Today@Sam Article

College Names 2016 Distinguished Educators

Feb. 25, 2016
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Nicole Mattingly contributed to this article. 

The Sam Houston State University College of Education will recognize six individuals who have made significant contributions to the field through their expertise and service on March 5 during the 2016 Distinguished Educators of the Year awards.

Wanda Bamberg, superintendent at Aldine ISD; Rebecca Riley, president of Lone Star College—Montgomery; Rick Kershner, assistant superintendent for academic services at Splendora ISD; Mary “Trish” Hanks, superintendent at Friendswood ISD; and Flip Flippen, chair of The Flippen Group will all be bestowed the college’s highest honor during the event, in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom.

Wanda Bamberg

Wanda BambergThroughout her 39 years as an educator, Wanda Bamberg has positively impacted future generations through her dedication to success in all aspects of the field.

Bamberg began her career as an English teacher within the Aldine school district and worked her way up through various director positions before becoming superintendent in 2007.

During her time at Aldine ISD, she has used her expertise in curriculum and instruction to provide numerous opportunities for the district’s 60,000-plus students, the majority of whom are economically disadvantaged, as well as its staff. 

Among these are Aldine ISD’s receiving the 2009 Broad Prize, a million-dollar award that recognizes large urban districts for improvement and achievement. 

Also under Bamberg’s leadership, many secondary students now receive scholarship funds and other resources to use toward a college education through the creation of the Aldine Education Foundation; partnering with the Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA, students also have access to organized sports and activities at their schools.

She also participates in such organizations as Bonding Against Adversity and Mission Greenspoint, which help families and children in the community with educational, financial, and other essential services.

She continues to work relentlessly on bettering Aldine though the 2015 Bond Referendum that will improve existing facilities, expand technology and open new campuses. 

Bamberg’s influence goes far beyond the district’s lines, as well; she frequently testifies in the Texas State Legislature on the impact different bills might have on programs and students, which benefits the educational environment across Texas. In addition, she enlightens many others through presentations on curriculum and leadership and by sharing the success story of Aldine ISD.

Colleagues praise Bamberg’s ability to lead a diverse urban district that places students as the priority, reaching them through innovative instructional programs and the creation of a true educational community.

Rebecca Riley

Rebecca RileyThroughout her 25 years in the education field, Rebecca Riley has established herself as a leader and a prominent member in her community.

Working her way through the Lone Star College System, she is now president of Lone Star College–Montgomery, where through her many partnerships in the community, she has maintained a reputation of excellence in promoting success for LSC-Montgomery’s students, faculty and programs.

Among her accomplishments, Riley played an essential role in creating three early college high schools in Splendora, Humble and New Caney ISDs, resulting in districts experiencing substantial increases in students who earn post-secondary credits and degrees.

She has reorganized existing divisions and begun new construction projects in an effort to provide accessible education and resources for students and faculty.

Riley has been described as a leader with outstanding collaboration skills, who is focused on her passion for education and active in the community.

As a member of the advisory board for Memorial Hermann The Woodlands and a member of the board of directors for Conroe Economic Development, The Woodlands Chamber of Commerce, and The Humble Area Assistance Ministries, Riley believes that “the very nature of our work is service to the greater good.”

She also has committed her efforts to improve quality higher education and the fine arts. With the collaboration of community involvement and educational leadership, Riley has secured grants for the arts and humanities department at Lone Star College–Kingwood, as well as donations for nursing students and equipment, to further departmental success.

Among her many accolades, Riley has received SHSU’s Jack Staggs Dissertation Award in 2008 and the Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished College Administrator Award in 2010.

Colleagues say her accomplishments and contributions are indicative of her dedication to supporting her community through service and leadership.

Rick Kershner

Rick KershnerRick Kershner is the epitome of a dedicated educator, whose commitment to education can be seen through his support of his students and staff at Splendora ISD, as well as to Sam Houston State University.

Kershner’s career has taken him through the roles of coach, teacher, principal, and, now, assistant superintendent for academic services, during which his reputation for making every individual feel important has spread from Sealy, Montgomery, Alief, Katy, Brookshire, and, most recently, to Splendora.

Living his personal motto—“If I can make the difference today in one child, I will feel like I’ve done my job”—Kershner is known for never failing to make time for students and for learning the names and stories of everyone he can.

This dedication led Kershner to begin a mentor program between Splendora High School teachers and students who needed guidance in academics or about life, in general.

Through his position as assistant superintendent, the staff is inspired to encourage students to reach their potential.

Since graduating from SHSU in 1984 with his Bachelor of Arts degree in teaching, Kershner also has not ceased to contribute his time and resources to SHSU’s College of Education as a member of the Educator Preparation Services Advisory Board, by preparing student-teachers for employment, and by hiring SHSU graduates for teaching positions. 

His students, athletes and colleagues have all described Kershner as a leader, mentor, friend, adviser, and, without exception, he is described as encouraging, compassionate, dedicated, and humble.  

Mary “Trish” Hanks

Trish Hanks

Trish Hanks personifies what it means to be a well-rounded educator.

Hanks attributes many of her successes to the leaders and mentors she was inspired by around campus while earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in teaching at Sam Houston State University.

She continues today to remember those great experiences in “returning the favor” by providing a quality educational experience for all of her students, faculty, and community at Friendswood ISD.  

Throughout her 14 years as superintendent at Friendswood ISD, Hanks has created an environment for excellence in academics, communication, fine arts, and character. 

She also has led Friendswood ISD in accomplishing great feats. 

Under her leadership, the district’s advanced placement and dual credit programs have grown exponentially, so that the majority of graduating students have some college credit hours or even an associate’s degree.

Communication between the staff, parents, and students is a high priority of hers, and the community plays an important role in students’ education.

Hanks also places a high importance on bringing in top-notch faculty who educate students by encouraging those students to discover their abilities and challenging them, rather than simply teaching facts and figures.

Friendswood ISD is known for academic achievement in the state, supported by several UIL championships, academic decathlon state championships, school academic honors, and successful fine arts programs. 

Hanks is known for transparently and whole-heartedly leading Friendswood by being active in the community, forming trusting bonds, supporting the educational needs of all, and building a strong foundation for learning. 

Faculty and staff expressed that they are well taken care of under Hanks, as well as through a health care partnership with University of Texas Medical Branch and a sensitivity to individual needs.

Flip Flippen

Flip FlippenThe College of Education’s “Friend of Education” began his career working with children from all walks of life and realized that in order to really help someone, he had to make a connection with them. 

With this ideology in mind, Flip Flippen created the Flippen Group—an organization dedicated to enlightening many on how to improve relationships, performance and leadership—and has been changing lives ever since.

Flippen’s innovative educational program “Capturing Kids Hearts,” utilized in thousands of schools and districts throughout the country, provides tools for positive interactions in the educational environment. Moving beyond curriculum, the program creates ownership for everyone in a school to be involved in advancing the overall educational experience by working to improve student behavior, motivation and empathy for an all-around benefitted classroom.

His book, “The Flip Side,” has been published in nine languages and is a New York Times best seller.

As Flippen’s company has flourished, it’s expanding its reach from corporate organizations to sports teams, government entities, and educational groups of all kinds. Though Flippen’s work involves a wide range of clientele, working with children is his true passion.

Not only has he dedicated his work to the education of students across the country, but he and his wife Susan have helped raise 20 children on their Texas ranch.

Countless success stories are shared from schools whose children come from a wide range of social situations that have used in “Capturing Kids Hearts,” which fosters relationships between teachers and students.

Those who have utilized the program say that while curriculum changes through the years, the relationships that teachers form with their students do not and that Flippen has embraced this idea and created a truly impactful philosophy for schools.

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