The Spring ISD Board of Trustees announced Employee Excellence Award winners for December 2020 and January 2021 during the board meeting this week. Trustees continued this year’s tradition of recognizing the winners during a special virtual presentation at the regular monthly board meeting, rather than holding surprise in-person award ceremonies at employees’ campuses or job sites.
“The Spring Independent School District Employee Excellence Award is given each month during the school year,” said Board of Trustees President Rhonda Newhouse. “The award recognizes district employees who exemplify the district’s guiding principles and core values. One employee is selected for this prestigious award each month.”
The December award was given to Cooper Elementary School Digital Learning Coach Darilyn Daniels, who was praised for helping faculty and staff on her campus, as well as throughout the district, maximize the potential of virtual learning tools and platforms ever since her arrival in Spring ISD last year.
“She’s exceptional in her daily activities because she has so many transferable skills that she has shared to build teacher capacity technologically,” said Newhouse in announcing the award. “Like many in her shoes, she learned how to navigate the computer. Unlike many, she not only navigated it, but she excelled in learning new programs that she could share with others.”
Newhouse noted a few of the ways Daniels had utilized her role to empower, encourage and support teachers through the pandemic, when many have wrestled to learn and grow comfortable with new technologies and new online classroom interaction with students. Daniels had joined the board meeting thinking she would be answering trustees’ questions during a presentation on virtual learning, and said the award was an unexpected honor.
“Well, I am surprised and shocked! Thank you so much, Spring ISD and Cooper Elementary. I was not expecting this at all,” said Daniels, adding that educational equity was especially close to her heart as a parent of a student learning from home this year.
“As the mom of a remote learner, it’s especially important to me that our scholars who log in daily are still feeling included in the school experience,” Daniels said. “I think my passion comes from having a child who’s living the remote learning experience.”
In a sign of the times, the evening’s second Employee Excellence Award went to another of the district’s digital learning coaches, Belinda Howell of Twin Creeks Middle School.
Currently in her fourth year with the district, Howell began in Spring ISD as a social studies teacher at Twin Creeks. As an early adopter of the Schoology online learning management system, she was able to support and help train fellow staff when the coronavirus necessitated the sudden widespread shift to online teaching and learning.
“Ms. Howell has displayed great talents in technical applications, such as becoming an expert in Schoology to support all stakeholders districtwide, including districtwide professional development and district town hall meetings,” Newhouse said.
She described Howell’s positive attitude that had helped inspire others – both at her campus and throughout Spring ISD – to make the most of the digital tools that have become a regular part of day-to-day learning. For her part, Howell said she was glad that her own excitement for new technology had given her an opportunity to help others.
“I really enjoy helping not only the students, but the parents and the other faculty and, really, everyone,” Howell said. “It’s just really been a privilege serving at Twin Creeks, where we really are a family and we really do win as a team.”
Daniels and Howell will each receive a framed award certificate and a special Spring ISD recognition pin, along with a check for $100. Both were nominated through the district’s “elevate” online submission form, where any employee, parent, or community member can enter a nomination.
To learn more, or to nominate a Spring ISD employee, visit www.springisd.org/employee-recognition.