Local teachers recognized for their service with “Teachers of the Year” awards | Community Alert

The pandemic posed a challenge for teachers — learning new technology, keeping tabs on remote students and teaching behind a screen.

On Thursday, they were recognized for their hard work and persistence during that stressful time. 

The Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce and the Business-Education Partnership presented the “Teachers of the Year” awards for both 2020 and 2021.

Last year’s luncheon was canceled because of the pandemic.

Districts and schools represented were Comal ISD, New Braunfels ISD, Marion ISD, Navarro ISD, Seguin ISD, New Braunfels Christian Academy and Premier High School of New Braunfels. 

NBISD 2020 Teacher of the Year, Veramendi Elementary librarian Melanie Bowen, said it is a good feeling not only for herself but to recognize all the teachers who worked hard during a difficult time.

“We’ve been part of NBISD for quite a long time so to have that special honor to represent a district that we really enjoy is an honor,” Bowen said. “We had to figure out how to do some things differently to teach and connect with students.”

Comal ISD 2021 Secondary Teacher of the Year Shalonda Davis, who teaches forensic science at Canyon Lake High School, said the past year was different but she felt the support of the district.

“In this past year we’ve had nothing but support and the students are wonderful and I’m super honored and blessed to receive this award,” Davis said. “We had so much support from the district and other coworkers, it’s a blessing to have that support and be able to

New Braunfels ISD Superintendent Dr. Cade Smith poses with some of the district’s teachers of the year, including Kari Cooper, Biology NB Ninth Grade Center, Melanie Bowen, Veramendi Elementary librarian and Melissa Garffer, Veramendi Elementary, second grade.

function. We worked together as a team, that’s what really matters.”

Communities in Schools of South Central Texas was also recognized for two of its on-site coordinators who work with at-risk students to make sure they stay in school.

On-site coordinators Ketzel Jefferson Van Dusen and Moises Parra delivered food to front porches of students’ families, checked in on their remote work and supported them emotionally.

“A lot of the work last year was re-engaging students who were remote or not participating,” Van Dusen said. “As soon as they returned to school we were holding them accountable and re-integrating them back to school and supporting their emotional needs. A lot of students had a lot of loss like family members who got sick or passed away or lost their jobs.”

Parra works at Nixon-Smiley Middle School in Nixon. 

He said teachers and students experienced high anxiety during the pandemic, juggling remote learning and personal trauma. 

He said Communities in Schools came together and powered through to be there for them.

“It’s surprising yet I’m honored just because it represents what everyone else is doing — especially, this past year,” Parra said. “I was really happy and honored that Nixon got recognized, it shows the work middle school is doing.”

Sponsors included CEMEX materials industry, Los Gallos Taco House and Raise Your Hand Texas, a nonprofit which provides education grants. 

Mayor Rusty Brockman and city and county leaders as well as a representative from Sen. Donna Campbell’s office attended.

Each teacher received a letter from her office congratulating them.

National and international motivational speaker Jill White guest spoke and talked about the importance of an impactful teacher in a student’s life.

White said teachers are “changing the world” and “changing it for good” with the way they interact and engage with students to inspire them. 

Comal ISD teachers

Comal ISD Teachers of the Year included Shalonda Davis, forensic science Canyon Lake High School, Courtney Davis, Clear Spring Elementary 5th grade teacher and Canaan Dreibrodt, former Smithson Valley High School ag science teacher.

“We all can look back and say ‘This is my favorite subject, and I know my favorite teacher at my school because they taught that subject,’” White said. “What a powerhouse you are.”

Without teachers, the next generation would not explore and learn, she said. 

“You light that spark,” White said. “And when things are dark, one little light is so powerful. You ignite that curiosity because curiosity is the engine of all achievement.” 

Ending her speech, she gave teachers an inspiring parting message.

“I just want to say two things: Go out and do good,” White said. “And secondly, inspire your students to find the good in the world. There’s a lot of it there and inspire them to do that.”

Davis said her teaching philosophy is to always “put kids first.” 

“As a classroom teacher I’m finding how every child learns and meeting every child where they are,” she said. “And challenging them even when they don’t want to be challenged and they learn to embrace that.”



Comal ISD

2020 Elementary – Jessica Coleman

2020 Secondary – Canaan Dreibrodt

2021 Elementary – Courtney Davis

2021 Secondary – Shalonda Davis

Communities in Schools of South Central Texas

2020 CIS Pacesetter of the Year – Ketzel Jefferson Van Dusen

2021 CIS Pacesetter of the Year – Moises Parra

Marion ISD

2020 Primary (Krueger Campus) – Jennifer Hunter

2020 Primary (Karrer Campus) – Julie Schultze

2020 Middle – Valerie Stoddard

202 High School – Jesus Galvan

2021 Primary Teacher (Krueger Campus) – Taylor Limberg

2021 Middle School – Jo Randolph

2021 High School – Cliff Hill

Navarro ISD 

2020 Elementary – Charlotte Trapp

2020 Intermediate – Celeste Nored

2020 Junior High – Jennifer Leal

2021 Intermediate – Jennifer Mulvaney

2021 High School – Sarah Haltom

2021 High School – Michael Woerndel

New Braunfels Christian Academy 

2021 Elementary – Cari Garner

2021 Middle – Cindy Scobee

2021 High School – Sara Batcheler

2021 High School – Sheila VanRyswyk

New Braunfels ISD

2021 Elementary – Melanie Bowen

2020 Secondary – Kari Cooper

2021 Elementary – Melissa Garffer

2021 Secondary – Kayle Arlaus

Premier High School of New Braunfels

2020 Teacher of the Year – Tanya Marroquin

2021 Teacher of the Year – Tony Whiteside

Seguin ISD

2020 Elementary – Katie Chabot

2020 Secondary – Tommie Jackson

St. John Paul II Catholic High School

2021 Teacher of the Year – Gary Fagan