Photo Credit: Mike Charlton
On September 22, 2018, twelve Houston area teachers were honored with the annual Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award, four of which were YES Prep teachers, receiving a collective total of $240,000 from the Kinder Foundation.
The winners were nominated by their school leader and school director. Additionally, each has taught at the same district for three years, demonstrated to be a positive influence to students and faculty, and led students to academic growth.
We present the YES Prep 2018 Kinder winners
Jesus Ruiz, 6th Grade Math – YES Prep Southeast (Teach for America)
Jesus “Jesse” Ruiz is an amazing teacher who has been a driving force at YES Prep to eliminate educational inequity by supporting all students to meet high and unwavering academic expectations. He leads with passion for standards-based grading and produces high quality instructional materials. Jesse breaks barriers professionally and personally – he is a first generation Mexican-American college graduate and at YES Prep, Jesse was the first Latino teacher to achieve “Advanced” teacher status on the continuum. Jesse is extremely focused on clear and engaging content delivery and sustained practice with feedback.
Maria Nunez, 6th Grade Math – YES Prep Fifth Ward (Teach for America)
Maria Nunez builds an exemplary positive culture with her students along with a stellar physical environment to reinforce her course goals. Maria is known for her dry sense of humor, but her fierce focus on results is no joke. Her students are not afraid to take a risk because Maria has been relentless in her efforts to ensure that students feel safe, celebrated and challenged each and every day. In her spare time, Maria has been a valued member and leader of our campus care group, to ensure we remember to take time to celebrate the big and small wins both personally and professionally. She has also dedicated countless hours to provide written and in person translation to ensure our non-English speaking guardians are fully informed about things that matter most in the lives of their children.
Claudia Lozano, Algebra I – YES Prep North Forest
Claudia Lozano is a notable example of resilience and persistence. She sacrifices her time, energy, and resources for the betterment of our students. They are better because of the way she advocates for them and pushes them to know math in a way that will benefit them long-term. Claudia is an amazing educator who authentically cares and desires the best for all students. One of her students this year said, “Ms. Lozano connects with the students and builds relationships. For example, last time we got in trouble she was there to support us, and she was by our side to ensure we got a fair consequence. She doesn’t only care what happens in her classroom. She cares about you all the time.”
Chris Peck, Algebra II – YES Prep North Central
Chris Peck is a team-oriented, humble, and driven teacher. He works tirelessly to ensure that every student in his class performs to the best of his or her ability; this is just one of many reasons why Chris’ students love him as much as they do. Chris has also instilled a sense of self-advocacy in his students and he balances rigor with support daily. In his classroom, every single student knows what is expected of him or her, and Chris’ students are motivated to do their best while encouraging one another. On a daily basis, you can find Chris in his unofficial office at a table in the corner of the cafeteria during all three lunch periods. Chris constantly builds transformative relationships with students—even students he has never taught before. Chris enjoys meeting new students and continuing to build on the relationships he has already established.
In addition to the four teachers from YES Prep, this year’s winners also included two teachers from the 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 Houston ISD).
Honoring teachers since 2001
The Kinder Excellence in Teaching Awards have impacted the lives of approximately 200 teachers since the program was established in 2001 and has awarded a total of $3.4 million in grants. 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.