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State Board of Education names 2022 recipients of Heroes for Children Award

AUSTIN – October 19, 2022 – The State Board of Education (SBOE) today announced the 15 recipients of the 2022 Heroes for Children Award. 

Established in 1994, the Heroes for Children Award is designed to recognize excellence in advocacy for education and to highlight the many outstanding volunteers whose efforts represent significant contributions to public school systems in Texas. 

Since its inception, the award has provided a means to recognize Texas residents who render selfless acts of service by offering their time, effort, and support to public schools and students. The award honors volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to student learning or who have demonstrated sustained periods of involvement and support of public education. Each year, the 15-member Board recognizes one Hero from each of their districts. 

2022’s honorees have given a combined 233 years of service to Texas public school systems and their communities. The Board has recognized 510 Texans since the award’s inception. 

“The selfless acts of service performed by these award winners have significantly contributed to the betterment of Texas public schools,” said SBOE chair Dr. Keven Ellis. “The State Board of Education is honored to recognize these individuals with this award. I know they will continue to inspire not only our students but also to inspire others to volunteer and support our public schools.”

Deborah McReynolds (Ector County Independent School District – SBOE District 1)
Deborah McReynolds has volunteered for eight years with the Hays Science Technology Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Academy in Ector County Independent School District (ISD). As a volunteer, she restored a storeroom into a fully functioning science laboratory. Deborah has also set up a rock exploration laboratory where students get hands-on experience learning about different types of rocks. She is currently responsible for operating the science laboratory where students and teachers take turns enjoying her fun and engaging lessons through the program, Sharkfinder. Her wealth of knowledge in setting up science laboratories and her passion for sharing her love of science has positively impacted ECISD students.

Esmeralda Guerrero (Mission Consolidated Independent School District – SBOE District 2)
Esmeralda Guerrero has been a volunteer with Mission CISD  for seven years. She currently serves as the president of the District Advisory Committee, where she leads all parent meetings. She also serves as a member of the Bilingual Parent Committee, where she assists in providing information about the school and district policies to parents. Her other volunteer activities include making copies, laminating posters, helping students and teachers in the classroom, decorating the school for special occasions, and working a booth during health fairs.

Jason Mims (San Antonio Independent School District – SBOE District 3)
Jason Mims has been an advocate for public education for the past 20 years. He helps students in San Antonio ISD, and surrounding areas find internship opportunities, takes them on college tours, mentors them until they graduate, and assists them with their college application process. It is not unusual to see a photo of Jason and his mentees witnessing and celebrating his most notable and recognizable endeavor, “Kindness Matters.” 

He shares his Kindness gifts with students and their families in urban areas to increase their awareness of exceptional college opportunities available to students excelling in urban public schools. As a recognized champion of public education for the past 20 years, giving back to his community is his passion. Jason’s volunteerism is thoughtful and meaningful and encourages future leaders to dream big, explore, and make a big difference in the lives of others. 

Rosalinda Ortiz (Galena Park Independent School District – SBOE District 4)
Rosalinda Ortiz has volunteered at Pyburn Elementary School in Galena Park ISD for the past eight years. She has been awarded volunteer of the month every year for her passion for supporting her school community and its activities. She has been president of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) for many years. Rosalinda is always eager to participate in school events, and her dedication is a blessing to both students and staff. She is selfless, kind, and always thinks of others. The staff at Pyburn can always count on her to lead parent meetings for fundraisers, help with decorations for school events, or assist teachers on the campus. 

Melinda Cox (North East Independent School District – SBOE District 5)
Melinda Cox has been a volunteer and advocate for North East ISD for more than 13 years. At the district level, she has served on the North East Council of PTAs board as the Advocacy Chair and Healthy Lifestyles Chair. She has served on the School Health Advisory Council’s nutrition and safety committees. 

Melinda is best known within the community for starting the Johnson High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association’s Smart Driving Club in 2012. The club members work with their peers, community members, local leaders, school administration, and state leaders to promote the message “Eyes on the Road, Not on Your Phone.” Through the Smart Driving Club, Melinda has educated thousands of students and their families about being smart and safe drivers. She has been instrumental in contributing to the development and implementation of local ordinances that ban cell phone use while driving and a state law prohibiting texting while driving. There is no doubt that lives have been saved through her education and advocacy efforts.

Lauren Dougherty (Klein Independent School District – SBOE District 6)
Lauren Dougherty has been a passionate volunteer at Klein ISD for the past five years. As vice president of the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) at Brill Elementary, she organizes a monthly dual language family night event that encourages parents to come together as a community to share cultural food and recipes, along with playing games and craft activities. This monthly event has empowered parents to get involved with their children’s education, and the event has been replicated across other elementary campuses in the district. 

Lauren has also become a fierce advocate for public education, focusing on school funding at the state and local levels. The Klein ISD community is privileged to have a remarkable, brilliant, and natural leader who leads others by her example of selfless giving.

Barbara Franklin (Brazosport Independent School District – SBOE District 7)
Barbara Franklin put into motion a child-focused safety program that has been woven into the fabric of the Brazosport ISD community and has left a legacy that continues today after 34 years. The program is known as Brazosport Safetytown, a miniature town situated on a 100-foot campus gym floor. The town comes complete with streets, sidewalks, stoplights, buildings, other traffic devices, and tiny plastic riding trikes that allow children to practice basic safety lessons to learn how to prevent accidents. 

Each year, Safetytown brings incoming first graders to the Brazosport Safetytown campus for nine days of comprehensive safety education classes. The course covers diverse topics, including fire safety, pedestrian and car safety, stranger danger, home emergencies, poison control, dangers of unfriendly dogs, beach safety, gun safety, and gang hazards. The success and sustainability of the program are attributed to Barbara’s leadership and unwavering support. 

Tonia Jaeggi (Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District – SBOE District 8)
Tonia Jaeggi has been an avid volunteer for Robison Elementary in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD for the last seven years. During her time as a volunteer, she became a certified presenter for the Science Resource Center and has supported student learning by volunteering at Nature Trails outdoor learning center. One of her favorite activities is to use snakes, guinea pigs, ferrets, worms, and other interesting critters to deliver hands-on science learning to students. 

She served as a PTO officer for five years and raised funds to enrich the student and staff experience for all Robison Rockets. She has sponsored teacher and staff appreciation meals and gifts, Veteran’s Day programs, and gifts for a neighboring school with limited resources. Her volunteer service has uplifted students and staff, enriched learning environments, influenced public policy, heightened community engagement, and positively impacted the lives of others in her community.

Thomas (Tab) Beall (Tyler Independent School District – SBOE District 9)
Thomas (Tab) Beall Jr. has advocated for Tyler ISD for over 21 years. He has served as a Tyler ISD Foundation Board member since 2001 and continues to actively volunteer his time, talent, and resources. In 2011, Tab and his wife, Bonnie, announced a $550,000 donation, which included a scholarship endowment. So far, the Tab and Bonnie Beall Scholarship has impacted the lives of 21 Tyler ISD graduates. 

Tab is a smiling fixture at various district and foundation board events that support teachers and students across the district, including Caldwell Arts Academy’s annual elementary musical, the district convocation event for all employees, and the annual District Teachers of the Year banquet. 

In 2019 Tab was named a member of the district’s Distinguished Alumni, an annual award given to a Tyler ISD graduate whose achievements, strengths of character and citizenship serve as a model to inspire and challenge current students. The school community is grateful for his unwavering support, dedication, and endless accomplishments for the thousands of students served by Tyler ISD.

Carolyn Holubec (Thrall Independent School District - SBOE District 10)
Carolyn Holubec has been a devoted Thrall ISD volunteer for more than 21 years. She has served as a member and officer of the elementary and secondary campus PTO, band boosters club member, and, most recently, as president of the Thrall Community Education Foundation. In her duties as a volunteer, she recruited members of the community to become active participants in the foundation and helped raise over $250,000 in funds for student scholarships and teacher grants. So far, the foundation has awarded over $100,000 in student scholarships and $40,000 in teacher grants. 

It is not unusual to see Carolyn at sporting events. She assisted in ensuring the district sports fields were painted for athletic events. Her constant presence and positive engagement with district activities have impacted the culture of the district. The entire Thrall Tiger family is thankful to have a humble volunteer like Carolyn.

Ken Kuhl (Fort Worth Independent School District - SBOE District 11)
Ken Kuhl has been a PTO member and officer of the Fort Worth ISD for the past five years. Ken is dedicated to making every child’s positive potential become a reality. He has planned and executed the annual carnival at his daughter’s elementary school and has led the district’s Council of PTAs as president. As a volunteer, Ken worked with parents, the community, and the district to secure the funds to build three new elementary schools in under-resourced Fort Worth communities. He also galvanized both parent and public support for the renovation of aging middle schools in order to make a positive impact on how students learn in their physical learning environment. 

During the pandemic, Ken and his PTA colleagues were a source of support, encouragement, and strength to all of the district’s families. During that time, he organized, led, and moderated virtual town hall meetings to share school information provided by the district leadership team and answered parent questions. He also secured a grant from National PTA to build outdoor classrooms, which proved to be useful for both students and teachers. Ken’s leadership ability to build coalitions and partnerships among local and state elected officials, community stakeholders, and parents makes him an exemplary citizen and a real hero for the children of Fort Worth ISD.  

Jill Beitel (Prosper Independent School District - SBOE District 12)
Jill Beitel has been a volunteer for Prosper ISD for the past 11 years. In her roles at the district, she has been involved in activities that assist teachers and provide opportunities for students. Her roles include serving as a lead room mom, a club and organization chairperson, a PTO officer, and a member of the planning committee to help with the development of the district’s Strategic Plan. Her commitment to the district led her to get involved with the Prosper Education Foundation, where she actively serves on the grants and scholarship committee and in several other capacities. 

In addition, she serves on one of the Legacy Scholarship committees. She also volunteers for the Young Men’s Service League, several food pantries and assistance charities, Prosper Ladies Association, and Lovepacs Prosper. There are very few areas of the district and the greater Prosper community that Jill is not involved in serving as a model of grace, compassion, service, and integrity. Jill is a selfless servant leader committed to serving everyone she crosses paths with and deserves to be recognized as Prosper community’s Hero for Children.

Elsa Muñoz (Irving Independent School District - SBOE District 13)
Elsa Muñoz has volunteered at Townsell Elementary in Irving ISD for the past eight years. She sees the value in helping teachers because she knows it gives them much-needed time to prepare for quality instruction for their students. Elsa values the relationships she has with campus staff and the opportunity to learn more about the school setting. Elsa does not hesitate to change her schedule when she’s asked to volunteer for school events so that she can help in any way she can. 

She has become an advocate for parent engagement with school activities. If she is not in the classroom volunteering, you will see Elsa helping with craft activities or working on event decorations for the school. She attends parent classes and encourages other parents to attend because she believes the parent classes offered at Irving ISD have helped her better support her children and her personal growth. Her positive and helpful spirit helps make Townsell Elementary a better place to be for its students.

Elizabeth Chase (Copperas Cove Independent School District - SBOE District 14)
Elizabeth Chase has a servant's heart. She has been volunteering for Copperas Cove ISD for the past 15 years. Elizabeth had taken on what is known as two of the most difficult volunteer leadership roles in the district, chair for Project Graduation and president for the cheer booster club. 

Her Project Graduation 2022 was a great success, with a large number of graduating students happily attending the celebration. She has also served in the challenging role of the cheer booster club president for the last two years. Under her leadership, Elizabeth and other committee members supported the squad with fundraisers for camp, an end-of-the-year banquet, and a trip to the University Interscholastic League (UIL) state championship. The Copperas Cove community is very fortunate to have a true Hero for Children like Elizabeth.

Betty Lyon (Morton Independent School District - SBOE District 15)
Betty Lyon is everyone’s Nana in Morton ISD, where she has been volunteering since 1972. Over the course of five decades, Betty has made outstanding contributions to student learning, demonstrated ongoing involvement and support for public education, and done that consistently and with much love. Everyone’s Nana has set the bar high when it comes to volunteerism. 

Betty is a valued and permanent part of the Morton landscape and spends her time substitute teaching, making homemade baked goods for fundraisers, supporting kids at livestock shows, and cheering kids on in the stands. She gives selflessly of herself by often spending the entire school day through the end of sporting events to ensure the students feel supported and loved. She also provides a scholarship every year to a graduating senior. Morton ISD is beyond blessed to have had an amazing Hero for Children for more than 50 years and hopes for many more years to come.