Graphic with CCISD logo. Congraulations 2023-2024 CCISD Employees of the Year. Features photos of two employees being recognized.

COPPERAS COVE – The brightest stars among staff in Copperas Cove has been named.

CCISD has announced its 2023-24 campus and departmental employees of the year, recognizing the best, most impactful staff members this school year.

Staff were recognized in Auxiliary Employee of the Year, Paraprofessional of the Year, Rookie Teacher of the Year, Elementary Teacher of the Year and Secondary Teacher of the Year.

These employees were recognized recently at a banquet sponsored by H-E-B Plus of Copperas Cove. Thanks to H-E-B’s generous donation, the winner in each category was awarded a trophy and $250.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child and we find that to be true for educating students, as well,” said CCISD superintendent Dr. Joe Burns. “We have so many dedicated educators who truly make an impact, each day, in the education of students in our community. I’d like to congratulate each of the nominees this year for their hard work and dedication. We could not do what we do without their contributions.”

Auxiliary Employee of the Year recognized employees who work in non-instructional departments still vital to the daily operation of the district.

  • Child Nutrition Employee of the Year: Leslie Fraser, Cafeteria Manager

  • Custodial Department Employee of the Year: Lori Charles, Fairview/Jewell Elementary custodian

  • Maintenance Employee of the Year: Tabitha Zavala, Department Secretary

  • Transportation Employee of the Year: Lynette Bateman, Lead Driver & Pre-K/Trip Coordinator

  • Warehouse Services Employee of the Year: Jim Welling, Courier/Clerk

Welling was named CCISD Auxiliary Employee of the Year, as one of the few district employees who is in every district facility on a daily basis. Welling ensures district mail is not only sent on time, but received and delivered to the correct faclilty.

“When others are out sick or on leave, it’s Jim who often steps in, no matter whether they’re in the nutrition department or warehouse,” said Melissa Bryan, CCISD Director of Child Nutrition & Warehouse.

Paraprofessional of the Year recognized the work of the various aides and other staff who help execute educational plans for students each day.

  • Clements/Parsons Elementary School: Debra Crichlow

  • Copperas Cove High School: Maria Trevino

  • Copperas Cove Jr. High School: Angel Jones

  • Crossroads High School: Jerry Hickman

  • Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary School: Julissa Cooke

  • Hettie Halstead Elementary School: Josephine Wilson

  • House Creek Elementary School: Guadalupe Ybarra

  • Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy: Rebecca Henrich

  • Martin Walker Elementary School: Tracy Yarbrough

  • S.C. Lee Jr. High School: Shunmeka Herring

  • Williams/Ledger Elementary School: Lorinda Gory

Yarbrough was named CCISD Paraprofessional of the Year for her chameleon-like contribution at Martin Walker.

“I call Tracy Yarbrough the chameleon of Martin Walker,” principal Breanne Turner said. “As a special education inclusion paraprofessional, she enters about 10 different classrooms each day. That’s 10 teachers, 10 teaching styles, 10 sets of teacher expectations and 10 different lesson plans, and she blends and adjusts her behavior to fit the various needs of each classroom so she can best support her students.”

Rookie Teacher of the Year recognized teachers who were new to the profession, but have still made a profound impact on their students and their colleagues.

  • Clements/Parsons Elementary School: Adrianna Fox

  • Copperas Cove High School: Marlaina Mills

  • Copperas Cove Jr. High School: Jennifer Hammon

  • Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary School: Marcus Harris

  • Hettie Halstead Elementary School: Heidi Herrera

  • House Creek Elementary School: Ilesia Lortz

  • Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy: Sara Janidlo

  • Martin Walker Elementary School: Amy Tiscareno

  • S.C. Lee Jr. High School: Cierra Walker

  • Williams/Ledger Elementary School: Michelle Pfeifer

Marlaina Mills from Copperas Cove High School was named CCISD’s Rookie Teacher of the Year, for her quick work to improve her students’ experience.

“Mrs. Mills has worked tirelessly to update an outdated curriculum for Aquatic Science,” said Dr. Jimmy Shuck, principal at Copperas Cove High School. “She has included new and innovative ideas and labs in non-lab classrooms, as she is a traveling teacher. She doesn’t let her having a classroom on a cart stop her from giving students hands-on experiences that are crucial to student practice and mastery of skills in science.”

Elementary Teacher of the Year recognized the most impactful classroom teachers on each of the district’s seven elementary campus.

  • Clements/Parsons Elementary School: Patricia Bigford

  • Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary School: Lauren Buckram

  • Hettie Halstead Elementary School: Jennifer Knox

  • House Creek Elementary School: Hannah Franklin

  • Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy: Julie Reynolds

  • Martin Walker Elementary School: Ronna Brunson

  • Williams/Ledger Elementary School: Christy Smith

Lauren Buckram was named CCISD Elementary Teacher of the Year and advanced to the ESC Region 12 Teacher of the Year competition.

“Kids are happy around Mrs. Buckram,” said Dr. Rebekah Shuck, principal at Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary. “They know she will listen to them to help them when needed and hold them accountable when needed. Staff love her, too. Her kindness and dedication is unmatched and she radiates positivity.”

The final category, Secondary Teacher of the Year, recognized the best of the classroom teachers at CCISD’s four secondary schools, which serve students in grades 6-12.

  • Copperas Cove High School: Tad Laver

  • Copperas Cove Jr. High School: Crystal Martinez

  • Crossroads High School: Melvin Holliday

  • S.C. Lee Jr. High School: Kerry Cryer

Kerry Cryer was named CCISD Secondary Teacher of the Year and advanced to the ESC Region 12 Teacher of the Year competition.

“Mrs. Cryer’s rapport with her students is exemplified in their success,” said Brian Jost, principal at S.C. Lee Jr. High. “Her students come to tutorials, they grow, she celebrates the growth and notifies parents of how proud she is of their student. Students are better after being in Mrs. Cryer’s room.”

Jennifer Cotter from H-E-B Plus of Copperas Cove added, “The role of a faculty member is one of the most noble and influential professions in society. They are not just educators, but mentors, role models and life-changers. Each day, they walk into their schools with passion and purpose, instilling knowledge, values and a love for learning in the hearts and minds of their students. Thank you for your extraordinary contributions to education and for being the beacon of hope and inspiration that lights the path for our future leaders. From all of us at H-E-B, we extend our heartfelt congratulations. Here’s to many more years of success and achievement.”

CCISD would like to thank its community partners at H-E-B for their generosity in making this event happen and recognizing the hard-working staff in our district.

Pictures of each nominee and from the banquet can be viewed here.