(DESOTO, TX) — DeSoto ISD is pleased to announce its 2022 Teacher of the Year honorees! Representing all 10 campuses throughout the District, educators were selected by their schools for this annual and distinctive honor.
“These teachers were selected by their campuses, their peers,” DeSoto ISD Chief of Human Capital Management Dr. Violet Dean said. “They exemplify excellent teaching, their students and themselves; they give back to the community. There’s criteria set by the district, the campuses vote and they determine which one from the campus will become the campus Teacher of the Year.”
After being initially notified by Dr. Dean, each honoree was later recognized by a surprise Teacher of the Year Prize Patrol on their respective campuses. The caravan of district leaders flooded classrooms and offices with gifts, balloons, signs and cheer in celebration.
The DeSoto ISD 2022 campus Teacher of the Year honorees are:
Twynnette Anderson – Curtistene S. McCowan Middle School
An accomplished music educator who began her musical studies by playing the piano at age four, Anderson is the Assistant Band Director at McCowan Middle School. Anderson joined DeSoto ISD in 2018 after previously assisting the DeSoto High School band program, and serving as a band director, music instructor, choir director and music technology teacher in Georgia, Virginia, Dallas and Duncanville. She holds Bachelor’s of Arts degrees in both Music Management and African American Studies from Georgia State University and a Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership from North Central University.
Don Brookins – West Middle School
Military mindfulness and commitment to helping today’s youth are the cornerstone of DeSoto West Middle School JROTC Army instructor, Special First Class (SFC) Don Brookins. Having spent 26 years active duty in the United States Army prior to joining DeSoto ISD in 2009, SFC Brookins’ assignments have taken him to many places, including Germany, Romania and Canada. He is a lifetime member of the National Guard Association of Texas. In addition to receiving numerous military honors and commendations, SFC Brookins completed studies in Business Administration at Columbia College-Fort Worth. He retired from the U.S. Army as an E-7 SFC.
Jamee Cox – DeSoto Alternative Education Program
A career journalist before joining the education ranks, Jamee Cox brings keenness for understanding multiple sides of a story to students at the DeSoto Alternative Education Program (DAEP). Having joined the District nearly three years ago, after close to a decade of teaching, Cox prides herself in being an advocate for students that struggle a little more than most and require extra care and devotion. She leads the 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 Elementary School
Assisting Spanish-speaking families during a school enrollment event for her own child began Aracelis Cruz-Nevins’ education career. Jumping in where needed, she’s been learning and growing with DeSoto ISD for the past decade. As a first grade dual language teacher at Cockrell Hill Elementary School, Cruz-Nevins started at Frank D. Moates Elementary, crediting former principal Wesley Pittman with the opportunity to work as a bilingual kindergarten teacher. Her trajectory of impacting students has garnered Teacher of the Year nominations each year since her start in 2012. Cruz-Nevins holds 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 studies at Prairie View A&M University, and teaching in Hempstead, Texas, half of Grangers’ 16 years in education have been in DeSoto ISD. Joining the District in 2015, after a brief stint as a stay-at-home mom, her longing for the classroom brought her back, with her first stop at Northside Elementary. Granger has served on the campus of Frank D. Moates Elementary as well and takes pride in actively creating a legacy of lifelong learners.
Steven Harman – The Meadows Elementary School
With nearly three decades in education, and 15 years in 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 education, Harman worked in the defense industry in quality control/assurance management. His education experience began in Arlington ISD where he worked with students in at-risk populations. Harman has also led as a campus assistant principal and principal. Recognizing greater success with students, he returned to the classroom. While Harman presently teaches at The Meadows, he’s also served as an instructor at Ruby Young Elementary.
Edwaurdo King – Ruby Young Personalized STEAM Academy
Helping eagles take flight, Ruby Young Personalized STEAM Academy Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructor and Drone Director Edwaurdo King began his education career in 2019 at DeSoto East Middle School. A United States Navy veteran, King takes pride in instilling not only academic values in students, but life lessons as well. Serving as the District elementary and middle school department lead for CTE, King is an accomplished educator known for his classroom management and ability to show students there are different paths in life. King holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business Administration from Strayer University.
Jasmin Mallory – Woodridge Elementary School
In her fourth year as an educator, with all being in DeSoto ISD, Woodridge Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jasmin Mallory enjoys being a guide for her students. Not only does she get them started with academic fundamentals, she likes to see them develop social and conflict resolution skills they’ll need throughout their lives. Mallory joined the nest and soared as an Eagle prior to college graduation by completing student teaching at Cockrell Hill Elementary. Her professional start was at The Meadows Elementary before joining Woodridge in 2021. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Texas Tech University.
Jacqueline McKinley – Frank D. Moates Elementary School
Focused on early learners since high school, Frank D. Moates Elementary School math and science teacher Jacqueline McKinley remains on course. From Early Childhood Education classes at Barbara Jordan High School for Careers while working at a daycare in Houston, Texas; to majoring in Elementary Education at Sam Houston State University, she’s progressed since joining DeSoto ISD in 2003. As a department lead teacher, curriculum designer, professional learning community facilitator, staff professional development instructor and campus representative for several District committees, McKinley is a lifelong learner. She also holds a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Walden University.
Kenya Wilson-Brown – DeSoto High School
Emergent leaders are among us! Biology teacher Kenya Wilson-Brown has served five years at DeSoto High School, however she received a call that split her time. After the first three years, she stepped down during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to become a nationally certified emergency medical technician (EMT), servicing 911 and non-emergent calls. After one year as an EMT, she returned to DeSoto as the Biology team leader, Early College Biology 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 to recognize teachers means that we are focusing on the educational process at the foundational level,” DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees Secretary Abe Cooper, Jr. said. “Teachers are those persons that, day to day, operate with our children, interact with our children and build relationships that will last a lifetime.”