Andrea Greimel, a bilingual early childhood teacher at Carvajal Early Childhood Education Center, has been awarded the 2019 Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching during a ceremony on March 22, 2019, on the Trinity University campus.

Greimel, and Fort Sam Houston ISD’s Katie Michna, were selected from a pool of 19 distinguished educators who were nominated by area school districts. The prize, which comes with a $2,500 cash prize and a crystal apple, honors motivated and dedicated educators in the San Antonio region.

“When they announced my name I felt so very thankful for all of the wonderfully supportive and talented colleagues I have done this work with over the last 30 years, actually, 34 years counting my experience in schools in Mexico,” said Greimel. “I have been so fortunate to work with para-professionals, teachers, and administrators who have deep knowledge about and dedication to both bilingual/bicultural and early childhood education. These are two areas of critical need in San Antonio schools. In selecting me for this award, I felt that Trinity was shining a light on this and on all those who have focused their talents on our youngest learners and our English Language Learners with heart and mind.”

According to the Trinity University website, the Trinity Prize is greater San Antonio area’s oldest and most prestigious teaching award, and was launched in 1982 to honor public school teachers who distinguish their teaching practice through outstanding classroom performance, leadership in the school and school district, contributions to the education profession, and stellar community service.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with her undergraduate degree, Greimel spent the next four years teaching in Mexico before returning to the United States to pursue her graduate education. Greimel graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with her M.A. in Bilingual-Bicultural Education in 1998 and began her bilingual PreK teaching career in Edgewood ISD before coming to SAISD in 2002.

“Andrea is the most passionate, dedicated, loving, and devoted teacher I have ever met in my 32 years in education,” said Sonya Cardenas, principal of Carvajal. “She is my right hand.”

In her classroom, Greimel provides contextualized, hands-on learning opportunities for both language and cognitive development so that she can help her students’ progress in both of their languages.

“In order to successfully plan for instruction and engage all learners in meaningful learning, I have to become a learner of learners,” said Greimel in her Trinity Award application packet. “This means that I have grown keen eyes, ears, and memories to take notice of each child. I cannot focus solely on test data. This is particularly true in early childhood. I observe how my students move, how they talk, how they listen, who they talk to and listen to, what they talk about, who they choose to play with, what their play is about, what problems they seek to explore and solve, what they are interested in, the state of their health and nutrition, what makes them cry or laugh, what scares or delights them, what they are good at, what they struggle with, and how they make friends and treat others. In short, I try to notice The Whole Child. I cannot instill a joy of learning in a child unless I know what makes that precious child tick.”

A panel of San Antonio business and community leaders selected the winners and included Kimberly Anderson, first lady of Trinity University; Alice Gannon, former USAA senior executive and Trinity alumna; Robert Rivard, co-founder and publisher of the nonprofit The Rivard Report; Khaniya Russell, the outstanding senior in education; and Tina Torres, attorney and former judge.

“What I love about Andrea is that she is passionate about her children,” said Pedro Martinez, superintendent. “She has great expectations for her students and has been embraced by the community and the families. We couldn’t be more proud.”

Also during the March 22 ceremony, the 2018 National Teacher of the Year, Mandy Manning, spoke to the honorees and guests. Manning is an English teacher at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., where she works with newly arrived refugee and immigrant students.