Recipients from Brays Oaks, North Central, Northline and Southeast Campuses
On September 28, 2019, four YES Prep teachers will be honored at the annual Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award where they will receive a gift of $25,000 each from the Kinder Foundation. The winners were nominated by their school principal. Additionally, each has taught in the same district for three years, demonstrated to be a positive influence on students and faculty, and led students to academic growth.
Presenting YES Prep’s 2019 Kinder Winners
Kristal “Krissy” Watson, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, YES Prep Brays Oaks
Krissy’s classroom is magical, students both excitedly anticipate it and expect to be challenged by it. Krissy’s classroom models high expectations. There is no excuse for not reading or not completing problem sets, and students know they will receive immediate feedback on their work. Due to Krissy’s strong educational background in science, she is a fascinating lecturer, capable of both breaking down concepts so that all students understand her and challenging students through her questioning. Krissy emphasizes writing in order to prepare students for collegiate-level work. Students want to perform for Krissy because they know she cares about them, she believes in them and, if they are not meeting their potential, she will hold them accountable for developing the habits to be successful.
One of her students describes, “Ms. Watson made sure I had a schedule for school, home and work to help me balance my stress. I had negative thoughts about myself and sometimes would give up. Ms. Watson noticed what I was going through and what I was capable of. After just one talk, she made me realize my potential, strengths, and talents. She has built my confidence so much.”
Marla Trujillo, Sixth Grade Math, YES Prep Northline
Marla is the model of a committed, passionate educator who truly serves students and families. Over her six years at YES Prep, Marla has been instrumental in creating a strong campus culture, ensuring high student achievement, and building relationships with students, families, and staff. Marla served as a founding teacher at YES Prep Hoffman six years ago, and this past year, she transitioned to YES Prep Northline as a sixth-grade math teacher. She made this move to expand her impact in her home community, fueled by her commitment to creating change for the neighborhood in which she grew up and in which her family continues to live.
Marla creates a culture of achievement in her classroom by consistently using a hands-on approach to learning and spending time in class each day valuing the effort of her students. When it comes to the achievement of our kids, Marla has consistently proven that no obstacle is too great to overcome.
Caitlin Wales, Eighth Grade Social Studies, Senior Seminar, YES Prep North Central
In the past seven years, Caitlin has taught close to over 1,000 students (300 of whom she taught twice). Caitlin is not only a teacher to her students but also a role model, leader, coach, and confidant. Her passion for our students does not stop with the bell at 4 p.m. She believes that North Central is a family-oriented school and shows that by being the trusted point of contact for so many of our families. She stays late to cheer students on at basketball games and gets in early when students win breakfast prizes for meeting challenging goals. Caitlin plans bid-trips each month that encourage students to earn positive points in classes and ‘spend’ those points on a fun opportunity outside of the classroom. Her relationships show continuity, as she maintains them throughout our students’ years at North Central.
Caitlin is the go-to staff member when a senior is struggling with motivation and knows how to earns their trust so they can share what those obstacles are. Caitlin has no doubt been a key factor in many students' decisions to stay at YES Prep when they were considering easier options.
Jonathan Martinez, Sixth Grade Science, YES Prep Southeast (Teach For America)
Jonathan is no ordinary teacher and he is considered an irreplaceable staff member at YES Prep Southeast. He is a first-generation Mexican-American college graduate. Despite many hardships, he knew education was important and did not let his situation define him. His desire to change perceptions around him and his family propelled him to attend and graduate from Texas A&M where he studied Bioenvironmental Sciences.
Jonathan goes above and beyond to cultivate a positive classroom climate where students feel special and supported. Each year, Jonathan creates a Christmas card featuring his favorite moments with his current class of students and distributes this to students and teachers alike. Having grown up in a similar situation to most of our students, he also mentors students who he feels needs additional support on his personal time. A group of eight grade boys meets in his room every day during lunch for his mentorship.
In addition to the four teachers from YES Prep, this year’s winners also include two teachers from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, four teachers from KIPP Texas Public Schools – Houston, and two teachers with Teach for America-Houston (one teaching in Spring Branch ISD and the other in BakerRipley).
About the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Awards
The Kinder Excellence in Teaching Awards has gifted more than $3.7 million to more than 250 teachers since the program was established in 2001. The program was created in honor of Kinder Foundation Chairman Rich Kinder’s mother, Edna C. Kinder, who taught special education for many years in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
(North Central at 3:03 min; Southeast at 5:03 min; Northline at 9:09; Brays Oaks at 12:00)