There is only one way to describe Chuck Bezdek – living legend. We were fortunate enough to get to present his Appreciated Teacher Award at his official retirement celebration at San Jacinto Elementary where he has been instilling students with confidence and a life-long love of health & fitness for 25 years. Since announcing Coach Bezdek as one of our award recipients we’ve had so many of our current and former employees reach out to us to tell us how amazing their experience with Coach Bezdek was when he taught them. Prior to his time at SJE, he spent 15 years at Mae Smythe Elementary in Pasadena ISD where he was one of the first teachers with a Physical Education degree to be hired to help start the district’s physical education programs.
Chuck’s passion for working with elementary students led him to pass on job offers in athletics at the high school level. Now there are literally thousands of former students who are so glad that he did. He has been their mentor, role model and fan. As they’ve grown up, they remember Coach Bezdek and the things he taught them. Things that you don’t always learn in a classroom but are so important to growing as a person.
Thank you Coach Bezdek for your 40 years of service.
Christine Hawthorne genuinely cares about education and has a unique understanding of how to engage students to maximize their learning. Mrs. Hawthorne’s influence extends well beyond her classroom. She willingly accepts student teachers into her classroom because she believes in the importance of mentoring future teachers. Knowing full well that learning can take place anywhere, she has garnered support from major corporations so that students can take field trips to learn about science in the real world.
In the classroom Mrs. Hawthorne finds ways to engage students through hands on science lessons. Her hope is that by making science relevant and fun for students, they will be inspired to consider pursue science fields in high school and beyond.
Christine is continually looking for ways to motivate and reach her students. She helped organize a district wide kindergarten & sixth grade collaborative learning experience. The sixth graders taught the kindergarten students science lessons which benefited both groups and created a whole new level of student engagement. She does all of this because she loves teaching and truly believes in the power of public education.
Denise Hahn received several nominations, including a few from students and one from a parent. They all have a common theme: Denise Hahn is changing students’ lives through her work at Turner High School. The courses she teaches in Audio Video Production is giving students real world skills that make them work force ready when they graduate. But she gives the students so much more than those skills, she gives them the confidence they will need to navigate adulthood. One student wrote, “Growing up, I was always told by many people that I would never amount to anything in life, but when Mrs. Hahn became my teacher she taught me to turn their words into fuel to power my success. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.” There are no more powerful words than that to describe a life changing, great teacher.
Mrs. Hahn helps the students discover their passion and then she nurtures it. She goes to great lengths to develop her students and always has time for them including scheduling Saturday classes. A group of her students is taking Final Cut certification which could lead to jobs straight out of high school in radio, television or the film industry. In order to pay for the certifications, Mrs. Hahn secured scholarship funding for the students.
All of her students agree that Mrs. Hahn, through her belief in her students, pushes them way beyond the limits of what they thought their capabilities were. She’s not just giving them skills they can use, rather she is helping them grow as people. Each nomination talks about how lucky they are to have met Mrs. Hahn. She is truly an appreciated teacher.
Each year Geema Moore spends countless hours working with the students at Pasadena Memorial High School to produce the school’s musical. It is a true labor of love for Mrs. Moore who isn’t the school’s drama or choir teacher. She is part of the CTE department at PMHS and teaches Money Matters, Accounting, and Business Law. It is a yearly ritual which consumes her free time from November to January and it is all hands on deck at the Moore household as the family gets involved too.
A parent commented that even though her son only had a small role in the musical, Mrs. Moore made him feel like he was in a lead role through her praise and encouragement. It shows that teaching is about far more than giving students some knowledge about a subject, but rather about giving students the confidence to do things they didn’t think they had in them.
Mrs. Moore understands that teaching extends beyond the classroom. She runs the trading post at PMHS where she mentors students in areas such as accounting and retail. It is another way to prepare students for life after school. Students can expect to see a great deal of Mrs. Moore as she attends extracurricular activities to cheer on students and let them know that no matter what the circumstances, the students are a part of the Maverick community.
When we presented Heather Brown with her honorarium, she told a packed gym at Alvin Elementary that the money would be used to buy science supplies to set up a science lab at a school for orphaned girls in Haiti. She’s scheduled to go right after school lets out for the Summer to expose those students to the wonderful world of science. It is a skill she has mastered over the years according to her principal. She added, “Her passion for the curriculum makes her classes engaging for her students. When you enter her room you see students working in groups and digging into the fun and messy sides of science.”
Heather is a leader on her campus and is often sought out for advice and help by her peers. Like so many teachers, she gives freely of her time. You won’t find a family academic night at Alvin Elementary without Mrs. Brown helping to make sure the event is a great success.
In a time of great change in education and the way students learn, Mrs. Brown has remained mindful that each individual child learns in their own way. She is described as a masterful teacher when it comes to differentiating the curriculum to fit each student’s learning style. Taking it even further, Heather has embraced instructional technology and used it to enhance the individualized learning that takes place in her classroom. Parents continually request that their child be placed in Mrs. Brown’s class because she ignites the love of science in her students and we know she’ll do the same on her upcoming trip to Haiti.
If you would like to help Heather with supplies needed for the science lab she is building in Haiti, here is a list of supplies needed. You can send an e-mail to us and we’ll forward it to her.
Plastic bottles of vinegar
Safe Test Tubes (Plastic with screw tops)
Plastic Beakers (Various mL)
4M Kitchen Science Kit
4M Solar Robot
Spouses of teachers are uniquely qualified when it comes to letting others know how outstanding their spouse is at their craft. In the case of James Kingsmill, his wife is doubly qualified since she is also an educator.
James Kingsmill’s passion is teaching speech and debate and transferring that passion to his students. In 2011 he took over a debate program which was virtually nonexistent and over the years has nurtured it into a strong, award winning program. Like so many teachers, he did it through selfless giving of his time and money. He spent countless hours writing grants and hosting debate tournaments in order to raise funds for his students and program. He pays for each student’s membership into the National Forensic League and the payoff has been tremendous. This year, ten seniors will graduate with honor cords from the National Forensic League Honor Society.
Building a successful program requires a great deal of time and energy. It is easy to get distracted by personal circumstances such as a personal battle with epilepsy. James Kingsmill, however, would not allow that to derail his efforts to build a successful program at his school for his students. He, like so many teachers, always puts his students first and it shows through his actions and their success.
Thank you to all those who took time to nominate a special teacher. We had 250 nominations and are awarding 6 Appreciated Teacher Awards to the following individuals.
- James Kingsmill, Galena Park High School (Galena Park ISD)
- Geema Moore, Pasadena Memorial High School (Pasadena ISD)
- Heather Brown, Alvin Elementary (Alvin ISD)
- Denise Hahn, Robert Turner Career College and High School (Pearland ISD)
- Christine Hawthorne, Barber Middle School (Dickinson ISD)
- Chuck Bezdek, San Jacinto Elementary (Deer Park ISD)
Check back over the coming weeks for detailed stories on each recipient.
We Love Teachers. We would not be who we are without you.
That’s why Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union will recognize at least five outstanding teachers within the credit union’s field of membership which includes all school districts in Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery or Waller Counties, Texas. A committee of credit union employees will select from all nominations received by Wednesday, April 29th.
Nominees should be dedicated to greatly improving the quality of education for students. The Appreciated Teacher Award recipients will be named during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8) with an award, a $100 honorarium, and a $100 donation to their school in their name.
We encourage you to nominate a deserving teacher.