College Roundup - University of Houston
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College Roundup A selection of faculty, staff, student and alumni happenings

May 2021

James Golden, who earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership in 2013, has been named principal of Spring High School in Spring ISD. He currently serves as a principal resident for the district and will begin his new position at the end of the school year.

April 2021

At least six alumni have won Principal/Administrator of the Year awards for 2020-21.

  • Five alumni won First-Year Principal of the Year awards for their region in Houston ISD:
    • Samantha Brooks, North Houston Early College High School
    • Edgar Contreras, Fondren Elementary School
    • Erica Gil, Pugh Elementary School
    • Jerri Nixon, Westbury High School (in her first year leading Westbury)
    • Kylene Vasquez, Ashford Elementary School
  • David Graham, who earned a bachelor’s in health – kinesiology in 2009 and a master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2014, won Administrator of the Year at Texas City High School in Texas City ISD.

Adalia Espinosa, who earned a master’s in higher education in 2019, was elected vice president of communications for the Executive State Board of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education. She has previously served on the board in several areas. Adalia is a career counselor, instructor and pre-law advisor at University of Houston Career Services, supporting students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Cecilia Crear, who earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership in 2013, has been appointed new area superintendent at Alief ISD, where she began her career as a math teacher at Elsik High School. Crear previously served as executive director of secondary schools in Fort Bend ISD.

Geordie Daniel, who earned a bachelor’s in teaching in 2015, won Teacher of the Year for 2019-20 at Fort Bend ISD’s Macario Garcia Middle School. The district recently held a drive-thru celebration for all the winners to acknowledge this achievement from last year.

Detra Johnson, an assistant professor in the professional leadership – K-12 program, has been elected to serve as the 2021 chair-elect of the Research on Women and Education Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). 

March 2021

Professor Norma Olvera won a 2021 Hispanic Health Professionals Leadership Network Award from the National Hispanic Medical Association for her work to improve health in traditionally underserved communities. The award was presented at the association conference in March.

At least 10 alumni have won Teacher of the Year awards from their schools for 2020-21, a particularly challenging year amid the pandemic.

  • Seven won Beginning Teacher of the Year awards in Houston ISD:
    • Guadalupe Banda, first grade teacher, Pugh Elementary
    • Tierra Harris, kindergarten teacher, Woodson Leadership Academy
    • Rosa Ontiveros, fourth grade teacher, Grissom Elementary
    • Maria Reveles , third grade teacher, Pilgrim Academy
    • Jordan Shaw, eighth grade teacher, West Briar Middle School
    • Ebonee Thomas, fourth grade teacher, Blackshear Elementary
    • Vanessa Trejo, kindergarten teacher, Rucker Elementary
    • Banda, Harris, Shaw, Thomas and Trejo were part of Teach Forward Houston, a special program at UH that prepares HISD graduates to return to the district as teachers.
  • Jessica VanCleave, who teaches second grade, won Rookie Teacher of the Year from Alvin ISD’s Pomona Elementary.
  • Hussein Pacha, who earned a bachelor’s in teaching in 2018 and a master’s in administration and supervision in 2020, won Teacher of the Year at Houston ISD’s Arabic Immersion Magnet School.
  • Amanda Posterick, who earned a bachelor’s in teaching in 2004 and a master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2009, won Teacher of the Year at Klein ISD’s Metzler Elementary.

Four faculty members earned UH Teaching Excellence Awards for 2020-21: Clinical Assistant Professor Justin Burris (recognized in the clinical category), Clinical Associate Professor Susie Gronseth (recognized for innovation in instructional technology), Assistant Professor Ruth M. López and Rosenda Murillo (honored as an Undergraduate Research Mentor Award winner).

Associate Dean  Ezemenari Obasi, who directs the UH HEALTH Research Institute, won a UH Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award for 2020-21. The award recognizes faculty who have a “substantial continuing record of outstanding research” and related activities.

Alex Jones, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2006 and an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction in 2007, received the Wilhelmina C. Robertson Excellence in Science or Mathematics Teaching Award from the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Jones teaches science at Horn Elementary in Houston ISD.

February 2021

Stephanie Giuseppetti, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2015, has been named Teacher of the Year at Katy ISD’s McElwain Elementary, where she teaches second grade. Giuseppetti completed her student teaching at Mayde Creek Elementary in Katy ISD.  

Danielle Llaneza, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, has been awarded a Research Pilot Award from the Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program for her work with adult cancer patients and survivors of color during COVID-19. The program is funded by the National Cancer Institute. Llaneza is a graduate fellow in UHAND, a partnership between the University of Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Mark McMahon, a doctoral student in the professional leadership – K-12 program, has been awarded the Governance Research Encouraging Achievement in Texas scholarship from the Texas Association of School Boards. McMahon’s research focuses on school board governance in high-poverty districts. He is currently assistant principal at Hood-Case Elementary in Alvin ISD.

January 2021

Ashley Taylor, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, was selected as a 2021 MD Anderson Outstanding Research Trainee in Cancer Prevention from MD Anderson Cancer Center. Taylor’s research includes reducing cancer-related health disparities within African American and Hispanic populations. She is a graduate of the UHAND program, a partnership between UH and MD Anderson.