HOUSTON – Nov. 14, 2018 – What started off as a “Houston Texans Day” assembly at Hirsch Elementary School on Tuesday morning actually turned out to be a surprise of a lifetime for two teachers.
Houston Texans linebacker Brian Peters and representatives from First Community Credit Union surprised science teacher Nancy Gealow and math and science teacher Adrienne Pope with the Stars in the Classroom award, a recognition given out to outstanding Houston teachers for going above and beyond for their students.
“You never think about when someone is watching and appreciative of what you’re doing every day,” said Pope, who was nominated by student Christian McClain. “I’ve given so much for so many years, and to be recognized is amazing and feels good.”
After surprising students and staff, Peters praised the teachers for their hard work and commitment to their students. “You guys made this happen because you’re a positive influence on these kids,” said Peters.
Fifth-grade student Dominic Moreno said he decided to nominate Gealow with the help of his mother.
“We started writing down the nomination and it led up to this,” said Moreno. “I like that she teaches science, how she does a lot of experiments and how she makes us fascinated about science.”
Gealow, who was also overcome with emotions, said she was in shock to have received the recognition.
“I couldn’t believe the things said in the nomination and all of the things he wrote,” said Gealow. “It was nice seeing that he recognized what I’m trying to do in the classroom, and to talk about all of the experiments we do every day.”
Having been in the classroom for 35 years, Gealow said this is her second stint teaching at Hirsch after first joining the campus in 1989. She said she returned last year, wanting to finish her career there, but not without a few personal hardships.
“Last year, I was in a wheelchair after having my right knee replaced, and I couldn’t walk,” Gealow said. “I was telling Brian [Peters] this is the pinnacle for me because I’m able walk and move around again.”
The online competition is made possible through a partnership between First Community Credit Union and the Houston Texans. Nancy Trennel, Senior Vice President of First Community Credit Union, said that out of hundreds of submissions, only 10 teachers are selected per season throughout the Houston area. In October, Meyer Elementary School special education teacher Tara Brown and Cooper Elementary School physical education teacher Coach Detrick Jones were also recipients of the award.
“This school year, we have selected four teachers out of the Spring Independent School District,” said Trennel. “These two teachers are the top two nominations for the entire football season. It’s been really important to us that we continue to give back to teachers because we know how hard they work.”
Both Gealow and Pope received a commemorative custom game ball autographed by Peters; two tickets to a Houston Texans home game with parking and sideline passes; a $500 donation to the school district in their honor; and a $200 Palais Royal gift card. In addition, both of the nominating students received a football, and the campus received a custom commemorative football.
“We go through hundreds of nominations, and it really comes down to what the students say about what they’re getting from their teachers and how they make a difference in their lives,” said Trennel.