Saturday, June 22, 2024

Azle ISD recognizes retirees, awardees


AZLE — At the end of the 2023-2024 school year, Azle ISD saw 37 teachers, administrators and other staff retire. The district recognized these individuals along with other awardees at a second annual ceremony and luncheon held at the Azle Administration Building May 21. Retirees and select quotes are listed below.

2023-24 retirees

  • Eddie Alford
  • Demilla Autry
  • Teresa Bagwell
  • Brandy Baugus
  • Beck
  • Kathleen Carpenter
  • Jamie Carroll
  • Amy Cass
  • Janine Doyle
  • Lisa Deann Dunaway
  • Michele Dunham
  • Diane Eversole
  • Tamara Foster
  • Cheryl Frost
  • Leila Golden-May
  • Laura Hamm
  • Sonny Hill
  • Donita John
  • Pamela Jungman
  • Mark Kehoe
  • Gina Lee
  • Anita Linch
  • Susan McDonald
  • Teresa Moore
  • Paula Parrish
  • Sharon Pelham
  • Letiza Quezada
  • Connie Richards
  • Joseph Richards
  • Becky Spurlock
  • Rhonda Staudt
  • Steven Stutsman
  • Dee Suratt
  • Beth Trammel
  • Denise Tyler
  • Penny Weeks
  • Ernest White

One mainstay and instrumental force in the Azle High School science department is Pamela Jungman. Jungman has been an educator for 42 years, 34 of which were at Azle ISD. Formerly a chemistry teacher, Jungman then became a science instructional coach for the district. Director of Federal Programs and Research Jordan Thiem spoke about his experiences with Jungman and the legacy she will leaves for many AHS teachers.

“The first year that I actually came here to Azle, I came into the science department and Dr. J was a mama bear for the science department,” Thiem said. “She took me under her wing and made sure I was taken care of. She’s done that for countless educators. Then I got to meet her as a department head and got to see what she was doing. Not only was she teaching students, but the students that she taught gained a love for science and they became teachers at Azle ISD, and she actually was a leader for them as well. Then as we started our instructional coach program Dr. J actually took that and she became our first secondary science coach where she just continued to do what she did. She grew teachers, she loved on kids, and she made sure everybody was responsible in what they were doing. She not only took science under its wing but now she was actually an integral part of the new science wing that is there at the high school — she helped design it. She kept programming together and she made sure that every single one of those teachers had exactly what they need to be successful. I think that’s what Dr. J’s done her entire life. Those that have been around her have been affected by her. She’s given a love for science, and she continues to do that now.”

Dee Suratt is another longtime Azle teacher retiring this year.  She has worked in education for 27 years, all of which were at Azle ISD. Surratt currently works at Silver Creek Elementary, where Principal Aubri Deheck said she has taken on many roles throughout the years.

“She has worn several hats during her time in Azle,” Deheck said. “Some of those hats include ‘bus bouncer Dee’ where she had to pull kids off of each other during a fight; ‘kid chaser Dee’ where she once had to literally go in the woods behind the high school to locate some missing students; ‘snake wrangler Dee’ where she had to get a rattlesnake off the recess grounds because the kindergarteners were out there during recess; ‘doctor Dee’ where she has stopped the bleeding on a child’s cut-open head, and she has successfully given the Heimlich maneuver two times; ‘lunch helper Dee’ where she’s paid for countless numbers of students’ outstanding lunch balances; ‘G’ where she serves as the actual grandma of two of her own but also thousands that aren’t her own who she loves the same. She is also known as ‘Mary Poppins Dee’ where she has the best everything drawer in all of 76020 — if you need it she’s got it. I think the best hat she’s worn this year is ‘game warden Dee.’ One morning a deer was struck in front of our school in front of (Farm-to-Market Road) 730 (South) right before school was starting and the entrance to our school was actually closed off by the deer so Dee went out and literally moved the deer into the ditch so that our families could enter the school. Other than one leg coming off of the deer during the move, she did successfully get the deer out of the way so that the families and children didn’t have to see this deer and could enter the building and drop their kids off. There are not enough hooks in the world to hold all the hats that Dee has worn during her time in Azle. We appreciate you so much, we will miss you, thank you for all you’ve done.”

Along with farewells, campuses and the district also recognized Teachers of the Year. Each campus’ Teacher of the Year received a $500 check from the Azle Education Foundation and the primary and secondary district Teachers of the Year received an additional $1,000 and will represent Azle at a future Education Service Center Region 11 conference.

Joanna Reasoner was named district’s primary Teacher of the Year. Reasoner is an Azle graduate who has taught for 16 years at Eagle Heights Elementary. She was thanked by Eagle Heights Elementary Principal Shelly Newton who stood by her side while Reasoner accepted her award and check. Newton recalled a fun fact that further exemplified the teacher’s connection to the district and her principal, saying Reasoner was one of Newton’s fourth grade students at Silver Creek Elementary and Reasoner’s grandmother was Newton’s first-grade teacher.

Amy Hinkle was named the district’s Teacher of the Year. This is her seventh year teaching at Forte Junior High School. Forte Principal William Manley stood alongside Hinkle and spoke about her contributions to the school as an eighth grade U.S. history teacher.

“What’s unique about Ms. Hinkle is that she is a very nontraditional teacher,” Manley said. “If you go in there, you’re going to see all the things that we want to see in 2024 in a classroom, she’s doing it with her kids. She’s pushing out learning onto them, a lot of collaboration, she’s facilitating their excellence. She’s also a lifelong learner. She has applied for grants where she gets a (American Revolutionary War) traveling trunk that comes to her classroom every year. You’ll often see her dressed up as some historical figure when she’s teaching and this year, she’s going to two trainings that she’s been accepted to travel out of state to further her education as part of U.S. history.”

Individual campus Teachers of the Year were also named for the districts seven elementary schools, two junior highs and one high school. Recipients are listed below.

Campus Teachers of the year

  • Azle High School — Neil Corbett
  • Azle Junior High — Jeff Sullivan
  • Forte Junior High — Amy Hinkle
  • Azle Elementary — Dora McDonald
  • Hoover Elementary — Elizabeth Bent
  • Cross Timbers Elementary — Kandi Hawkins
  • Eagle Heights Elementary — Joanna Reasoner
  • Hilltop Elementary — Krista Hopkins
  • Liberty Elementary — Brandy Mazza
  • Silver Creek Elementary — Kacie Krneta
  • Walnut Creek Elementary — Kyndal Crawford

Heart of Azle

The Heart of Azle is awarded to educators, staff and administrators who go above and beyond to take care of students, staff and community. Heart of Azle recipients were recognized and awarded $50 along with other gifts from the Educational Employees Credit Union. Winners of the 2024 Heart of Azle Award are listed below.

  • Amy Yelle
  • Aubri Deheck
  • Becky Spurlock
  • David Doyle
  • Denise Fuller
  • Jill Lormand
  • Keri Dorris
  • Lacy Iglesias
  • Stephen Smith
  • Teresa Bagwell

Principal Stephen Garretson of Walnut Creek Elementary spoke on awardee and retiree Teresa Bagwell’s impact on him throughout their time together.

“The last few years I’ve really got to know Teresa, we are very much alike in a lot of ways,” Garretson said. “We are kindred spirits and we read each other’s thoughts. She’s been my confidant, my friend the person that listens to me and then provides advice, and Walnut Creek will not be the same without her. I’ll tell you that she has taken care of countless students who she wasn’t even responsible for, and she still took care of them. For that we appreciate you and wish you the best as you take care of those two grandbabies.”