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Tomball Independent School District

Tomball ISD Recognizes Teachers of the Year; Celebrates Students and Staff at 2023-2024 A+ Academic Awards Ceremony

Tomball ISD Recognizes Teachers of the Year; Celebrates Students and Staff at 2023-2024 A+ Academic Awards Ceremony

TOMBALL - Tomball ISD recognized high achievement and celebrated the 2023-2024 school year by honoring exemplary students, teachers and staff at the 38th Annual A+ Academic Awards Ceremony held at Tomball High School. The District wrapped up the event by announcing Carrie Ray from Creekview Elementary as its Elementary Teacher of the Year and Laura Wilkinson Higley from Tomball Memorial High School as its Secondary Teacher of the Year.

“The Board of Trustees has made a formal commitment to recognize the outstanding achievement of our students, and to encourage and reward quality instruction, dedication, and professionalism of our teachers and staff,” said School Board President Mr. John E. McStravick. “The 38th Annual A+ Academic Awards Ceremony affords us the opportunity to celebrate outstanding academic achievement bringing excellence in education to our classrooms.”


2023-2024 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR

Teachers of the Year 2024

Elementary Teacher of the Year: Carrie Ray
Creekview Elementary | Reading Specialist

Carrie Ray serves as a Reading Specialist at Creekview Elementary and has dedicated over 10 years to education.

Why education? What makes your job so special?
“Each day, I have the opportunity to practice selflessness and live life again through the experiences and wonder of a child.  To see children discover knowledge and then begin to understand why it matters restores me. I love sharing a child’s life experiences and guiding them as they begin to attach significance of content to those moments.  Growing excellence at my job affects a child’s life to the degree that it can change income brackets, improve the quality of interpersonal relationships, develop emotional maturity, increase physical health and provide a lifetime of benefit to society and others. Done well, teaching is truly an altruistic occupation, and children are still worth the investment of my life.”  

Why Tomball ISD?
“Every day as an educator, I am helping to write the future for some child’s life; therefore, my meager efforts today are truly creating the future of our society.  In Tomball our mission statement is that our “students will lead in creating the future,” which is the collective desire of Team Tomball; students can only create a future for which we prepare them with knowledge and then empower them with skills to use that knowledge. Tomball is the #DestinationExcellence district that marries these components to maximize every child’s potential.”    

What does it mean to be named Elementary Teacher of the Year? 
“To be named Elementary Teacher of the Year reminds me of the old poem, “No man is an island” by John Donne. I am not deserving of any honor outside the context of the community who strengthens me. My district mentors invest in me with growth opportunities and constructive feedback. My administrators believe that I have more potential than I do, so I work to prove them right. My colleagues accept me and are responsive to us learning together, and our students give us all purpose. Not unlike being the quarterback on a team, being Elementary Teacher of the Year is simply the one who is granted an MVP award for the collective efforts of a whole unnamed team. I am humbled to represent the very finest that teach in Tomball ISD.”  

CES Principal Allyson Jordan, on Carrie Ray…
“Carrie Ray is so deserving to represent CES and TISD as Teacher of the Year. She is continually reflecting on how to strengthen our instructional practices as a campus. She is a masterful instructional coach and leader who works alongside our teachers and students to ensure they are validated, confident, and supported in what they do while also helping them refine areas they feel need strengthening. Carrie truly cares about each student and teacher she works with and she goes above and beyond to build not only skills and knowledge, but their self-confidence and belief in themselves. We are incredibly lucky to have Ms. Ray serves our community and know she will continue to propel us forward in the important work we do each day.”


Secondary Teacher of the Year: Laura Wilkinson Higley
Tomball Memorial High School | Social Studies Teacher

Laura Wilkinson Higley has served education for 12 years, and is a current Social Studies Department Chair at Tomball Memorial High School.

Why education? What makes your job so special?
“My job isn't about creating anything tangible- it's about helping children grow intellectually, analyze facts critically, and prepare themselves for their future beyond Tomball ISD. The fact that I am able to positively impact hundreds of kids a year is mind boggling; former students reach out to me and let me know how I impacted their time in high school. Throughout the years, I've stockpiled letters from students, and I read them any time I seek validation in my career choice. The connections forged truly make my job remarkable.”

Why Tomball ISD?
“I chose Tomball ISD because of the community. Our board members make decisions from the top down that best impact our classes. I feel valued and supported by families of students and by administrators. Our students are also heavily invested in their own education; personal responsibility and buy-in make my job in Tomball ISD an absolute pleasure.”

What does it mean to be named Secondary Teacher of the Year? 
“Being named Secondary Teacher of the Year is an absolute honor, especially knowing how many quality and deserving educators there are in Tomball ISD. It's a little overwhelming and surreal, in part because I know the type of teacher typically honored, and I sometimes pinch myself when I realize that I was also selected.”

TMHS Principal Dr. Jeff Bailey, on Laura Wilkinson Higley…
“As a campus we are so proud of Ms. Higley. She is an incredible department chair and educator who truly cares about the overall success of her students.”


A+ TEACHERS & STUDENTS FROM ALL TOMBALL ISD CAMPUSES

For full photo gallery.

Canyon Pointe Elementary

  • Teachers: Matilde Berumen, Allison Carthey
  • Students: Ashansa Joshi (2nd), Taryn Hengesteg (3rd), Jimson Thanh Huynh (4th)

Creekside Forest Elementary

  • Teachers: Jennifer Brown, Cassandra Morrow
  • Students: Bryce Chen (2nd), Pearl Prince (3rd), Annie Phillips (4th), Eli Kim (5th)

Creekview Elementary

  • Teachers: Ginni Nichols, Carrie Ray
  • Students: Merritt Scott (2nd), Ella Cobb (3rd), Loretta Levet (4th), Ryan Verma (5th)

Decker Prairie Elementary

  • Teachers: Ashley Douglas, Karen Stevens
  • Students: Julieta Garcia Mantilla (2nd), Bryce Kaminski (3rd), Jude Farr (4th)

Early Excellence Academy

  • Teacher: Tammi Cruise

Grand Oaks Elementary

  • Teachers: Heather Denune, Cynthia McCain
  • Students: Ellen Yang (2nd), Jack Stein (3rd), Aadhav Mahadevan (4th)

Lakewood Elementary

  • Teachers: Joan Heinrich, Kaitlyn Kadura
  • Students: Gavin Vogt (2nd), Audrey Justice (3rd), Juliet Weber (4th)

Rosehill Elementary

  • Teachers: Kimberly Kras, Maria Alejandra Martinez
  • Students: Trinity Sempe (2nd), Ella Snow (3rd), Matthew Breaux (4th)

Timber Creek Elementary

  • Teachers: Rachel Storck, Rachel Woods
  • Students: Elio Orta (2nd), Lexi East (3rd), Archer Noel Timothy Taylor (4th), Sloan Schamback (5th)

Tomball Elementary

  • Teachers: Tabby Garrett, Alicia Means
  • Students: Penelope Saroeun (2nd), Zoe Ngule (3rd), Tad Foran (4th)

Wildwood Elementary

  • Teachers: Anne Collins, Jennifer Guillory
  • Students: Hadley Bua (2nd), Batool Hussain (3rd), Ruth Voiculescu (4th)

Willow Creek Elementary

  • Teachers: Allison Neelley, Jennifer Surber
  • Students: Heidi Schanzer (2nd), Elliot Tran (3rd), Thi Le (4th)

Northpointe Intermediate

  • Teachers: Brandy Graham, Angela Shaw
  • Students: Isabella Earhart (5th), Aisha Mohammed (5th), Hibah Atif (6th), Dheeraj Kumar (6th)

Oakcrest Intermediate

  • Teachers: Jessica Gerngross, Amanda McMullen
  • Students: Evelyn Kao (5th), Misha Masilamony (5th), Maryam Hussain (6th), Zunaira Sakhawat (6th)

Tomball Intermediate 

  • Teachers: Mary Brewster, Ricky Kindley
  • Students: Micah Ogbunuju (5th), Emmitt Ryan (5th), Harper Foran (6th), Emily Yang (6th)

Creekside Park Junior High 

  • Teachers: Kristin Thomas, Dru Wiser
  • Students: Jacob Loureiro (6th), Vihaan Shah (6th), Emma Vargo (6th), Lola Flanagan (7th), Xavier Hernandez (7th), Sara Wang (7th), Natalia Dominguez (8th), Brady Jones (8th), Regina Narvaez Suarez (8th)

Grand Lakes Junior High

  • Teachers: Melissa O’Brien, Christa Wallace
  • Students: Audrey Hoang (7th), Suhana Shaik (7th), Riya Singhal (7th), Gabriela De Souza Cardoso (8th), Andrew Lin (8th), Taanya Virigineni (8th)

Tomball Junior High

  • Teachers: Christine Polt, Ursula Hart
  • Students: Lydia Gifford (7th), Haley Kruppa (7th), Morgan Mathes (7th), Reid Jacob (8th), Savannah O’Neal (8th), Rylee Williams (8th)

Willow Wood Junior High

  • Teachers: Dillon McDugle, Ashley Yu
  • Students: Camille Kennedy (7th), Carol Nguyen (7th), Arianna Shen (7th), Roberto Cavazos-Lopez (8th), Anvika Chevuri (8th), Long Nguyen (8th)

Connections Academy

  • Teacher: Alan Dill

Tomball High School

  • Teachers: Debra Boles, Christopher Coover, Riane Gammill, Diana Martinez
  • Students: Rohan Julapalli (9th), Emma Lin (9th), Joseph Perez (9th), Liam Warren (9th), Maxwell Dean (10th), Jack Dixon (10th), Logan Giessinger (10th), Daniel Hoffmaster (10th), Isabella Alvarez (11th), Anand Julapalli (11th), Sri Komaragiri (11th), Benjamin Prince (11th), Olivia Dean (12th), William Klein (12th), Akshita Santra (12th), Catherine Walker (12th)

Tomball Memorial High School

  • Teachers: Tessa Gest, Laura Wilkinson Higley, Canita Lee, Terrance Woods
  • Students: Elina Chatterjee (9th), Aaryan Karlapalem (9th), Vivian Nguyen (9th), George Waltrous (9th), John Aday (10th), Jonathan Estill (10th), Hailey Wilcox (10th), Tim Zhao (10th), Leyton Bammel (11th), Luca Gasparini (11th), Peyton Mueller (11th), Lauren Taylor (11th), Gene Chang (12th), Sophie Mejia (12th), Andrew Nguyen (12th), Priyanka Sugumar (12th)

Tomball Star Academy

  • Teachers: Amy Caballero, Marissa Logrono
  • Students: Pierce Bowlin (9th), Anaya Naghman (9th), Dan Nguyen (10th), August Walker (10th), Connor Braden (11th), Giselle McLean (11th), Asbah Hamid (12th), Isabella Lezama (12th)

PARAPROFESSIONALS OF THE YEAR, PRINCIPALS OF THE YEAR, ESL/BILINGUAL TEACHERS OF THE YEAR

Paras of the Year

Instructional Paraprofessional of the Year: Lisa Brown
Lakewood Elementary | Student Support

Administrative Paraprofessional of the Year: Becky Devlin
Central Office | Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer

Principals of Year

Elementary Principal of the Year: Teresa Sullivan
Willow Creek Elementary

Secondary Principal of the Year: Kevin Williams
Willow Wood Junior High

Multilingual TOY 2024

Elementary ESL Teacher of the Year: Lesley Apolskis
Willow Creek Elementary

Bilingual Teacher of the Year: Maria Alejandra Martinez
Rosehill Elementary

ABOUT TOMBALL ISD
Tomball ISD educates students to become responsible, productive citizens by providing innovative, individually rigorous, and personally valuable educational experiences. Founded in 1908, Tomball ISD now encompasses 83 square miles in northwest Harris County and southwest Montgomery County, and is located approximately 30 miles from downtown Houston. The district currently educates over 23,000 students across 23 campuses.

  • 2023-2024
  • A+
  • Board of Trustees
  • CES
  • TMHS
  • Teachers of Year