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YISD reveals 2019-2020 Support Employee, Teachers of the Year

Teacher and Support Employee of the Year Ramona Elementary School teacher Fernando Arriaga and Parkland Middle School teacher Michelle Marie Sandoval were named YISD’s top 2019-2020 Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year, respectively, at a special event Friday, May 3, at the Centennial Banquet & Conference Center at Fort Bliss.

In addition, Linda Bustillos from South Loop Elementary School was named the 2019-2020 Support Employee of the Year.

Arriaga, a P.E. and health teacher at Ramona Elementary School, has managed to successfully combine his love of martial arts, physical education, and teaching during his 11 years at YISD and 25 years as a martial-arts instructor. 

Arriaga credits his success to an inspirational Army veteran named Isaac Perea, who taught him martial arts as a child and young man. “He is an influential man who lives every day as if it’s his last, and I developed a passion for teaching through his influence,” he said.

“I love my job, and I am passionate about my profession,” said Arriaga, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

Other finalists for Elementary Teacher of the Year were: Veronica Aguirre (Dolphin Terrace ES), Gaylynn Caraveo (East Point ES), Laura Fonte (Glen Cove ES), and Lisa Martinez-Medina (Pebble Hills ES).

Sandoval, a math teacher at Parkland Middle School, has worked as a teacher for the past 10 years. Her enthusiasm for education has not waned since the day she stepped inside the “energetic and loving” classroom of her first-grade teacher, whom she describes as “ultimate example of an educator and true role model that I still aspire to be.

“Her impact on my life was grand,” said Sandoval, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from UTEP. “I knew I wanted to become a teacher who would touch the lives of so many young minds.”

Other finalists for Secondary Teacher of the Year were George Padilla (Bel Air HS), Casey Rangel (J.M. Hanks HS), Jasmine Estrada (Riverside HS), and Jessica Pussman (Desert View MS).

Bustillos, who has worked for the district for six years, is currently a Special Education aide at South Loop Elementary School. She routinely goes above and beyond in her duties at YISD – including creating new learning stations at her campus this year. Teachers are able to use all four stations (exercise movement, writing, reflection, and cool-down) to enhance student learning.

Other Support Employee of the Year finalists were: Barbara Licon (Cesar Chavez Academy); Lorraine Baeza (J.M. Hanks HS); Bernadette Ross (Parkland ES); and Ida Ruiz (Central Office).