Region 12 Award Winners
ESC Region 12 is committed to recognizing winners in our region.
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Superintendent of the Year
Teacher of the Year
School Board of the Year
Dr. George Kazanas
Dr. George Kazanas has served as superintendent in Midway ISD since 2012. He has overseen a number of innovative instructional programs and impactful student support services, including the district’s 1-to-1 technology program, flexible learning environments and collaborative research partnerships with Baylor University. Under his guidance, the district has seen growth in the number of distinctions based on STAAR scores, an increase in the number of students taking college entrance exams, and a reduction in expulsions.
He holds a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Tarleton State University, and a Master of Science, among others.
LTC Joseph Merlo
LTC Joseph Merlo has taught in Killeen for 14 years and leads the Killeen ISD Army JROTC program. He is described as, “a teacher and a leader who works with students to ensure they grow emotionally as well as intellectually.” Merlo’s teaching philosophy focuses on three pillars: be approachable, be consistent and be respectful. He believes that students respond to teachers they can connect with and they, “want to learn things they can apply in real life whenever possible.”
His focus is motivating young people to become better citizens through leadership development.
Tanya Linex has taught at Navarro Elementary in Corsicana for two years. She teaches second grade and focuses on making lessons challenging, but also individualized to help all students feel successful and empowered. She involves her students in adopting weekly learning goals and moves them through station rotations, based on their needs and weekly content.
Linex is a role model for this type of learning and believes confident teachers, “pass their learning and confidence to their own students!”
West ISD Board of Trustees
Dr. Larry Sparks, President
Larry Hykel, Vice President
Leigh Crawshaw, Secretary
Dr. John Crowder
Dr. Marc Faulkner
China Spring ISD
Dr. Marc Faulkner has served as superintendent in China Spring ISD since 2012. His actions and attitude focus on implementing systems, policies and practices that encourage his students, his faculty and his community to strive for excellence.
Faulkner is an active member of various associations in his community including the Texas Association of School Administrators, the China Spring-Bosqueville Area Lions Club, and Friends of Texas Public Schools.
He has multiple degrees and certifications, including a Master of Education from Tarleton State University and a Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University. He served in many roles at CSISD and the surrounding districts prior to his tenure as superintendent, including assistant superintendent for CSISD and principal of China Spring High School.
Craig Sullivan has taught for 31 years and serves as a Construction Science Teacher at Belton High School in Belton ISD. He graduated from Belton High School and returned to teach there after pursuing his degree and teacher’s certification. His teaching focuses on training students to meet the labor skill gap by learning hands-on construction skills for projects in the school and around the community.
Sullivan believes “that hands-on learning and preparing students for work in the industry is vital to the construction trade, the community and our nation’s workforce."
Deborah DeGraff has taught for eight years and serves as the Science Lab Teacher at Bell’s Hill Elementary in Waco ISD. She chose to enter the teaching field after her husband’s career in the United States Air Force took her around the world while raising her three children. Her teaching style focuses on innovative, hands-on lessons to make science relevant and meaningful to her students.
She believes that “teaching all students at every grade level demands that every lab experience be adequately prepared, delivered and executed to create a lasting impression on each student.”
Killeen Board of Trustees
John Craft, Superintendent
Terry Delano, President
Corbett Lawler, Vice President
Minerva Trujillo, Secretary
Dr. Robin Battershell
Dr. Robin Battershell has served in Temple ISD since 2008. Under Battershell’s leadership, TISD established a unified vision of community support and credibility, and the district is on a path of focused and goal-oriented progress. She is an active member of various associations in her community including Texas Association of School Administrators, Texas Association of School Boards and Temple Chamber of Commerce. She has several degrees and certifications, including a Master of Science in Education Psychology from the University of Houston and a Ed.D. in Education Administration from Baylor University. She led Salado ISD as Superintendent from 1998 to 2008, and served in administrative positions in Killeen ISD.
Mrs. LaGay Pittenger
Mrs. LaGay Pittenger has been teaching at Lakewood Elementary in Belton ISD for 23 years and has more than 25 years of teaching experience. Ultimately, her goal is to instill a love of learning in her students. In her history classes, her students act out events, wear hats, sing songs, draw pictures and create maps to learn about the past. Pittenger is an active member of the Parent Teacher Association, a Belton Educational Enrichment Foundation donor and attends many district events, ranging from academics to fine arts and sports. For the last 10 years, her family has awarded a scholarship for a Belton High School graduate planning to attend Abilene Christian University.
Mr. Michael Chirhart
Mr. Michael Chirhart has been teaching for four years at Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro ISD. He teaches biology, anatomy and physiology and environmental science, as well as advanced placement courses. Chirhart’s teaching philosophy is to inspire his students with real-world applications for science that stimulate critical thinking. He incorporates a variety of teaching methods including carrying out investigations, collecting data and presenting findings with creative projects such as posters and multimedia presentations. Chirhart is a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Science Teachers Association of Texas and serves as a Cub Master for the Cub Scouts of America in West, Texas.
Waco ISD Board of Trustees
More than 1,000 students
Aquilla ISD Board of Trustees
Less than 1,000 students
2101 West Loop 340
Waco, TX 76712
Phone: (254) 297-1212
Main Fax: (254) 666-0823
Hours of Operation:
Monday - Thursday: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Friday - 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
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