In 2016, TCTA revamped its statewide awards program, and the Communications/PR and Legislation committees have selected the following 2016-17 winners.

Leader of the Year

RODNEY DICKENSON
Lubbock CTA

With 27 years in education, Dickenson has served at every level of the local CTA, starting as a faculty representative and working his way up to president. His accomplishments include revamping the Lubbock CTA newsletter to keep members informed and creating the paraprofessional of the year award, which became a state award category this year. Judges commended Dickenson’s dedication to TCTA and education, putting others above himself to maintain a strong and unified CTA.

Faculty Representative of the Year

SANDI HANSEN
Lubbock CTA

In only her second year in Lubbock ISD, Hansen has made an impact on her campus, tackling high teacher turnover to help recruit new teachers to TCTA. Following in the footsteps of her parents, who both served as FRs in another district, Hansen not only doubled TCTA membership at her campus, but also joined the Lubbock CTA executive team as Public Relations Chair. Judges said Hansen has shown growth and leadership and commended her for getting involved to be an advocate for teachers on her campus.

Paraprofessional of the Year

DEBRA GRAHAM
Lubbock CTA

A TCTA member since 1991, Graham has worked with students from pre-K through sixth grade in a variety of areas — from writing, reading and math, to library skills, computer literacy and science. She’s helped English language learners, special education students and teachers on her campus to improve the learning experience. Judges praised her dedication and service, especially her willingness to help new colleagues and initiate programs, volunteering her time when needed.

Retiree of the Year

ROSEMARY CARDENAS
Lubbock CTA

After a 39-year teaching career, Cardenas still hasn’t slowed down. She now volunteers at two local elementary schools and continues to be actively involved with TCTA. She helps answer phones and manage records and supports local CTA officers as a valued advisor while continuing to attend state conven-tions. Judges said Lubbock CTA is blessed to have someone with the passion and determination to go above and beyond. Lubbock’s leaders agree, calling Cardenas “a gem as an active member and a diamond as our retiree.” 

Administrator of the Year

DOYLE VOGLER
Lubbock CTA

From his days as a math teacher to his current role as associate superintendent of secondary schools in Lubbock ISD, Vogler is a highly regarded 28-year educator. He believes “educators, parents and students must form a strong relationship in order to educate the whole child.” Vogler is always in schools, working alongside teachers to answer questions, offer advice and seek their input to achieve what is best for students. Judges commended his leadership and his acknowledgment of teachers as his peers. He knows education is an influential field of service and works to empower the classroom teachers who leave a lasting impact on generations to come.

Friend of Education Private Citizen

DEBBIE COPELAND
Lubbock

As the director of outreach ministry at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Copeland reached out to the Junior League about its Food2Kids Program. The church expanded the “Bowie Buddy Bag” project to provide weekend snacks, along with school supplies and winter coats, for about 40 students over the last two years. A retired educator, Copeland also encouraged church members to support Bowie Elementary School teachers, hosting a luncheon and breakfast for staff, and offering small tokens of appreciation. Church members also volunteer at the school. Judges commended Copeland for finding a way to go above and beyond the Food2Kids Program to make a lasting impact on the school and the community.

Silver Apple Media Award

BRIAN M. ROSENTHAL
Houston Chronicle

It began with a simple question: Why is Texas last in America in the percentage of students in special education? Delving into data, Rosenthal found an answer: The Texas Education Agency set a “benchmark” that limits special education enrollment to 8.5 percent of a district’s student population. Through his seven-part “Denied” series, Rosenthal’s reporting has become a catalyst for change, prompting the U.S. Department of Education to investigate the state’s policy and TEA officials to drop the arbitrary cap. Judges commended his outstanding and well-researched investigative reporting, which is helping reshape special education in Texas. The series, which can be read at www.houstonchronicle.com/denied, also earned commendation this year as a finalist in the public service category for the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

Note: Names of nominees, districts and other identifying information are redacted during the judging process in all categories except, Silver Apple and Friend of Education.