Teachers honored for inspiring students

HOUSTON Students, parents, principals, fellow educators, and even spouses nominated exceptional teachers for the opportunity to be recognized at a Houston Rockets game as a "Devon Energy Teacher of the Game."

The Devon Energy Teacher of the Game program honors 10 teachers in Pre-K through 12th grades who go above and beyond in their efforts to inspire students to succeed in both school and life. Houston High School was recently reconstituted for poor academic performance, but most of the 260 nominations were submitted by Houston High School students who appreciate their teachers' tireless work and dedication to turn that around.

Teachers Shannon Koebelen and Victor Balderas were surprised Monday morning by Devon officials and Clutch, the Houston Rockets mascot, in front of students, some of whom nominated them for the honor.

"Mr. (Victor) Balderas is a teacher that loves what he does. You can see it by the way he teaches. He did so much to motivate me," one student wrote. "Thanks to him, I know I can accomplish anything I set my mind to do."

English Teacher Shannon Koebelen received the most nominations, which consisted of an entry form and a 500-word essay highlighting the teacher's contributions.

"Ms. (Shannon) Koebelen has inspired me to graduate and be successful. I really don't have anyone else there for me. I appreciate her for giving me an extra push and believing in me," one student wrote. "She encourages us to move ahead and fight with all out strength for a bright future, to do our best in class and in our lives," another student wrote.

"We are excited to partner with the Houston Rockets to help recognize these distinguished teachers," said Joseph P. Ash, Devon's vice president and general manager, International Division. "The amazing response in nominations from students and others who appreciate these outstanding teachers is inspirational."

Ten teachers will be honored as a "Devon Energy Teacher of the Game" at a Rockets home game. Selected teachers also will receive a $100 gift certificate for the purchase of school supplies, two tickets to a Rockets game, a commemorative T-shirt, public recognition on the basketball court, complete with a scoreboard announcement and a special award.

Other Devon Energy Teacher of the Game winners are as follows:

  • Queneesa Alexander - Houston ISD - Southmayd Elementary
  • Bonnie Branch - Houston ISD - Emerson Elementary
  • Gerald Griffin - Aldine ISD - Eisenhower Ninth Grade School
  • Damon Jasso - Houston ISD - Chavez High School
  • Melissa Sanders - Galena Park ISD - Galena Park High School
  • Beverly Smith - Houston ISD - Alcott Elementary
  • Amy Spitnale - Spring Branch ISD - School of Choice
  • Lisa Stoyak - Tomball ISD - Northpointe Intermediate
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