Taylor ISD recognized one employee from each campus, and one employee from each district level department, for distinguished service during the 2019 – 2020 school year. These individuals have gone above and beyond expectations to serve the district’s students, families and staff. Some of these recipients work directly with students in classrooms, while others serve a wider audience in the office, and others work to keep facilities safe and clean in order to provide the best learning environment possible.

Taylor High School – Barbara Johle

Barbara Johle just completed her 24th year with Taylor ISD and currently serves as secretary to the assistant principals at Taylor High School. She says the best part about her job is working with the students and her amazing coworkers.

THS principal, Andrew Maddox, shared a few of the reasons staff members nominated Johle for the award.

“She puts herself above and beyond for those at our campus,” Maddox commented. “Barbara cares for staff and students tremendously. She is the first many see as they start their day, and many are grateful for her willingness to help. She is active, busy, and just does not sit at her desk waiting for students and staff in need of assistance. Barbara has truly distinguished herself in an outstanding manner and has earned the utmost respect of staff and students.”

Legacy Early College High School – Veronica Ferguson

Veronica Ferguson is the school secretary at Legacy Early College High School. She enjoys getting to work with students, families and staff every day.

Principal, Ron Roth, describes Ferguson as the glue that holds the Legacy campus together.

“She is the front line of communication with students, staff and parents,” Roth said. “She has definitive answers for questions on all fronts. Her can-do attitude and willingness to accommodate people's needs are always in action. Ms. Ferguson has been a consistent contributor to the success of the Legacy campus, and she is loved and respected by all.”

Taylor Middle School – Jeanie Alderete

Jeanie Alderete serves in the role of receptionist at Taylor Middle School. Her friendly smile greets all visitors as they enter the building.

“Ms. Alderete is the welcoming smile of Taylor Middle School,” said TMS principal, Chelsey Ellison. “She works diligently to take care of our attendance and tardies as well as any tasks that are asked of her by teachers, administrators, parents and students. We are lucky to have Jeanie as part of our Taylor Middle School family and could not do this without her.”

Main Street Intermediate – Ash’Legh Harris

Ash’Leigh Harris has served as MSI’s registrar for the past two and a half years. She loves working alongside the MSI staff and giving back to the community.

"Ms. Harris is always willing to help in any way,” said MSI principal, Marcelina Cobb. “She is often seen encouraging others, working alongside our office team and supporting teachers, leaving such a positive influence on our MSI community.”

Naomi Pasemann Elementary – Charity Maldonado

Charity Maldonado just completed her first year as an instructional aide at NPE. She enjoys working with students and the welcoming, team building coworkers at her school.

“The best thing about my job is seeing the kids' faces light up during an awe-ha moment, or when they are excited to see you, or when they are having fun learning,” Maldonado said. “The unconditional love from the kids in any moment is the best!”

NPE principal, Renee Duckworth, said, “Ms. Maldonado is always kind and gives her all every single day. She provides hands on learning activities for students, is always willing to lend a hand, and is a true blessing to have in the classroom. Ms. Maldonado serves our community with a joyful heart and a contagious smile.”

TH Johnson – Maria Flores

Maria Flores has been with Taylor ISD for four years and currently serves as ECSE instructional aide.

“I am truly honored to work with such amazing staff and students at TH Johnson,” Flores said. “I love being able to help in any way I can, and to grow the bonds with students. It is amazing to hear your name in hallways, or a good morning hug can make your day a million times better.”

THJ principal, Jenni Cork, said, “Maria has always been flexible and willing to help out anywhere she is needed. She works very well with students who are struggling with behavior and learning how to control their emotions. She goes above and beyond to do what's best for kids. This year, she created additional lessons and activities for a student she worked closely with. Maria is a positive light at THJ.”

TISD Custodial Services – Elizabeth Ochoa

Elizabeth Ochoa has been with Taylor ISD for three years. She enjoys working with the teachers and staff and keeping the schools clean and safe.

“Ms. Ochoa is a true joy to work with,” said Lori Wilbanks, maintenance, custodial and grounds coordinator. “She loves her job and the students and staff of TH Johnson. She can be found cleaning the campus with a smile and usually a laugh or two. She is a friendly face that is always willing to lend a helping hand. During any emergency, she is willing to assist. During these last few weeks she has been a huge help not only at her campus, but also at The Boys & Girls Club of Taylor, ensuring the buildings are clean and healthy for the children and staff. She is a gem.”

TISD Maintenance Department – Jeff Ostendorf

Jeff Ostendorf has been with Taylor ISD for eight years and has 25 years of experience in the electrical field. He enjoys traveling from campus to campus, helping and working with all staff members.

“Mr. Ostendorf works hard and is willing to help anyone,” said Lori Wilbanks, maintenance, custodial and grounds coordinator. “He keeps the electrical systems at TISD running smoothly. He handles routing inspections on the Thorgard early warning lighting systems and keeps tabs on our Fire Safety systems at TISD. If you are looking for Jeff, you may want to look up as he is probably on a ladder or a lift way up in the air. Thank you Jeff for all of your hard work throughout the school years and especially during these last few weeks during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Taylor ISD Grounds – Saul Gutierrez

Saul Gutierrez has been with Taylor ISD grounds crew for two years and finds his work relaxing.

“I like making the campuses look good,” Gutierrez said. “I have a lot of pride in my work. Thank you, TISD, for this award.”

“Saul ‘Sonny’ Gutierrez can be seen on a lawn mower from sunup to sun down most days,” said Lori Wilbanks, maintenance, custodial and grounds coordinator. “Saul works hard and takes pride in a job well done. Over these last couple of years, he has worked on several projects around Taylor ISD performing tasks from landscaping, to fencing and light carpentry. And he loves to mow. He is a cut above.”

Transportation – Candice Miller

Candice Miller has been employed as a bus driver with Taylor ISD for three years. She enjoys driving the bus, but the best part of her job is the students.

“Ms. Miller stands out for going over and beyond as well as the extra mile regardless of the time of day,” said Carl Caldwell, transportation director. “She is always willing to put on a different hat and assist as needed.”

EWCC – Doug Austin

Doug Austin has been with Taylor ISD and the East Williamson County Coop for 16 years. “As a teacher and staff member with Taylor ISD, I have never thought or felt like I have a job,” Austin recalled. “For me as an educator, it has always been about the mission. That mission is my passion and my passion has been to help young Ducks be the best that they can be. My experience has been the ultimate experience. As an elementary Life Skills teacher, I was able to guide my young students in learning how to develop and access their skills. Then as a specialist and Special Olympics coach at EWCC, I was able to continue to interact with and contribute to guiding these same students throughout their TISD learning experience. Finally, as my last assignment, I was able to lead many of these same students into the beginnings of their adult life. So, it seems somewhat fitting that this year as I retire from Education, that two Ducks who were in my last elementary classroom will exit the TISD experience from my 18 plus classroom. I have been a part of their lives for 14 years and they, a part of mine. I only pray that I was up to the mission as it was presented to me and as I perceived it to be. Go Ducks! Live long and prosper.”

Robert Stevens, director of special education, said, “Mr. Austin has served our students in various instructional capacities, from life skills teacher, SAMA trainer, Assistive Technology to his last role as our 18 plus years Teacher/Vocational Coordinator. He recently submitted his resignation/retirement and will spend more time with his wife and family as he works on his garden. Doug will be greatly missed by all his friends and colleagues throughout the EWCC.”

Technology – Mario Barrera

Mario Barrera has been with Taylor ISD for seven and a half years, currently working as a network support specialist for the district.

“I love my job and the people I work with,” Barrera said. “Repairing computers has never been a job to me. It’s seeing the joy on kid’s and teacher’s faces afterward knowing their computer/device has been repaired. I am happy to be a part of Taylor ISD now and in the future.”

Jamie Sellers, director of technology, said, “Mario is known for his outstanding customer service, and his in-depth knowledge of computer repair. He is the kind of employee that you look forward to working with.”

Central Office – Carmen Lavalle

Carmen Lavalle has been with Taylor ISD since 2006 and currently serves as payroll specialist.

Lorine David, chief financial officer, said, “Carmen was nominated for the 2020 Distinguished Service Award because of her professionalism, work ethic and dedication. She is always willing to help out wherever she is needed, and her commitment to making sure all employees are paid correctly and on time is outstanding. She's even been known to take her computer on vacation to ensure the payroll is complete. She is truly a Taylor ISD asset.”

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