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Austin ISD Salutes Teaching Excellence - District Honors Principal, Teacher and Classified Staff Member of the Year

Austin, TX—Tonight, Austin Independent School District and Austin Partners in Education paid tribute to teaching excellence at Salute, an annual event recognizing exceptional teachers and staff members throughout the district. Among the top honors presented were AISD Principal of the Year, AISD Teacher of the Year and AISD Classified Staff Member of the Year.


Donna Houser, AISD Principal of the Year, served as an educator in her home state of New Mexico before beginning her career at AISD as the assistant principal at Bowie High School in 2001. Three years later, Houser was named the principal at Murchison Middle School. In 2007, she became the principal at Anderson High School. During her time at Anderson, the school has been named to Newsweek's and the Washington Post's Top High Schools in America, recognized by the Texas Business and Education Coalition as one of the Top 20 High Schools in Texas and named as a Top Ten High School in Texas by Children at Risk.

Matt Earhart, AISD Teacher of the Year, teaches five sections of Advancement via Individual Determination and one section of Contemporary Issues at Anderson High School. During the fall of 2008, Earhart requested to take over the uncertified and dilapidated AVID program. He started from scratch, recruiting a class of incoming freshmen from a feeder middle school, and nearly four years later, the Anderson AVID program has 122 students and plans to expand to 150 students next year.

Matt will serve as the district's nominee for the Texas Teacher of the Year award.

Diana Luna de Valladares, AISD Classified Staff Member of the Year, began her career with AISD in 2008 as a substitute food production specialist. She earned the positions of food production specialist, assistant head custodian and head custodian. Luna de Valladares has worked at Paredes Middle School, Gorzycki Middle School, Walnut Creek Elementary and Cunningham Elementary School. During her time with AISD, she improved the cleaning areas and assignments to better meet the campuses' cleaning needs.

"If our students are the heart of our school system, then educators – teacher, principals and the staff who support them – are the soul," Meria Carstarphen, Austin ISD Superintendent, said. "We salute our top talent in AISD and honor hundreds of our district's finest."

View event highlights on our Facebook page. Read the Superintendent's blog.