Top teachers for Cleveland, Tarkington recognized by Chamber of Commerce

The top teachers for the 2018-2019 school year from Tarkington and Cleveland ISDs were recognized during the Aug. 1 Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Cleveland Civic Center. Pictured left to right are Cleveland ISD Superintendent Chris Trotter, Krista Eakin, Tarkington ISD Superintendent Dr. Marc Keith, Alyssa Hollie, Laurie Williams, Shannon Medina, Lisa Stephens, Tom Jones, Cassie Carpenter, Tyra Hodge, Ashlynn Bashor, Dr. Glenn Barnes and Chamber Incoming Chairman Victoria Good. Not pictured are Cheryl Flora, Shibahn Landry, Jackie Owens and Calesta House.

By Vanesa Brashier,

Community leaders in the Cleveland area came together on Thursday to recognize the 2018-2019 Teachers of the Year for Cleveland and Tarkington ISDs. The Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce hosted the ceremony during its monthly membership luncheon.

Victoria Good, the incoming board chairman for the Chamber and chair of the Chamber’s Education Committee, announced the honorees.

“Thank you all for coming to our first-ever Education Recognition Luncheon,” she said to a packed ballroom of Chamber guests.

She explained how the Chamber is striving to work closely with both school districts to find mentoring opportunities and work experiences, and to be involved in the future education of the community.

“One step that we’ve taken in achieving our goals is hosting Principal for a Day last October. We had 21 business members shadow 21 Cleveland ISD administrators for a whole morning, and then had a group discussion about our experiences,” said Good, calling it a “powerful learning experience.”

The 14 teachers and administrators who were picked by their districts as the Teachers of the Year were then recognized one by one with each receiving a commemorative certificate signed by State Rep. Ernest Bailes and a goodie bag.

The honorees include:

  • Krista Eakin with Cleveland ISD’s Southside Elementary
  • Ashlynn Bashor with Cleveland ISD’s Northside Elementary. Bashor was also the Elementary Teacher of the Year for the district.
  • Cheryl Flora with Cleveland ISD’s Eastside Elementary
  • Alyssa Hollie with Cleveland Middle School. Hollie was also the Secondary Teacher of the Year.
  • Shannon Medina with Cleveland High School
  • Tom Jones with Cleveland ISD’s Douglass Learning Academy
  • Tyra Hodge with Cleveland ISD’s DAEP Program
  • Dr. Glenn Barnes for Sam Houston State University’s Distinguished Educator of the Year Award
  • Shibahn Landry with Tarkington Primary
  • Jackie Owens with Tarkington Intermediate. She was also the Elementary Teacher of the Year for the district.
  • Cassie Carpenter for Tarkington Middle School
  • Laurie Williams for Tarkington High School. She was also the Secondary Teacher of the Year for the district.
  • Calesta House, Tarkington ISD’s Elementary Principal of the Year
  • Lisa Stephens, Tarkington ISD’s Secondary Principal of the Year

Barnes was one of five alumni educators selected to receive Sam Houston State University’s Distinguished Educator of the Year Award for the 2018-2019 school year. These awards go to educators who make significant contributions to the field of education and have demonstrated expertise or outstanding service in a classroom, school and/or community, Good said.

“I knew Dr. Barnes when he was still just Mr. Barnes, when he was my ninth-grade world geography teacher. Now I couldn’t tell you much of the book knowledge that I retained from his classroom, but I can tell you in the past 20 years he has continued to be a role model for me,” she said. “Dr. Barnes has said that there are three things he hopes students learn from him – always be positive, work hard every day and strive to make someone else’s life better.”

Good challenged the chamber members to practice those three rules daily.

“When you say them out loud, they seem pretty simple, but can you imagine the impact that we could have on our businesses, schools and communities if we just tried to do all three on a regular basis? I know the teachers we recognized today are already doing these things. They are not only impacting students’ lives, but parents, other educators and the cities in which they live and teach. They are role models in their classrooms and for students who will one day lead our communities,” she said.

Cleveland ISD Superintendent Chris Trotter took the stage briefly to explain how House Bill 3 is impacting Texas school districts by changing funding strategies and reducing and reforming property tax laws.

“We are very pleased that the legislators focused in on what we need and gave the taxpayers a good break by reducing some of our taxes,” he said.

The bill increases state funding that makes it possible for school districts to provide pay raises for teachers and also lowers property taxes. Trotter thanked the state legislators for also including a $2,000 payment to retired Texas teachers.

“The Texas Teacher Retirement System has not had a pay increase in years,” he said.

Trotter said he has been in regular communication with local leaders, including State Rep. Bailes and State Senator Robert Nichols, about how to improve the state’s education system.

“They do listen. They can’t always do what we ask them to do but they darn sure went back for public education,” he said.

Trotter briefly mentioned the new Do Not Hire registry that is being implemented.

“The state is further protecting students with the Do Not Hire registry. This is not just about something [teachers] do on the job. It could be off the job as well. The registry is basically a way for superintendents – and now we are all required by law to follow this – to turn in people who are not fit to teach our children,” Trotter said. “Thank you to the legislators for doing that.”

Trotter said there was some consideration for making Cleveland ISD’s pre-kindergarten programs full day, but it would have meant having 19 portable buildings for pre-kindergarten.

“We are going to have to wait a year. As we open up the new elementary campus, we will be able to go full day for those students,” he said.

To help high school students chart a path for their futures, Cleveland ISD is implementing a new program called Freshman Portfolios, Trotter said. Counselors and district administrators will be meeting with every freshman student to create a four-year plan that will get them ready for college, the military or the workforce.


On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Chamber will host its annual Rock N Ride event, which combines a 50-mile bike ride for cycling enthusiasts and music concerts. The fees per cyclist are $34 before Nov. 1 and $50 after and up to the start of the ride.

On Tuesday, Aug. 6, a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held to celebrate the expansion of the Health Center of Southeast Texas. The event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with the ribbon cutting expected to take place at 12:15 p.m. Anyone who wishes to attend should stop by the Health Center of Southeast Texas at 307 N. William Barnett Ave., Cleveland.

On Thursday, Aug. 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Chamber is hosting its monthly Cleveland Connections luncheon at Pueblo Viejo. This is an opportunity to market your business in a friendly, relaxed setting. The cost is $10 per person for a meal, drink and tip. No advance reservation is needed.

On Wednesday, Aug. 28, from noon to 1 p.m., the Chamber will host Chamber 101. This fast-track course is for new and old Chamber members to let them know how to optimize their chamber membership.

On Thursday, Sept. 5, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Chamber will host its next membership luncheon at the Cleveland Civic Center, 201 Peach Ave., Cleveland. Aaron Farmer with Retail Coach will be the guest speaker. The meal will be catered by Fat Floyd’s Smokehouse. The cost is $15 for members and $20 for non-members. Add $5 for walk-in or late registration.

For more information on any of these events, call the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce at 281-592-8786.

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