The 2023 Area Teachers of the Year were recognized by the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce and the Business-Education Partnership Committee at the 21st annual back-to-school luncheon on Aug. 3.

The Business Education Partnership Committee advocates for education throughout the community, acting on the recommendations of the Mayor’s Higher Education Task Force. The partnership works year-round on educational issues involving curriculum, finance and facilities, according to the chamber.

“I am incredibly thankful that this community has found a time to pause for just a moment to thank those that make such a huge impact in the lives of so many,” said Cordell Bunch, the BEP Committee vice chair. “And while there are only a few of you selected as teacher of the year, the teachers all over the great state of Texas and the world contribute selflessly and we cannot forget to tip our hats to them.”

What the experts say

Beverly Trollinger, a retired educator from New Braunfels High School spoke at the luncheon to share stories of her 30 years of experience in the field and inspire the teachers in attendance ahead of the upcoming school year. With expertise in teaching technology-based courses, she spoke about how teachers have to learn and adapt every day to hone their crafts.

“You're going to spend eight hours a day, 187 days a year in that classroom with those students and they become like family,” Trollinger said. “But so do your colleagues, administrators, cafeteria ladies, paraprofessionals, custodians and even parents. During that time, you're going to encounter situations of conflict. Challenges that push you to the very limit ... Don't allow this time to pass [you by], embrace it. Embrace and love those students.”

Trollinger said teachers will see a diverse range of students from different backgrounds throughout their careers, and they will have the unique ability to leave a positive impact on their lives.

“When you put your heart into your students, they open theirs to you,” Trollinger said. “And it is through this connection that not only learning happens but growth as well. You will for the rest of your life be connected to those students.”

Diving in deeper

The best advice Trollinger said she could give teachers is to love and appreciate each of their students from the moment they step into their classrooms in the upcoming school year.

“First day, all those kids are going to come spilling in and you're going to fall in love all over again like we did last year, like you're going to do next year,” Trollinger said. “Teach them. By all means, hone your craft [and] teach them. But love them, laugh with them, and let them take another piece of your heart because I guarantee ... there's always going to be room to love those students. Have a great year.”

Those recognized at the event as 2023 Teachers of the Year include:

Comal ISD
  • Alice Tuckness - Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • A’ndrea Fisher - Secondary Teacher of the Year
New Braunfels ISD
  • Cathleen Jenkerson - Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Melinda Kniseley - Secondary Teacher of the Year
Communities in Schools of South Central Texas
  • Tanisha Workman - CIS Pacesetter of the Year
Marion ISD
  • Kassidy Walsingham - Primary Teacher of the Year (Krueger Campus)
  • Melissa Equia - Primary Teacher of the Year (Karrer Campus)
  • Jennifer Lynn Lott - Middle School Teacher of the Year
  • Mallory Tesch - High School Teacher of the Year
Navarro ISD
  • Heather Hayes - Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Megan Lopez - Intermediate Teacher of the Year
  • Kari Cooper - Junior High Teacher of the Year
  • Michelle Blount - High School Teacher of the Year
  • Daniel Meyers - High School Teacher of the Year
New Braunfels Christian Academy
  • Kate Karbach - Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Lauren Gadberry - Middle School Teacher of the Year
  • Chris Murrell - High School Teacher of the Year
Premier High School of New Braunfels
  • Kyle Forlano - Teacher of the Year
Seguin ISD
  • Stephanie Weaver - Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Christina Smith - Secondary Teacher of the Year
St. John Paul II Catholic High School
  • Tim Fisher - Teacher of the Year
Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School
  • Tammy Zgabay - Teacher of the Year