Honoring San Benito teachers: Top educators receive awards

SAN BENITO — Veronica Rodriguez doesn’t remember the exact moment she wanted to become a teacher.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be a teacher,” she said.

Rodriguez’s mother was a teacher and she was actually a student in her class.

“Being able to experience that was a blessing and I have had the best teachers in elementary,” she said.

“I knew I wanted to be in elementary.”

For Rodriguez, seeing a progression in her students she says “makes her heart smile.”

“My students are my babies, they are my students,” she said.

“At the end of the year when I get to see how much my kids have grown, not only academically but in character, that makes my heart smile.”

Rodriguez’s dedication was a running theme yesterday as she and 17 of her colleagues were honored for their effort and service in teaching.

A teacher from each of the 18 campuses in the school district was honored yesterday at a luncheon along with a guest and the principal from their school.

These teachers now hold the prestigious title of San Benito CISD Teachers of the Year.

Superintendent Dr. Adrian Vega had a special message for his teachers he holds in great esteem.

Every teacher has a journey, according to Vega. Every teacher has that one adult or teacher that made an impact in their life.

“I am referring to that spark, that indescribable feeling that wells up inside your heart, that caused you to want to make a difference,” Vega said.

“When you think about what we do in life, the thing about public education is we’re here to serve all. We don’t pick and choose who crosses the threshold of our classrooms and so it might be that you are the only one in the lives of our kids who believe in them.”

What the teacher writes on the chalkboard of life, Vega said, can never be erased.

“What we learn with pleasure we never forget,” he said.

Teacher Kourtney Leal is a product of San Benito. The teachers who have taught her are now her colleagues.

“If I share my personal life with my students and they realize that I am real like they are, then they are going to value me and what I have to offer,” she said.

“I need to make sure that I make the best of my time that I have. Children are very impressionable, they’re going to take what you give them and if I give them a positive attitude, then they are also going to have that positive attitude.”

After teaching for a while, Leal said some of her former students are now in middle school and high school.

They still come by to see her to reminisce.

“It’s always about the outcome,” Leal said.

“It’s very rewarding to see what a good education, positive influence, positive attitude and motivation can do on a child. The possibilities are endless.”