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El Paso ISD reveals top 10 finalists for 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year Award

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT – April 3, 2024) — The El Paso Independent School District proudly unveils the top 10 exceptional educators who will be eligible for the district’s coveted title of Teacher of the Year for the 2023-2024 academic year. Chosen from a pool of outstanding candidates, these finalists embody the spirit of academic excellence that defines the district's educational legacy, celebrating 140 Years of Excellence. 


After a rigorous selection process involving committee interviews and thorough evaluations, these educators have emerged as shining examples of dedication, innovation, and passion for shaping young minds. The winners will be announced at the prestigious Teacher of the Year Awards banquet Friday, May 3, 2024, at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center at Fort Bliss.  


The top 10 finalists for the 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year Awards are: 


• Nicole Schuster, Lundy Elementary School: Nicole Schuster is a dedicated educator with a bachelor of science in elementary education and graduate coursework in special education. Passionate about igniting a love for learning, she fosters inclusive environments where every student feels valued. With a commitment to innovation and collaboration, Schuster continuously seeks new ways to engage her students while also being an active member of her school community, aiming to make a lasting impact on her students’ lives. 


• Isela Lopez, Cielo Vista Elementary School: Isela Lopez, a dedicated educator with 22 years of experience in special education at Cielo Vista, draws from her own journey of self-discovery to guide her students on theirs. Through innovative and personalized approaches, she helps students embrace their strengths and weaknesses, fostering a supportive environment where learning flourishes. Lopez’s commitment to continuous learning and holistic student development sets her apart, empowering her students to navigate both academic challenges and life beyond the classroom. 


• Lisa K. Gailey, Mesita Elementary School: Lisa K. Gailey has 17 years of experience as a librarian and teaching second- to fifth-grade levels at Mesita Elementary School. With bachelor’s in criminal justice administration, and master’s degrees in education and library science, her passion lies in creating engaging and innovative learning experiences. Gailey's commitment to student success extends beyond the classroom through various programs, events, and initiatives, making her library the heart of the school community. 


• Dora Esquivel, Coach Archie Duran Elementary School: Dora Esquivel, with three years of experience teaching special education AIM in grades 1-5 at Coach Archie Duran, embodies resilience and dedication. Her teaching philosophy, inspired by her mentors and personal experiences, focuses on fostering progress, compassion, and collaboration in her classroom. Esquivel’s commitment to her students’ holistic development and her innovative teaching approaches make her a standout educator, driven by a passion for ensuring every child feels valued and supported on their educational journey. 


• Beatriz Palomino, Hart Elementary School: Beatriz Palomino, with six years of teaching experience at Hart Elementary, brings a deep sense of purpose and empathy to her fifth-grade classroom. With a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Palomino fosters a collaborative, engaging environment where students feel valued and empowered to embrace learning as a lifelong journey, inspiring them to navigate challenges with resilience and optimism. 


• Florangela Calderón, H. E. Charles Middle School: Florangela Calderón’s 22-year tenure as a middle school librarian at Charles reflects her commitment to education. After immigrating from Nicaragua as a political refugee, her journey through the educational system inspired her to become an educator. Despite battling Stage 4 terminal cancer, Calderón remains dedicated to her students, fostering inclusivity, adaptability, and a love for learning in her library. Her passion, resilience, and commitment to making a positive impact epitomize the spirit of excellence in education.


• Jayne Chapman, Irvin High School: Jayne Chapman, with 19 years of experience teaching English language arts to sophomores at Irvin High School, embodies a collaborative, creative, and compassionate approach to education. With a bachelor’s and master’s in English and American literature from UTEP, Chapman fosters collaboration among students and colleagues, shares innovative teaching methods, and provides compassionate support to students facing personal challenges. Passionate about integrating technology such as artificial intelligence into the classroom, Chapman represents the cooperative and caring mindset of her school community. 


• Frank Hernandez, Franklin High School: Frank Hernandez, with 12 years of teaching experience in science at Franklin High School, is a dedicated educator known for his innovative approaches to teaching and mentorship. As an OnRamps mentor, coach, and department chair, he has spearheaded new programs, embraced challenges, and fostered a culture of growth and learning within his department. Committed to making a lasting impact on future generations, Hernandez embraces challenges and opportunities for personal and academic growth within the district community. 


• Rashad Pritchett, Andress High School: Rashad Pritchett has taught special education at Andress High School for six years, bringing a heartfelt dedication to shaping the lives of his students. Inspired by a transformative experience with a teacher during his own childhood, Pritchett strives to not only educate but also to be a source of support and positivity for his students, both in the classroom and on the field as a coach. His compassionate approach, rooted in his faith and community values, creates a nurturing environment where every student feels valued and empowered to succeed. 


• Abraham Monteros, Bowie High School: Abraham Monteros, a dedicated educator with eight years of experience at Bowie High School, combines his passion for teaching and coaching to positively impact students’ lives. As a product of the El Paso ISD system himself, he understands the profound influence teachers have on shaping young minds. Monteros’ commitment to student engagement, personal connections, and innovative teaching methods reflects his belief that education is not just a job, but a duty to lead and inspire the next generation.