The Spring ISD Board of Trustees announced Employee Excellence Award winners for September, October and November this week, the first three winners for the 2022-23 school year. During surprise campus and site visits on Monday, school board representatives and district administrators surprised the winners, who were each selected for embodying the qualities in the district’s Leadership Definition.
The September award went to Development Specialist Brenda Peak, whose work is focused on supporting the district’s Emergent Bilingual student population.
“To begin, Brenda is outcome-driven,” said Spring ISD Board President Justine Durant during the ceremony, held in the lobby of the district’s Gordon M. Anderson Leadership Center.
“When she arrived in Spring ISD from a previous district last school year, she discovered that the Emergent Bilingual population of students, especially the newcomers, were without a structured curriculum,” Durant continued. “Brenda knew that swift action was needed. She spent the last part of last school year and this past summer creating a teacher-friendly pacing guide and curriculum, complete with resources and biweekly professional development.”
Peak’s nomination highlighted her strong communication skills and relationship-building with teachers, administrators, and students, noting that it is not uncommon for Peak to sit with students and work with them one-on-one when visiting classrooms, where she has also developed positive and trusting relationships with the teachers who she coaches and supports through her work.
Durant emphasized that Peak’s efforts in support of Spring ISD’s Emergent Bilingual population also represented an important contribution to the district’s emphasis on ensuring excellent, equitable outcomes for all students, no matter their background.
“Everything I do is for our number-one stakeholders, which are those students,” Peak said. “Everything I do, every decision, everything I say, every move I make is always – in collaboration with this wonderful team – for our number one stakeholders, the kids.”
The October award went to Diana Falcon, a member of the Special Education staff at Northgate Crossing Elementary School and a district alumna who attended Anderson Elementary and Dueitt Middle School, and graduated from Spring High School.
Falcon joined Northgate Crossing in 2017 as a paraprofessional, and in addition to her daily work with students at the campus, she has also been working toward her bachelor’s degree in education at Sam Houston State University, where she is scheduled to graduate this December and become a full-fledged teacher.
Falcon said it hadn’t been easy juggling her work with students at Northgate Crossing and her own coursework at Sam Houston, but that the experience had given her a strong foundation in her training as an educator.
“I get to see all the different teaching styles, all the different classroom management tricks. I think it’s better, because every day I’m living it, you know what I mean?” Falcon said after the ceremony at the campus. “It’s one thing to read it in a book, and it’s another to see it in action every day.”
A love for Spring ISD students and the work of education runs in Falcon’s family. Falcon’s mother, Dora, is a bus driver with the district’s transportation department, while her sister-in-law, Kristin Falcon, is the current principal at Anderson Elementary School – and originally helped encourage her sister-in-law to join the staff at Northgate Crossing and pursue her degree and teaching certification.
Trustee Rhonda Newhouse, during her remarks, acknowledged Falcon’s family and their generous service to Spring ISD.
“Thank them for us, for sharing you with us,” Newhouse said in presenting Falcon with her award. “You make a world of difference for our students, and we thank you kindly.”
Northgate Crossing Principal Kristi Brown said it had been wonderful watching Falcon grow and blossom in her work as a paraprofessional at Northgate Crossing. Brown said staff at the school held Falcon in high esteem for undertaking the often-difficult task of pursuing her degree while working full time at the campus.
The November award went to Human Resources Assistant Mary Woods, who was nominated in part for her ongoing commitment to basing all decisions on what is best for students.
“She recognizes that she leads from where she’s at, and takes the initiative to do things beyond the scope of her job title without being asked to,” Durant said during the ceremony, also held in the lobby of the leadership center. “She genuinely cares about those she comes in contact with, is team-focused, and leaves a lasting impression on those she helps.”
Woods’ nomination also expressed gratitude at how she supports the department during the busiest times, including the hectic summer hiring period.
“Her cheerful demeanor and encouragement do not falter,” Durant said of Woods, “and she knows how to delegate the bountiful phone calls – and sometimes escalations – that we receive to the correct departments. We are here today to recognize you, Ms. Woods, for going above and beyond, and being such a valuable asset, not just to your team, but to Spring ISD and our community as a whole.”
Woods, who thought she was headed to a meeting to discuss employment eligibility verification procedures, said she was taken by surprise at the ceremony in her honor, but said it was deeply satisfying to receive the affirmation of her contributions to the department.
“I’ve worked in education for 27 years, and I just love children and I want them always to be successful,” said Woods, going on to praise her human resources teammates for their support and dedication. “Thank you very much!”
Peak, Falcon and Woods each received a framed certificate and a special Spring ISD recognition pin. Each Employee Excellence Award winner also receives a check for $100, made possible by the support of the Spring ISD Education Foundation. All three were nominated through the online submission form, where any employee, parent, or community member can enter a nomination for an outstanding district employee.
To learn more, or to nominate a Spring ISD employee, visit www.springisd.org/employee-recognition.