SEEA Honorees 2019
Lisa Rollins, 2019 SEEA Honoree
Lisa Rollins, is a Science Academic Support Teacher (AST) at Cody Elementary School in Northside ISD (NISD). Ms. Rollins started her teaching career in Judson ISD in 1983. She joined NISD as an early childhood educator in Pre-K and Kindergarten in 1998 at Howsman Elementary School. She became the Science AST at Cody Elementary School in 2009.
Cody Principal Kittiya Johnson first met Ms. Rollins over 15 years ago at Howsman as a first year administrator. “Lisa was a kindergarten teacher and I loved visiting her classroom,” she said. “Our youngest students were so happy learning through the fun and engaging activities she planned. In addition to being an early childhood education expert, she possesses strong writing, math, and science knowledge and skills, so when a position for an Academic Support Teacher became available at Cody Elementary to address poor performances in those content areas, we were fortunate that she applied for the job,” Johnson adds.
“Lisa creates vibrant and effective ‘hands-on’ science labs complete with living plants and animals,” Johnson explains. “Her classroom came alive with student-scientists, gerbils rolling around in their traveling balls, and insects living in student-made habitats. In less than one year, student academic performance at Cody Elementary improved dramatically after Lisa joined the faculty.”
At Cody, besides bringing her unique skillset of creating another engaging science lab, Rollins added a STEM lab in an adjacent room. Both labs are rich in resources, including a pond with live fish, habitats for various insects, reptiles, fossils, mice, a guinea pig, and much more. She also creates habitats outside the classroom so students can see “real” environments first hand.
“Lisa’s efforts have had a positive impact on student learning at Cody,” Johnson said. “Our campus now leads the District in improved science scores on district and state assessments for campuses with similar demographics.”
As evidence of her creativity, one student said, “Recently, we were able to recreate how archeologists lit up the insides of Egyptian tombs using reflected light,” says Brian Sullens, a fifth grade student at Cody. “Mrs. Rollins broke our science class into small groups, and gave each group a model cardboard tomb and a handful of other materials, and told us to construct a system for lighting the interior of the tomb.”
One of Rollins’ accomplishments has been the creation and expansion of a girls-only STEM Summer Camp called STEM Sisters. Not only do these young ladies participate in engaging STEM challenges, but they are visited every day by female professionals working in a STEM field. The impact of this program on getting girls interested in the STEM field has resulted in it being expanded to 11 additional elementary and middle school campuses in the district.
Another successful project by Ms. Rollins is the implementation of the Project ACORN grant on the campus. The purpose of this project is to bring native plants into neighborhoods and to educate the community about the environment. Rollins has cultivated strong partnerships with many local, state, and national environmental science associations. She oversaw the construction of a campus butterfly and wildflower garden. In the years to come, her vision is to expand the garden into a neighborhood botanical center.
“Mrs. Rollins taught me a respect for all living things and inspired me to start my own garden at home,” Sullens said.
As if she doesn’t have enough to do, she also is involved with or serves as the coach for the campus’ LEGO Robotics Club, Young Astronauts (astronautics), Flight Club (aeronautics), and the campus Solar Car team.
Ms. Rollins holds both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University.) She was the NISD Nominee for the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2015, Campus Teacher of the Year for Cody Elementary in 2015, and Campus Teacher of the Year for Howsman Elementary in 2008.
Angela Ortiz Pichardo, 2019 SEEA Honoree
Angela Ortiz Pichardo is the STEM/Aeronautics/Aviation teacher at Bob Hope Elementary in Southwest ISD (SWISD). She is a UTSA graduate with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice and Bilingual-Bicultural Studies, and has earned her Masters in Integrating Technology Curriculum and Instruction from Walden University. She is also in her first year of Walden’s Doctorate Leadership program.
Ms. Pichardo spearheaded the establishment of the Bob Hope Young Eagles Club three years ago which is one of the first PreK – 5th Grade full campus Aviation Clubs at the elementary level in the San Antonio area. Ms. Picardo was selected by The Dee Howard Foundation (DHF) and SWISD to be the first teacher in the San Antonio area to implement the DHF/Blue Sky Educational Foundation elementary school aeronautical STEM curriculum and to serve as a resource to other teachers and administrators in other schools, both within and outside of SWISD, in their evaluation and implementation of that curriculum. She coordinates and leads many Young Eagles events and has had her students participate in Aviation and Aeronautics endeavors from Kinder to 5th grade. She develops and trains groups of students with activities, which include field trips, hands-on projects, and real-life experiences that lead to career pathways and goals. Some of the those activities have included her students participating in the EAA Young Eagles Rally in which her students were able to take airplane rides at Stinson Airport, indoor skydiving at iFly, and she leads a group of students to the annual UT-Austin Girls in Engineering each year. Ms. Pichardo was selected as a recipient of the 2018 H.E.B. Excellence in Education Award for Outstanding Teachers in the State of Texas and was also recognized as one of the top teachers in San Antonio through the Go Public, KSAT 12 Cool Schools in San Antonio.
This year, Ms. Pichardo was awarded two major grants from the Southwest ISD Foundation, along with five others in the past three year. This year, the 5th grade students will be participating in the San Antonio STEM Education Center, along with a field trip to the Scobee Planetarium. The second award will be used to begin a Jet Propulsion class with the goal to work with local companies and private and public sector institutions to structure activities that will allow for real-life experiences with Scientists in the Space programs here in San Antonio. The next goal for Ms. Pichardo is to structure an Educational program to assist students interested in all of the Aviation, Aeronautics, Aerospace and Interplanetary travel career fields for the future generations. Ms. Pichardo’s goal in all of her teaching activities is to inspire her students to achieve greatness for the sake of humanity alone, and not just for honors or praises.