Teachers recognized for hard work, dedication

HARLINGEN — She was in a morning staff meeting when her principal gave some unsettling news.

“She said someone was crashing our Zoom meeting,” said Christina Medrano, who teaches second grade at Zavala Elementary.

Medrano’s apprehension soon changed to joyous surprise.

The “crasher” was Harlingen Superintendent Art Cavazos. He was “zooming in” to inform her she was the Harlingen school district’s Teacher of the Year for elementary.

“It was very surprising,” she said. “Obviously, it’s a big honor.”

It was a fitting way to begin Teacher Appreciation Week, which continues throughout the week, honoring teachers across the district and the rest of the country.

Cavazos also paid a virtual visit Monday to Teresa Cuellar, who teaches education and training at Harlingen High School.

“I teach kids how to be teachers,” said Cuellar, who has taught education and training for 11 years.

She too was surprised to learn she’s the district’s Teacher of the Year for secondary.

“I am very humbled,” Cuellar said. “There are so many great teachers and to be selected, it’s an honor.”

She didn’t realize how much of an impact she’d made on her students until they began congratulating her for recognition.

“Old students that graduated a long time ago have been reaching out to me,” she said. “I never realized how many kids I influenced. That’s the best part of it.”

Cavazos extolled Medrano, Cuellar and all teachers throughout the United States.

“I am proud to join others across the nation in letting our educators know how valued and loved they are by their students and their families,” Cavazos said. “Our entire HCISD community appreciates their passion and hard work.”

He spoke more directly to the district’s 1,200 teachers whom he described as “educational ambassadors in our community.”

“A teacher’s devotion lays the groundwork in preparing our world’s next leaders, scientists, doctors and nurses,” he said. “Some of them have had the privilege to teach our current frontline healthcare workers dedicating their time to saving lives.”

The two instructors will compete later this year for regional teachers of the year against all other Valley school districts.