H-E-B awards $585,000 in cash and grants in recognition of public education excellence

HOUSTON — H-E-B on May 6 recognized statewide winners of the 2012 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards during a banquet at Houston’s InterContinental Hotel, the grocer announced Tuesday. At the ceremony, H-E-B chairman and CEO Charles Butt handed out $585,000 in cash awards and grants and congratulated 23 educators, campuses, school districts and one early childhood agency for being "among the best" in Texas.

“H-E-B is committed to supporting K-12 public education, but we also know that the most critical years in a child’s learning development come before the age of five,” H-E-B VP communications and engagement Kate Rogers said.

Now in its 11th year, the program added a new Early Childhood Award to support public and private schools and not-for-profit learning agencies that focus on kinder readiness and the care of children under 5 years old. Last year, H-E-B introduced the Healthy Campus grants program to reward schools that go above and beyond to educate children, parents and staff members about the importance of nutrition and fitness.

The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards program was created in 2002 in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators as a positive way to support public education and celebrate the accomplishments of teachers, principals and school districts. Since its inception, the program has given away more than $5.5 million. The total awarded this year to semifinalists, finalists, prize winners and grant recipients will top $800,000, making it the largest monetary awards program in Texas and one of the largest in the nation, H-E-B reported.

In order to find the best teachers, principals and districts in Texas, H-E-B asked customers, employees and community members to submit the names of their favorite educators, administrators and districts. Each nominee is sent an invitation to complete an application online. They are asked to describe their professional experiences, educational philosophies and achievements both in and out of the classroom.

A team of judges reviewed the applications, narrowing the field to 239 semifinalists. From that pool, five regional judging panels comprised of former winners, administrators, and university and community leaders selected 40 teacher and principal finalists. Two separate panels selected the district and Early Childhood finalists, and conducted site visits to determine the winners. Healthy Campus grant recipients were selected by a panel of fitness and nutrition experts from across the state.

Upon being named finalists, teachers receive $1,000 for themselves and $1,000 for their school and principals received $1,000 for themselves and $2,500 for their school. Finalists in the large district and early childhood categories received $5,000 and small districts receive $2,500. Semifinalists received H-E-B gift cards ranging from $250 to $1,000.

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