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AISD Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year Winners Announced during Salute

Earlier this week, the Austin Independent School District announced its Teacher of the Year and Principal of Year winners, among others, during Salute, an annual event hosted by AISD and Austin Partners In Education to celebrate district employees.

The event, held at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, brought together AISD employees, families and community members to recognize some of AISD's most outstanding staff members.

During the event, 100 Teachers of Promise, 32 National Board Certified Teachers, 118 campus Teachers of the Year, and Classified Staff and Principals of the Year were recognized. In addition, for the first time, AISD’s Assistant Principal of the Year, Librarian of the Year and Counselor of the Year were recognized.

“Your work matters. You may not see the evidence every day, but you are making a difference in our students’ lives,” Superintendent Meria Carstarphen told a packed crowd at the beginning of the event. 

The 2013 Salute winners are:

Amanda Guajardo, Classified Staff of the Year, serves as a secretary at Pease Elementary School. Guajardo has 12 years of experience and has been in her current position for more than three years. Prior to becoming the school’s secretary, Guajardo worked at Pease as a childcare teacher in the afterschool care program and as the attendance clerk. Guajardo worked in AISD’s central Public Education Information Management System Department as well.

Sara Stevenson, Librarian of the Year, serves as the school librarian at O. Henry Middle School. Stevenson has 24 years of experience and has been in her current position for 10 years. Stevenson says that her favorite part about being a librarian is helping students select books that they will enjoy and converting them into lifelong readers.

Geoffrey Harter, Counselor of the Year, serves as a counselor at Anderson High School. Harter has 14 years of experience and has served as a counselor at Anderson High School for two years. Harter also serves as the school’s scholarship coordinator. Under his leadership, the school has modernized and individualized its approach to helping students identify scholarships. Harter created targeted scholarship lists, which are easier for students to navigate based on their interests after high school. He also focuses on helping traditionally under-served students by leading a small group each week to help ninth grade boys who are struggling academically and socially.

Yvette Soliz, Assistant Principal of the Year, serves as assistant principal at Williams Elementary School. Soliz has 21 years of experience and has served in her current position for seven years. Prior to becoming assistant principal, Soliz served as the school’s counselor. Soliz helps spearhead the school’s special education programs, which are available to students in all grade levels and include life skills. She also leads cultural celebrations at the campus and provides support to parents.

David Kauffman, Principal of the Year, serves as principal at Lance Corporal Nicholas S. Perez Elementary School. Kauffman has 22 years of educational experience and has been in his current position for seven years. Under his leadership, Perez Elementary was selected as a pilot school for two-way dual language and has been recognized for helping both native Spanish and English speakers achieve high levels academically and to become bilingual, biliterate and bicultural. Kauffman has also worked with staff to develop outdoor educational opportunities for students, resulting in the school being awarded the 2012 John F. Ahrns Award for Environmental Education.

Sarah Dille, Teacher of the Year, teaches English and writing to ninth through 11th grade students at Crockett High School. Dille, who has been a teacher for 13 years, serves on the school’s technology committee and is chair of Crockett’s English department. Most recently, Dille helped lead a campus-wide initiative to implement AVID strategies across the school and has led seminars on how to help students improve their reading skills. Dille also leads professional development groups focused on creating a viable and engaging writing curriculum that targets students struggling with STAAR-level writing.  

The event featured videos, student presenters and performances by the Summitt Elementary School Taiko drum group, Anderson High School band and Lamar Middle School orchestra.

Before announcing AISD’s Teacher of the Year, Anderson High School Teacher and 2012 Teacher of the Year Winner Matt Earhart told the three teacher finalists on stage that they inspired him to continue his own work with his students.

“You all make me want to be a better teacher. For your passion for youth, the expectations you set for yourselves, and your continual rejection of complacency in your attempt to become even better teachers than you already are—thanks,” Earhart said.

The City of Austin was the signature sponsor of Salute and Univision served as the event’s media sponsor.