Beginning Teacher Scholarship Recipients


TRTF's Beginning Teacher Scholarship program reimburses applicants for certification tests and test results, and provides funds to help the applicant purchase materials for his or her classroom during their first year of teaching. TRTF is proud to announce the following scholarship winners for 2020:

Alaina Reiter will receive her teaching certification from Texas Tech University. She is a member of the National Science Teachers Association where she volunteers and collaborates with her peers on ways to improve their science teaching. Alaina’s vision for public education is one that includes “differentiation and a safe, comfortable learning environment for all my students.” She aspires to “create a strong classroom community that will encourage students to take risks that will lead them to become independent learners.” Ms. Reiter is related to TRTA member Jill Reiter from Muenster, Texas. 


Allison Cook will receive her teaching certification from Baylor University where she is majoring in Middle Grades Mathematics. Her vision for public education in Texas is “that both academics as well as the personal and professional skills that students learn from being in school and working with each other are focused on equally.” Ms. Cook plans on bringing ideas like academic games and augmented reality to help teach concepts and skills to her students and help them see mathematics via real-life application. Allison is related to TRTA member Cynthia Prater from Crowley, Texas.


Amber Thompson will receive her teaching certification from Texas A&M University – Texarkana and has “dreamed about being a teacher since she was seven years old.” She plans to utilize the scholarship funds for flexible classroom seating, a library, assistive technology for her special education students, cameras for science projects, manipulatives, and storage containers. Amber says, “I will inspire my students to become responsible citizens that will use their knowledge, talents, and morals in society” and wants “their education [to] give them the power to reach for their dreams.” Ms. Thompson is related to TRTA member Gay Stokes from Big Sandy, Texas.


Bailee Burkett is a Mathematics major and will receive her teaching certification from The University of Texas – Permian Basin. Bailee says that she would like to incorporate technology to differentiate the teaching style in her classroom. In addition, she wants to include a “Wall of Fame” where she can showcase student work that is outstanding and also a “Student of the Week” recognition board. Ms. Burkett states that “the primary goal of teachers should be to mold and guide their students into being the future leaders of America.” She is related to TRTA member Velva Hock from Brownfield, Texas.


Bailey Pruett will receive her teaching certification from the University of Houston and plans on becoming a secondary Science teacher. She says her goal as a teacher “is for my students to learn, be empowered, achieve success, lead, be able to dream, and to always be engaged in class.” Bailey says she wants to incorporate cooperative learning into her classroom because it is important for students to learn from their peers. Ms. Pruett is related to TRTA member and TRTF Board Trustee Brenda Ritter of Katy, Texas.


Bethany Martin will graduate with honors from the University of Texas – Arlington in May and hopes to secure a teaching position as an upper elementary grade Language Arts teacher. She wants “each student to learn to love how to read and write.” In her future classroom, Bethany wants to implement a reading café every six weeks where students will visit different places in the classroom and read a short excerpt from a book. “My classroom will be a community where we will all grow together and help build each other up.” Ms. Martin is related to TRTA member Nina Fancher of Wichita Falls, Texas.


Brittany Houle, a Biology major at Concordia University in Austin, Texas, says that her vision for public education in Texas is one that would require “lots of creativity and dedication.” Her plan is to allow students the freedom to express their own creativity in a classroom that is conducive to learning. Ms. Houle believes that integrated technology into her classroom is a vital tool to her students’ learning as well. She is related to TRTA District Presidents Council Vice-Chair Johnie Walker from Hempstead, Texas. 


Caleb Murrile will receive his degree and teaching certification from Texas State University where he is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, an honor society for educators. Caleb believes that “public education is a building block for our future leaders to grow intellectually, socially, and physically, and should be treated with respect.” He wants his students to feel welcome and safe in his classroom while enjoying their learning experience. Mr. Murrile is related to TRTA member James Murrile from East Bernard, Texas.


Candance Kubecka will receive her degree in Education and teaching certification from The University of Houston – Victoria. She plans to have an “open-minded, comfortable, and accepting classroom” where students will experience “Fun Fridays,” which will promote team building and problem-solving skills. She is related to TRTA member Dorris Andel from Edna, Texas.  


Chelsie Crow from Burleson, Texas attended West Texas A&M where she majored in Animal Science. Her vision as a teacher is to “mold students into lifelong learners.” She plans on leading by example and showing students that learning is fun. She believes that “relating content information to real-life experiences is extremely important, as students are more likely to retain information if they can relate it to their lives.” Ms. Crow is related to TRTA member Janet Broussard of Longview, Texas.


Heather McDaniel will receive her degree and teaching certification from Texas Tech University where she is a member of the National Honor Society and National Society of Leadership and Success. Ms. McDaniel says, “an important part of teaching is not only teaching content but building relationships with the students.” Her goal as a teacher is “to get to know my students’ personalities, interests, and backgrounds so that they feel valued.” She is related to TRTA member Jeanne Ann Thompson of Spicewood, Texas.


Jaylynn Arias is a Music Education major at Southwestern Assemblies of God University where she is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and Kappa Lambda Pi honor societies. Her vision for public education in Texas is that “every student be introduced to music in a positive and reinforcing way.” Jaylynn believes her classroom will encourage learning that goes beyond music. “Students will learn how music education can be applied to other subject areas, as well as good citizenship and ensemble work.” Ms. Arias is related to TRTA member Linda Heller from Inez, Texas.


Kiel Pilgrim will receive his degree in Exercise and Sports Science and teaching certification from Texas State University. Kiel says his vision for public education is that “each child will be educated in the way that best suits them, and that starts with teachers having the tools and awareness to identify different learning styles of each individual student.” He plans on embracing new technology and teaching techniques in his classroom, while “not ignoring what has worked in the past.” Mr. Pilgrim is related to Carol Pilgrim of Brady, Texas.


Kimberly Gadberry will receive her teaching certification from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, where she has been on the Dean’s List every semester, as well as a member of Kappa Delta Pi, an honor society for educators. Kimberly sees her future classroom as “collaborative and hands-on,” where her students “challenge themselves to be learners and researchers of new subjects every day.” She will invite different role models from the public into her classroom to speak so her students can learn about their community and be inspired. Kimberly is related to TRTA member Donna Gadberry from Corpus Christi, Texas.


Lindsey Kruger is a Music Education major at Howard Payne University where she is a member of Tau Beta Sigma, a national service band organization, as well as Gamma Beta Phi, a national academic honors organization. She believes “any student can be musical and that it is the teacher’s job to find out what works for them and help them reach success.” Ms. Kruger wants to “provide students with a fun, safe way to express themselves through music and find the connection in its universal language.” She is related to TRTA member Fran Hunt of Cypress, Texas.


Luke Tinius is from Austin and attended the University of North Texas where he majored in Journalism and minored in Spanish. Mr. Tinius is enrolled in the rigorous training of the Region 13 Educator Certification Program and will begin teaching in the fall of 2020. Mr. Tinius states “I believe that I am capable of providing the leadership, guidance and dedication that is needed to shape the next generation.” Luke is related to TRTA member Alma Molleur from Round Rock, Texas.


Natalie Pineda will receive her teaching certification from Texas A&M University – Texarkana where she is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Natalie states that she wants her classroom to be “one that is calm and inviting, allowing for students to feel comfortable to add to the conversations and educational dialogue.” She wants her class to feel like family so that “they are not only invested in their own learning, but also that of their peers.” Ms. Pineda says the scholarship will allow her to furnish her classroom with the proper materials to show her students that learning is fun. She is related to TRTA member Jane Sennikoff of Pittsburg, Texas.


Samuel Burnside will complete his master’s degree in Math Education at The University of Texas – San Antonio. He plans to institute Constructivism in his classroom, where education and acquisition of knowledge are heavily student-based. Mr. Burnside wants to mix Constructivism with traditional teaching methods “so that I can afford my students the opportunities to discover mathematical material on their own, but also guide their thinking when help is needed.” He is related to TRTA member Karen McCormick from Boerne, Texas.


Taylor Parker is an Interdisciplinary Studies major at Texas A&M University where she is part of Sports for Kids, an organization that hosts sporting events for children in the Bryan-College Station area. She says her classroom “will be strongly student-oriented with content that will speak to the interests of the students and will include opportunities for experimentation and discovery.” Ms. Parker is related to TRTA member Pat Brown of Tyler, Texas.


Vanessa Pena will receive her degree and teaching certification from the University of Houston where she was on the Dean’s List every semester. Vanessa, a wife and mother of two, says that she “felt a true calling to become a teacher after volunteering at my children’s elementary school.” She says she hopes to “have a creative classroom where her students feel joy and are not afraid to make mistakes.” She is related to TRTA member Eloise Flores of Tomball, Texas.
 

2021-2022 TRTF Beginning Teacher Scholarship Winners

  1. Connie Pettitt (University of Houston-Victoria) Her major area of study is Education (4-8) and she will take her teaching certification tests in March and April of 2021. Connie’s goal is to become a Physical Education teacher at the Junior High level and wants to inspire students to “be the best they can be at whatever they choose.” She was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member and TRTF Trustee, Brenda Ritter of Katy, Texas.

     

  2. Daniella Renee Puente (Sam Houston University) Her major area of study is Education and was on the Dean’s List and President’s List every semester of college. Her vision and aspiration for public education in Texas are “for every student to feel valued in the classroom and comfortable to share their ideas.” Daniella was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Melissa Lee of Humble, Texas.

     

  3. Davette Brannon-Ward (University of Phoenix) Her major area of study is English with a minor in Psychology. Davette says her vision for public education in Texas is simple- “to educate the whole child.” She says, “As a teacher, I can foster emotional intelligence by incorporating Social and Emotional learning into my lessons.” Davette was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Patricia Boren of Dallas, Texas.

     

  4. Heather Barron (University of Phoenix) Her major area of study is Psychology with a minor in Elementary Education. Heather says she “wants to bring excitement back into the classroom with creative and innovative technologies and engagements, while fostering a sense of trust and inclusivity for her students and their families so they all feel welcome.” Heather was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Susan Burroughs of Porter, Texas.

     

  5. Jamey Germany (Texas Tech University) Her major area of study is Education, and she was on the President’s List three times in college. Jamey says that student teaching provided her with “an incredible amount of learning experiences that she will be able to incorporate into her classroom this fall.” She was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Tommy Hays of Fritch, Texas.

     

  6. Kacey Bailey Garcia (Texas Tech University) Her major area of study is Education. Kacey says her goal is to “always be open to change and doing what is best for the children” and wants to create an environment where her students are “comfortable enough to step out outside their comfort zone.” She was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Martha Turney of Slaton, Texas.

     

  7. Katie Cummings (Texas A&M University) Her major area of study is Education. Katie says, “As a teacher, I hope to create a classroom where students feel comfortable being who they are, asking questions, being silly, making mistakes, and most importantly, learning.” She hopes to teach lower elementary and believes that “play and exploration is still a huge factor in student learning at this age.” Katie was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Jan Miller of Corsicana, Texas.

     

  8. Katie Rydell (Southwestern University) Her major area of study is Education, and she was on the Dean’s List for six semesters while in college. Katie says her vision for Texas schools is that “they lead out the greatness in all students so that the world may be made great.” The three elements that she believes are essential for this approach are 1.) creating classrooms that value diversity 2.) promoting students’ natural curiosity for learning and 3.) engaging in reflection. Katie was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Darlene Rydell of Taylor, Texas.

     

  9. Kristina Coronado (University of Texas- Rio Grande Valley) Her major area of study is Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Elementary Bilingual. Cristina’s aspirations as a future bilingual educator are to “provide the tools my students need to become better readers, writers, scientists, mathematicians, and most importantly, better human beings.” She was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Sylvia Perez of Brownsville, Texas.

     

  10. Laine Gomes Cornish (IAG/PUC Rio (Brazil)) is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but has lived in Texas for five years now. She has a bachelor’s in arts with a major in Communication as well as an MBA in Marketing. Currently she is working as a Special Education Teacher Assistant in Denton ISD, with plans to take her certification exams this summer. Laine says she hopes that her “vast life experience as well as her experience with different cultures will make a difference in her students’ lives as well as her colleagues.” She was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Mary Helen Cornish.

     

  11. Macey Waid (Texas Tech University) Her major area of study is Multidisciplinary Studies with a minor in Technical Theatre Design and she wants to be a Freshman English teacher. Macey says her students will know that they are cared for and respected, and she will hold them to high standards with lots of grace. She was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Peggy Waid of Denton, Texas.

     

  12. Mackenzie Hill (Texas A&M- Commerce) Her major area of study is Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Childhood Education. Mackenzie says her vision for her future classroom includes lots of manipulatives, inspirational quotes, and all the materials needed for her students to feel comfortable. She says she will strive to do her best to inspire her students to have a growth mindset, set goals, be kind, and “not stress over spilled milk.” Mackenzie was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Kimberley Boswell of Barry, Texas.

     

  13. Madelyn Pipes (Texas A&M University- Texarkana) Her major area of study is Early Childhood Education, and she has known she wanted to be a Kindergarten teacher since she was in Kindergarten. She plans to bring “comfort and safety to the classroom” and wants to utilize technology to benefit her students. Madelyn was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Kerry James of Texarkana, Texas.

     

  14. Madison Cooley (East Texas Baptist University) Her major area of study is Elementary Education, and she believes that “classrooms should be student centered, where students have ownership of their learning and are involved in the learning process.” Madison was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Carol Cooley of Mesquite, Texas.

     

  15. Madison Jan (University of Houston) Her major area of study is Education, and she has always wanted to give back to society in a way that inspires generations to come. Madison says, “As a special needs teacher, my goal will be to help my students in the areas of developing to their full potential, as well as giving them the emotional and academic support they need.” She was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member and TRTF Trustee, Carla Meuth of Rosenberg, Texas.

     

  16. Melissa Edgar (Lubbock Christian) Her major area of study is Early Childhood Education, and she is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education. Melissa believes “public schools in Texas have an opportunity to provide students resources and community while still individualizing learning goals for each student.” She plans to have frequent, hands-on activities where her students can learn by creating and exploring. Melissa was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Dennis Hargrove of Lubbock, Texas.

     

  17. Michele Schmidt (Our Lady of the Lake University) Her major area of study is Liberal Arts with a minor in Political Science. Currently, Michele is a substitute teacher with Humble ISD, and plans to take her teaching certification tests in July 2021. She says she “thrives on finding ways to stimulate and encourage her students’ love of learning” and plans to facilitate that as a full-time teacher. She was referred for this scholarship by Mary Lou Purello of Kingwood, Texas.

     

  18. Ryan O’Bryant (University of San Francisco) His major area of study is Sports Management with a minor in Business Administration. Ryan says his vision for public education in Texas is “to provide an opportunity for all children to feel represented and have a positive role model to help them on their journey of education.” He was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Carol Frosch of Bryan, Texas.

     

  19. Rylee Morrow (University of Houston- Victoria) Her major area of study is Interdisciplinary Studies and she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA. Rylee’s vision is to incorporate both teacher and student-centered instruction into her classroom. She says she “loves hands-on activities and hopes to teach her students how to ask questions and seek answers themselves.” Rylee was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Doris Andel of Edna, Texas.

     

  20. Sara Heinrichs (Howard Payne University) Her major area of study is Theatre Education with a minor in Psychology, and she was on the President’s List each semester for receiving a 4.0 GPA. Sara says she “wants to teach in a way that meets every student at their strengths and challenges them to face their weaknesses.” She was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Kathryn Heinrichs of Hico, Texas.

     

  21. Sarah Mansfield (Texas Tech University) Her major area of study is Early Childhood Education. Sarah’s main goal as a teacher is to encourage her students to believe in themselves no matter what. She would like to implement a word wall for vocabulary in classroom as well as utilize technology using iPads or laptops. Sarah was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member Peggy Waid of Denton, Texas.

     

  22. Therese Cosgray (Texas A&M University) Her major area of study is EC-6 Generalist. She says, “As a teacher, it is my job to meet the needs of each of my students, so that I can teach the whole student.” Therese’s vision for public education is to mold young men and women of virtue to respect others and serve their communities. She was referred for this scholarship by TRTA member and TRTF Trustee, Brenda Ritter of Katy, Texas.