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Congratulations to our 2018-19 Teachers of the Year!

By Travis Hairgrove

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The countless hours that teachers spend planning lessons, instructing, tutoring, grading, connecting with students and meeting with parents arguably makes every teacher deserving of praise and admiration. In the spirit of this, the principals of the Greenville Independent School District have each selected a teacher of the year for their campus.

This year’s honorees are:


Emma Smith, an English as a Second Language teacher at L.P. Waters Early Childhood Center who believes that a teacher should exhibit enthusiasm for a variety of things, whether it be music, dance, art, technology or other hands on activities to help encourage children to develop their own love of learning.

Lori Shaw, a teacher of students in the gifted and talented program at Bowie Elementary School who, early on, took to heart importance of consistency, patience, humor and creativity in the classroom, and pushes her students in activities ranging from acting out scenes from Shakespeare’s plays to raising money to “buy a water buffalo for a needy family in Asia;”

Susana Gomez, a third-grade bilingual teacher at Carver Elementary School who is also very active in the school’s PTA, Destination Imagination, and the Students Safety Patrol and the Carver Senior Night committees;

Stella Gonzales, a kindergarten teacher at Crockett Elementary School who places a high priority on building connections with her students so that lessons are less likely to “fall on deaf ears,” and enthusiastically celebrates her students’ successes to make that bond even stronger;  

Melissa Waldroup, a fourth-grade teacher at Lamar Elementary School who believes that students need to “know that they are cared for and safe” before they can be successful in the classroom, and who delights in hearing fifth grade teachers talk about her former students saying, “Mrs. Wauldroup already taught us that;”

Irma Lopez, a kindergarten teacher at Travis Elementary School whose road to becoming a teacher was longer and bumpier than most due to immigrating to the U.S. as an adult from Mexico, and who prides herself in her ability to bring the best out of “trouble makers” by listening to and seeking to understand them;

Diana Smith, a fifth-grade teacher at the Katherine G. Johnson STEM Academy who has worked with her husband on the construction of a four seat composite plane, which has given her insight on the engineering design process to share with her students, and who also teaches her students music and how to play the recorder;

Shannon Hamilton, a math teacher at the Houston Education Center who believes that by “allowing students to think and fumble their way through discovery and collaboration will help shape them for adulthood by teaching them to be a forever learner and how to work with others,” and that creating an environment where “students feel free to ask questions and share ideas without fear of judgement from the teacher and other students” is key to effective inquiry-based learning;

Heather Clark, a science teacher at the Sixth Grade Center whose teaching style is largely driven by forging relationships and building a rapport with her students, and whose goal is to help sixth graders transition from elementary school to middle school by getting them used to stricter deadlines, collaboration and understanding their own learning styles;

Whitney Homack, an English language arts teacher at Greenville Middle School who makes a conscious effort to remain consistent by saying what she means and following through, and enjoys accepting friend requests on Facebook from former students (if they send the request) and watching them grow up; and

Shannon DeGarso, a special education teacher at Greenville High School who strives to identify the natural talents her students possess and how to use those strengths regardless of disability.


Additional Note from GISD:

These teachers were chosen by their colleagues, which is tremendous honor! From among these amazing campus teachers of the year, GISD has named two Teachers of the Year to go on to represent GISD in the Region 10 competition:

  • This year’s Elementary Teacher of the Year is Lori Shaw from Bowie Elementary.
  • This year’s Secondary Teacher of the Year is Heather Clark from the Sixth Grade Center.

Congratulations to our outstanding teachers! We appreciate you!