Teacher of the Year Surprise Reveal 2022

KISD Reveals Teachers of the Year
By: Todd Martin
In surprise, livestreamed presentations Wednesday, two educators found out they are Killeen ISD teachers of the year.
The Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022 is Evelyn Joseph, a second-grade teacher at Cavazos Elementary School in her sixth year of teaching.
The Secondary Teacher of the Year is Kelly Berg, a history teacher at the KISD Career Center and a softball coach at Ellison High School with 35 years’ experience teaching.
Separate groups of district leaders, along with district Communications and Marketing staff members surprised the two teachers at their houses as Superintendent John Craft and other leaders expressed congratulations.
The two winning teachers won $5,000 cash prizes and became KISD’s entries in the Region 12 Education Service Center Teacher of the Year process.
Joseph and Berg emerged among 51 campus teachers of the year chosen at each KISD school. Curriculum leaders interviewed each candidate, visited their classrooms and pored over extensive essays.
At Berg’s house, a cheer erupted in the family living room as the group bearing his award waited on his doorstep.
The veteran history teacher praised his teaching colleagues and Career Center Principal Russell Porterfield, as well as past principals and peers. He also turned to his daughter, Samantha Berg, a secondary teacher of the year finalist and praised her.
“It’s been a blast of a journey,” said Berg, who said he considered retiring before this year. He recalled his first principal, Kathy Moore, who hired him at Nolan Middle School in 1987. The support and collegiality continues today. He praised the collaboration he enjoys at the Career Center.
“We look every day at how to have fun and we have a principal who lets us teach our style,” he said.
Berg said he looked forward to seeing his students again. “They challenge me to do more because they want more.”
The two Bergs have enjoyed a month of trash talk. “We’re a competitive family,” he said. “It’s been a lot of friendly banter. I’m proud of her,” he said of his daughter. “She will be a better teacher than me – not now, but some day.”
Samantha Berg, an eight-year KHS history teacher said she attended her dad’s class for two years as a student at Shoemaker High School and played softball for him two years. “I wouldn’t be here teaching and loving it without him,” he said. “His career has benefited hundreds more students he doesn’t even know.”
Elementary Teacher of the Year Evelyn Joseph also praised her family, teacher colleagues and supportive administrative team.
“It means everything to me,” she said of the award. “It means trust from colleagues, from administrators, the relationships I’ve built with students.”
When Joseph was a child, she discovered that her father, a businessman and pastor on an island in the Caribbean where she grew up couldn’t read. “I taught him to read, and I fell in love with teaching,” she said.
“I was born to do this,” Joseph said. “It’s my love and passion. To be chosen is humbling and confirmation. I’m walking in my blessings.”
Kelly Berg – Career Center
The longtime teacher and coach said he will “always be a classroom teacher. No other position exists that would equal or surpass the significance or honor of being a teacher.”
In his application, Berg described how he teaches the Civil Rights Movement and ties it to respecting others. He also emphasized the importance of building relationships with students.
“I firmly believe that relationships established come from mutual trust and respect,” he said. “Students want honest teachers, pushing them to be better. When the bonds of honesty are created, relationships blossom.”
Recalling a critical point in his career, Berg identified the transition of the Ellison Ninth-Grade Center to Shoemaker High School in 2000.
“It was at this point, in my 14th year teaching, that I realized the power and influence I had to make my school a better place,” he said. “I set out to master my subject matter in greater depth, especially teaching AP courses. I look back on that transition year and realize that is when I decided to devote the rest of my career to the classroom and to students.”
Evelyn Joseph – Cavazos Elementary
In a relatively short teaching career, Joseph has already served two years as a grade-level leader and currently is a mentor leading a first-year teacher.
She said she makes caring relationships the foundation for learning in her classroom. “All students can obtain academic growth,” she said in her application.
“To say the past two years in education have been incredibly challenging is an understatement,” she said in the written questionnaire. She described efforts to stay in touch with grade-level colleagues during the school shut down.
“We started each meeting excited to see everyone and ended each meeting grateful that we had each other to lean on,” she said.
“While the world of education was grappling with the ripple effects of COVID-19, I made certain my students and my second-grade team understood that although we could not control the changes caused by COVID-19, they would not have to deal with those changes alone.”
Elementary finalists are Alison Finch (Mountain View), Holly Landis (Maxdale), Crystal Barnum (Haynes), Rachel Dunton (Hobby), Warren Duke (Harker Heights) and Jane Hanley (Fowler).
Secondary finalists are Samantha Berg (Killeen High), Avery Polchinski (Eastern Hills), Sherry Giarrusso (Shoemaker High) and Angela Espada (Ellison High).
Ten KISD teacher of the year finalists received $1,000 prizes and the rest of the campus teachers of the year received $500.
More than 44,000 students returned to KISD classrooms following a semester of closure and a school year that mixed in-person and virtual learning.
“Many of you were faced with challenges far beyond a core subject area,” Craft said in comments broadcasted during the teacher of the year program. “Our students looked to you not only for instruction, but social and emotional support as well.”