Waller ISD (WISD) has announced its 2021-2022 elementary and secondary Teacher of the Year and Rookie of the Year. District winners were first chosen as their campus’ winner selected by fellow staff members. Congratulations to Elementary Teacher of the Year Christina Godfrey, Secondary Teacher of the Year Andrew “Andy” Hart, Elementary Rookie of the Year Hannah Raney, and Secondary Rookie of the Year Sara Qishawi To be named district winners each campus-level winner completed an application process that included written responses and an interview. During the interviews, each campus winner had 30 minutes to speak with a panel of judges consisting of district staff and previous winners.
“The selection panel really had a tough choice to make, each candidate came out strong and had a unique reason of why they are in education,” WISD Cheif Academic Officer Kelly Baehren said. “Their passion, energy, and love of teaching really came out in their interviews.
Each district winner was awarded a gift bag and $25 gift card from Brazos Valley School Credit Union (BVSCU) and a $50 gift card from H-E-B. Winners also receive a certificate and a class ring donated by Balfour with the year and teacher or rookie of the year inscribed. WISD would like to thank BVSCU, H-E-B, and Balfour for supporting WISD and our educators.
Hart and Godfrey will advance to compete to be Region 4 Teacher of the Year against other school district teachers of the year within Region 4. The process is similar to WISD’s process including an application and interview. Region 4 winners will be announced near mid-summer. Good luck to Hart and Godfrey on their next step!
Video highlights of campus winners can be found on the WISD website or WISD’s official YouTube channel.
Elementary Teacher of the Year: Christina Godfrey, H.T. Jones Elementary (JES)
Godfrey was inspired to become a teacher at a young age by her elementary school librarian and her love of books. After 20 years in education, she continues to focus on instilling the same love of literature in her students.
“Teaching is my oxygen,” Godfrey said. “It gives me life to teach students to love reading and learning.”
Godfrey is a 12-year WISD veteran teacher who currently teaches first grade at JES. Her favorite part of working in WISD is the family atmosphere and how everyone within the district works to uplift each other. In a year of online and on-campus learning, Godfrey has worked to help students stick to a consistent routine, work efficiently, and maintain communication with parents.
“I would advise first-year teachers to always remember that they have the ability to make a positive difference, each and every day, in the lives of their students,” Godfrey said.
Secondary Teacher of the Year: Andrew “Andy” Hart, Waller High School (WHS)
Hart has been working in education for 24 years; the last four in WISD. He became a teacher to guide future generations and chose the high school level to help students find their talents. Hart has his hand in many special areas of WHS including Theatre, Speech, Yearbook, and UIL.
“My students and families know I am an open book, what you see is what you get,” Hart said.
Hart adds that his favorite thing about WISD is the trust campus leaders have in their teachers. When in need, he knows administrators will always be there to lend a hand. At the end of the school year, Hart is most excited to celebrate student success.
“Teachers need to believe in what they are doing because they will not see the fruits of their labor for a while, which is okay,” Hart said. “When the rewards come, the fruit is pretty sweet.”
Elementary Rookie of the Year: Hannah Raney, H.T. Jones Elementary (JES)
Raney decided to become a teacher because of her experiences working with children in soccer camps and Sunday school from a young age. When deciding on which district to join as a first year teacher, she chose WISD because of the opportunity to work with students from diverse backgrounds. Raney specifically wanted to work in elementary to help young children build a strong educational foundation, while having fun.
“I have had nothing but positive experiences while working at WISD. Whenever I need help with anything, someone is always there to assist me,” Raney said. “My team, the staff, the administration, and the instructional coaches have guided and mentored me as I navigate my first year as a teacher”
In a year of first experiences, Raney has learned that not everything will go as planned and the importance of being adaptable. Instead of trying to be perfect, she has focused on giving students an authentic learning experience. Whether learning online or on-campus, student engagement and access to resources have been the key to success.
“One thing that I want both my parents and students to know is that my students mean the world to me and that I love them so much,” Raney said. “I do all that I do because I care so much about the success and growth of my students!”
Secondary Rookie of the Year: Sara Qishawi, Waller Junior High (WJH)
Since middle school, Qishawi has worked toward becoming a teacher and chose to work with secondary students because of the age group and their discovery of who they are and what they want to be. She has previously worked at a Special Education paraprofessional, but joined WISD this year as a first-year teacher.
“I love that we are ‘ALL IN!’ for our students. Working at Waller ISD has been so different compared to working at other districts I’ve been in,” Qishawi said. “I am so grateful every day that I get to come to Waller Junior High and work with amazing friends, mentors, and wonderful students. I hope to stay forever!”
She dedicates her time to letting her students know she is always available to them by holding extra lesson time for them or even creating personalized videos to cheer them on.
“I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be perfect every single day. Some lessons won’t go the way you planned or some students might react the way you weren’t hoping, but that doesn’t mean you are failing,” Qishawi said. “It’s important to remember that every time I thought I could have done better, that means I was actually being a great teacher.”