(DESOTO, TX) – DeSoto ISD is pleased to announce its 2022 Teacher of the Year winners! Representing the 10 campuses in the district, the educators were selected by their schools for this annual and distinctive honor.
“These teachers were selected by their campuses, their peers,” said Dr. Violet Dean, DeSoto ISD’s chief human capital officer. “They exemplify the excellence of teaching, of their students and of themselves; they give back to the community. There are criteria established by the district, the campuses vote and they determine which of the campus will become the campus teacher of the year.
After being initially briefed by Dr. Dean, each winner was then recognized by a surprise Teacher of the Year award patrol on their respective campuses. The district leaders’ caravan flooded classrooms and offices with gifts, balloons, signs and cheers in celebration.
The 2022 DeSoto ISD Campus Teacher of the Year winners are:
Twynnette Anderson – Curtistene S. McCowan Middle School
An accomplished music educator who began her musical studies playing the piano at the age of four, Anderson is the assistant director of the orchestra at McCowan Middle School. Anderson joined DeSoto ISD in 2018 after helping the DeSoto High School band program and serving as band director, music teacher, choir director, and music technology teacher in Georgia, Virginia, Dallas, and Duncanville. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Management and African American Studies from Georgia State University and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from North Central University.
Don Brookins – Western Middle School
Military mindfulness and a commitment to helping today’s youth is a cornerstone of DeSoto West Middle School’s Army JROTC Instructor, Special First Class (SFC) Don Brookins. After spending 26 years on active duty in the US Army before joining DeSoto ISD in 2009, SFC Brookins’ postings have taken him to many places including Germany, Romania and Canada. He is a life member of the National Guard Association of Texas. In addition to receiving numerous military honors and distinctions, SFC Brookins completed studies in business administration at Columbia College-Fort Worth. He retired from the United States Army as SFC E-7.
Jamee Cox – DeSoto Alternative Education Program
A career journalist before joining the ranks of education, Jamee Cox brings the concern of understanding the many facets of a story to students of the DeSoto Alternative Education Program (DAEP). Having joined the district nearly three years ago after nearly a decade of teaching, Cox prides herself on being an advocate for students who struggle a little more than most and require extra care and dedication. She leads campus social and emotional efforts, providing the DAEP team with policies and procedures to ensure safe and productive learning environments for students. Cox holds degrees in journalism and technical and professional writing.
Aracelis Cruz-Nevins – Cockrell Hill Primary School
Helping Spanish-speaking families with a school enrollment event for her own child started Aracelis Cruz-Nevins’ educational career. Jumping where needed, she has learned and grown with DeSoto ISD over the past decade. As a first-grade bilingual teacher at Cockrell Hill Elementary School, Cruz-Nevins started at Frank D. Moates Elementary School, crediting former principal Wesley Pittman with the opportunity to work as a bilingual kindergarten teacher . Her influential student trajectory has earned her Teacher of the Year nominations every year since her debut in 2012. Cruz-Nevins has a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from the University of Puerto Rico.
Katrina Granger – Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy
For Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy K-5 Master Teacher Katrina Granger, the DeSoto community has always reminded her of home. From Waco to studying at Prairie View A&M University, and teaching in Hempstead, Texas, half of Grangers’ 16 years of schooling were at DeSoto ISD. Joining the district in 2015, after a brief stint as a stay-at-home mom, her desire to go to school brought her back, with her first stop at Northside Elementary. Granger also served on the campus of Frank D. Moates Elementary and takes pride in actively creating a legacy of lifelong learners.
Steven Harman – Meadows Elementary School
With nearly three decades in education and 15 years at DeSoto ISD, fourth-grade math and science instructor Steven Harman makes children a priority for their future success in our communities and abroad. Prior to his studies, Harman worked in the defense industry in quality control and quality assurance management. His educational experience began at Arlington ISD where he worked with students from at-risk populations. Harman has also directed as vice principal and campus director. Recognizing greater success with the students, he returned to the classroom. While Harman currently teaches at The Meadows, he was also an instructor at Ruby Young Elementary.
Edwaurdo King – Ruby Young Custom STEAM Academy
Helping eagles soar, Ruby Young’s Custom STEAM Academy Career and Technical Education (CTE) Instructor and Drone Director Edwaurdo King began his teaching career in 2019 at DeSoto East Middleschool. A veteran of the United States Navy, King prides himself on instilling not only academic values in students, but also life lessons. As head of the district’s elementary and middle school department for the CTE, King is an accomplished educator known for his classroom management and ability to show students that there are different paths in life. King holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Strayer University.
Jasmin Mallory – Woodridge Elementary School
In her fourth year as an educator, all being at DeSoto ISD, Jasmin Mallory, a kindergarten teacher at Woodridge Elementary School, enjoys being a guide for her students. Not only does she introduce them to academic fundamentals, but she enjoys seeing them develop social and conflict resolution skills that they will need throughout their lives. Mallory joined the nest and soared like an eagle ahead of college graduation completing student education at Cockrell Hill Elementary School. She got her professional start at The Meadows Elementary before joining Woodridge in 2021. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education from Texas Tech University.
Jacqueline McKinley – Frank D. Moates Elementary School
Focused on young learners since high school, Jacqueline McKinley, math and science teacher at Frank D. Moates Elementary School, stays the course. Early Childhood Education classes at Barbara Jordan High School for Careers while working at a daycare center in Houston, Texas; to major in Elementary Education at Sam Houston State University, she has progressed since joining DeSoto ISD in 2003. As the department’s lead teacher, curriculum designer, professional learning community facilitator, instructor staff professional development and campus representative for several district committees, McKinley is a learner. She also holds a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration from Walden University.
Kenya Wilson-Brown – DeSoto High School
Emerging leaders are among us! Kenya Wilson-Brown, a biology teacher, spent five years at DeSoto High School, but got a call that split her time. After the first three years, she quit at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to become a nationally certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), responding to 911 and non-emergency calls. After a year as an EMT, she returned to DeSoto as a biology team leader, early middle school biology teacher, and AP biology teacher. Wilson-Brown received her undergraduate degree in biology from Missouri Southern State University and will receive her master’s degree in educational leadership in July.
“For us, recognizing teachers means we focus on the educational process at the fundamental level,” said Abe Cooper, Jr., secretary of the DeSoto ISD board of directors. “Teachers are those people who, on a day-to-day basis, operate with our children, interact with our children, and build relationships that will last a lifetime.”