While Houston ISD recently recognized 12 finalists as candidates to be named its 2020-21 elementary and secondary teachers of the year, local schools also named their teachers of the year this spring.

The Leader solicited responses from the top teachers at area schools and featured some of those teachers last week. Standout teachers from additional area schools are highlighted below.

Love Elementary

Lynne Sustala, fifth grade

Principal Eden Bass said Sustala is an exceptional teacher with versatility across all contents in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“We regularly see her class working on new hands-on learning projects like solar pizza ovens or creating custom landform models,” Bass said. “Ms. Sustala has also played an integral role in promoting a positive team culture through this difficult year, always finding ways for staff and students to connect.”

Sustala said one thing she loves about teaching is that it is always an eventful journey she gets to go on with her students.

“We are always learning something new together and every year is a new adventure,” she said.

Memorial Elementary

Michelle Pierce, autism self-contained

Principal Maria Garcia said Pierce is a true advocate for students. 

“She ensures her students have the best environment and support system to thrive academically and socially,” Garcia said.

Pierce said she is a fierce advocate for inclusion and acceptance of all neurodiversities and that she loves her work at Memorial Elementary. 

“Teaching behavior and communication are the backbone of my work and watching my students grow in independence brings me the greatest joy,” Pierce said.

Waltrip High School

Stephani Seewald, English

Principal Michael Niggli said Seewald is a passionate educator who cares about her students and always goes the extra mile for them.

“Aside from the fact that she is very knowledgeable in her content, Ms. Seewald is always willing to spend extra time helping students whether it be with a college application or understanding class material,” he said. “She is a true educator in every sense.”

Seewald said she is passionate about reading and writing.

“Teaching two grade levels of high school English has allowed me to see my students' progress with their journey,” she said. “I love seeing them at the beginning as underclassmen and then, I am blessed to watch them mature into graduating seniors who are ready to venture into the next phase of their lives. Knowing they have expanded their personal experiences through visiting various literary texts makes me so proud to be a part of their lives and future.”

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