooper
Venab;e Village Elementary
Deidre Robinson
West Ward Elementary
Michele Golaboff
Willow Springs Elementary
Andrea Dykes
Middle School representatives:
Audie Murphy Middle School
Janet Sutton
Charles Patterson Middle School
Georgia Salyer
Eastern Hills Middle School
Blake Thomason
Gateway Middle School
Chris Martin
Liberty Hill Middle School
Allison Shopbell
Live Oak Ridge Middle School
Terrie Jackson
Manor Middle School
Aubry White
Nolan Middle School
Larry Hunter
Rancier Middle School
Anna Rodriguez
Smith Middle School
Michaela Eikansas
Union Grove Middle School
Donielle Thornton
High School representatives:
Ellison High School
Abby Roberts
Early College High School
Marc Jones
Gateway High School
Blake Harrup
Harker Heights High School
Aly Flynt
Killeen High School
Kathy Torres
KISD Career Center
Jamie Garrett
Pathways Academic Campus
Barbara Fitzgerald
Shoemaker High School
Jennifer Bibler