Clark High School Principal Jerry Woods prepared all week for a film crew he was told would visit his campus on Thursday. He planned meticulously, thinking he would be filmed giving a school tour and hosting a Q&A panel with Northside Independent School District’s superintendent.

Just as Woods began introducing the panel in the school library, the principal learned it was all a ruse. H-E-B officials interrupted the principal to let him know he was one of five high school principal finalists statewide chosen for the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards, sometimes referred to as the Oscars of Texas education.

Each year, educators are selected as finalists based on their leadership in the classroom and on campus. They are surprised on campus with a personal check and money for their school. Six awards go to teachers and two to principals. Winners, who are announced at a May ceremony in San Antonio, receive a cash prize and additional money for their schools.

School districts, boards, and early childhood education facilities can also win a prize. The Brighton Center’s Kindergarten Readiness Preschool was nominated as one of the state’s best early childhood education facilities.

On Thursday morning, Woods was seemingly stunned, saying he was in “a bit of shock” after the announcement.

“It means a lot, but it is still sinking in,” Woods said. “[The award] represents great students and great teachers and the great things that are happening [here.] It is just an unbelievable experience and an unbelievable honor to be part of that.”

The Clark principal has led the campus for eight years and previously served as a vice principal in Northside ISD and an assistant principal in North East ISD.

In addition to Woods, H-E-B selected seven other San Antonio nominees this week, including:

  • Teacher Priscilla Prather from Folks Middle School
  • Teacher Carl Dickerson from Sky Harbour Elementary School
  • Teacher Gerardo Villegas Juarez from Charles Graebner Elementary
  • Teacher B. Patrice Bartlett from Alamo Heights High School
  • Teacher Dottie Griffith from Harris Middle School
  • Teacher Raquel Cataldo from Helotes Elementary School
  • Principal De’Ann Upright from McAndrew Elementary School

In 2019, two San Antonio teachers won H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards.

Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the Rivard Report.