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H-E-B honors 8 Austin-area teachers, principals for excellence


The eight local educators hail from Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock districts, and one charter school.

The educators were awarded $1,000 each, plus money for their schools, and are among 40 statewide finalists.

Six Austin-area teachers and two principals are finalists for the 2018 H-E-B Excellence in Education awards, the largest award program in the state that offers cash prizes for educators.

The eight Central Texas educators recognized as among the best in their profession are from Austin, Pflugerville, Taylor, Dripping Springs, Marble Falls and Round Rock school districts, as well as one charter school.

The educators, among 40 finalists statewide, were surprised at their schools this week with $1,000 checks, plus money for their campuses.

The finalists are awarded in three categories: Rising Star, for those 10 or fewer years of experience; Leadership, for those with 10 to 20 years; and Lifetime Achievement, for those with 20 or more years of experience.

The Central Texas finalists include:

Allie Duffy, a second grade teacher at Joe Lee Johnson Elementary in Round Rock. Duffy, who has been an educator for eight years, last year was named the district’s elementary teacher of the year and was also named the Region 13 Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Jewellyn Forrest, a fourth grade teacher at Kiker Elementary in Austin was named finalist for the Lifetime Achievement award for elementary educators.

Kimberlee Allen McLeod is an AP English teacher and National Honor Society sponsor at Marble Falls High school. She has taught in Marble Falls five of her nine years as an educator.

Leticia Muñoz, a science teacher at Park Crest Middle School in Pflugerville, also is the staff health and wellness leader on her campus.

James Pasto, principal of KIPP Austin Collegiate. Pasto has led the campus since 2015 and previously was an educator in California and Florida.

Julie Pryor, the principal of Walnut Springs Elementary in Dripping Springs. Pryor has led the campus for nine years and has been an administrator for 20 years, including serving in various Austin district schools before moving to Dripping Springs.

Vicki Rowe, an AP English teacher at Taylor High School, is a finalist for the lifetime achievement award for secondary teachers. She has led the school’s Academic Decathlon team for more than a decade.

Stephanie Stoebe teaches fourth grade language arts and social studies at Teravista Elementary in Round Rock. Formerly an instructional leader at Cedar Ridge High School, she won the 2012 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year award.

The finalists, chosen by regional judging panels made up of community leaders, administrators and former winners, now will be individually interviewed by a statewide panel of judges and will compete for the state awards. The eight winners will be awarded between $5,000 and $25,000, depending on their category, as well as up to $25,000 for their schools. The winners will be announced in May at an awards ceremony in Houston.

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