October Cougar Excellence Awards

Crosby, TX (October 18, 2022) - Each month, the Crosby ISD Board of Trustees recognizes students of the month, teachers of the month, paraprofessionals of the month, and community members of the month. Here are the recipients of the Cougar Excellence awards for October.


Alanah Matthys from Crosby Kindergarten Center. Alanah is a proud member of the Class of 2037. Principal Minor says Alanah is a ray of sunshine that shines bright at CKC. She is in Pre-K and is one of our smallest cougars with the biggest hearts. She is kind and determined. Alanah is resilient and can maneuver her way to overcome any obstacle set before her. She is also known to keep Ms. Eagleton in line at the Pre-K center and enjoys it when Mrs. Minor comes for a visit. Alanah is an inspiration to all that meet her!

Second grader Catalina Torres from Newport Elementary. Principal Price says Catalina is one of the sweetest students at NES. She can be seen spreading love and sunshine throughout the building. She is always happy, always wearing a smile, and always blowing kisses to no one in particular. Catalina is also a very hard worker; she truly gives her all every day, regardless of the task. In short, Catalina is delightful, and we are glad to have her at NES.

Fourth grader Barrett Elementary Layla Brown. Principal Ornelas says Layla is as close to perfection as any student could be. She is consistent in her effort and strives to do her best in everything she does. Layla is kind to others and is a leader among her peers. She maintains a positive attitude and demonstrates an eagerness to learn and grow, as well as help those around her. Her teachers share that Layla demonstrates brilliance inside and out! We are so proud of Layla! Way to go! 

Juzelda Escobar is a 5th grade student at Crosby Elementary and a new member of the CES Kindness Crew. She was nominated for the kindness crew by a peer in her grade level. Juzelda's teachers seconded her nomination and agree that she represents Roaring behavior in all settings.  She now hands out positive affirmations to other students on Hey! Day Wednesdays and shares her award-winning smile with everyone at CES. Principal Kratky-Fox says she is definitely a role model for her classmates. 

Fifth grader Emma Duda from Drew Elementary. Principal Tisdom says Emma has such a great attitude and heart and it shows around campus. Her classmates know she is a person they can count on and teachers know that she is a student who is positive, accountable, willing and safe.  Emma is part of our Drew National Honor Society and participates in our district’s two-way program. She is an outstanding student!

Landon McComb is a 6th grader at Crosby Middle School. Principal Sanchez says he is truly the definition of a leader. There is never a day he does not participate in class or offer help to his classmates. Landon treats his classmates and teachers with respect. He always has a smile when he enters the classroom. His kind and loving personality brings so much joy to everyone he meets. He strives to be the best he can be every single day. 

Senior Kiara Valenzuela from Crosby High School. Principal Davila says Kiara is kind and respectful, but also diligent and persistent.  She is a dual-credit cosmetology student, and she shows grace and kindness to everyone at Crosby High School.  Not only does she do a great job with her responsibilities, but she also works well with her classmates.  She comes to school every day well prepared, on time, and ready to learn.  In addition to her outstanding attributes, Kiara also makes all A’s and B’s and has great attendance!  We could not be prouder!  

Thank you to H-E-B for generously supporting these Cougar Excellence awards. Each student received a $25 gift card from H-E-B. We also thank the Crosby Chick-fil-A for donating gift baskets for each of our honorees this month.


From Crosby Kindergarten Center, Ms. Shannon Benjamin. Ms. Benjamin is one of our amazing rock star kindergarten teachers. She jumps in where she is needed, from afternoon duties to mentoring new teachers to being an excellent example of what it is to be a true leader for her pod. When you see Ms. Benjamin in the halls at CKC, her smile is guaranteed to lift you up no matter what kind of morning you just had. Principal Minor says she has a way of making a child's day magical and is a teacher they can't wait to see the next day. CKC is blessed to have one of the best in Crosby!

Ms. Denise Canneto from Newport Elementary. Principal Price says her classroom is uniquely calm and structured and nothing like she’s ever seen. Quote “She has a quiet excellence that demands attention. To this day, I'm not sure if I've ever heard her talk above a whisper, but the beauty is in the peace that emanates from her presence. She is consistently great, and our students are fortunate to experience math her way.” Congrats!

First grade teacher, Ms. Mellisa Owens from Barrett Elementary. Principal Ornelas says Ms. Owens is a caring teacher who truly knows how to build an environment where students are welcomed. Ms. Owens has also been a fearless leader among her fellow teachers. She provides guidance and support to her teammates, and is eager to support any campus initiative. She is reliable and always exhibits a calm presence in any situation. Thank you, Ms. Owens, for the work you put forward to have a positive impact on students and to build positive relationships with parents and teammates.  You are amazing! 

Mr. James Hamm from Crosby Elementary School. Principal Kratky-Fox says Mr. Hamm has a solution-oriented mind.  When he sees room for improvement, he comes to the administration team, or to his grade-level team, with ideas on how to tweak or make things better for the students.  Mr. Hamm will do anything for the best interest of his students.  He has a very calming personality and can tell the best "dad" jokes in town. Mr. Hamm is most deserving of this recognition tonight and that is not a joke.  Thank you Mr. Hamm for sharing your gift of teaching with our students at CES.  

Mr. Javier Velazquez from Drew Elementary. Mr. Velazquez is a dedicated teacher who expects his students to thrive and work together as a team to achieve their goals. If you walk around campus, you will find Mr. Velazquez working with small groups in the classroom or playing soccer with his students for recess. Mr. Velazquez’s motto for his students is “Work Hard and Play Hard.” Mr. Velazquez has received many recognitions in the past years for his student’s hard work in solving math problems. They’ve even reached 1 million! Principal Tisdom says Drew Elementary has been blessed that Mr. Velazquez is part of our team. 

Ms. Katelynn Hawkins from Crosby Middle School. She is a new teacher this year in the Special Education department. She is a hard worker and is fully dedicated to CMS. Ms. Hawkins always volunteers for additional campus duties and is willing to take on any task assigned.  She truly believes in getting in the trenches with the students. She works hard to close student gaps while meeting the students where they are. She goes the extra mile, making shirts for staff members to build camaraderie and support for whatever challenges lie ahead. Principal Sanchez says CMS is extremely happy to have Ms. Katelynn Hawkins on our team!

Ms. Katrina Newell from Crosby High School. Principal Davila says Ms. Newell is an outstanding educator with a positive mindset and wonderful attitude.  She comes to work each day with a smile on her face and is willing to help the school anyway she can.  There is not a student at Crosby High School who she cannot teach or get to understand a strategy or concept.  Her positive demeanor, knowledge of her content, and her willingness to go above and beyond is extraordinary!  We are grateful to have such an amazing leader in Crosby ISD. 


We also want to recognize another teacher who was just honored as one of the best in the state of Texas: Ms. Amanda Canada from Crosby Middle School. Ms. Canada was named the 2022 Outstanding Middle School Science Teacher of the Year by the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT). Ms. Canada exemplifies dedication to science education. She is a true gem at Crosby Middle School, having founded the CMS STEM Club. Ms. Canada has taught at Crosby ISD for the last 11 years. Ms. Canada will receive her award and recognition at the Science Teachers Association of Texas Conference in November in Dallas.


Our paraprofessionals, child nutrition services staff, bus drivers, custodians, grounds and maintenance teams work hard each day. This month, we want to honor a paraprofessional who is a wonderful asset to Barrett Elementary: Ms. Sandra Hernandez. Principal Ornelas says Ms. Hernandez always presents a professional image in our front office when working with visitors. She consistently displays a high degree of organization, especially during our verification and registration period. The start of our school year was smooth, thanks to her dedication to all her job responsibilities. We are so lucky to have Ms. Hernandez on our BES office team.


We also invited our Crosby High School Administration Team and our School Resource Officers to be recognized. Please come forward. We want to share some of the great work by the C-H-S admin team and our SRO’s. They are always on duty at extracurricular events. While our fans enjoy a great football game, they are working. A perfect example of that happened during the homecoming game on September 23rd. We want to give kudos to the administrators who spotted a teen acting suspiciously and the school resource officers who acted swiftly to ensure the teen was removed, and escorted off the property. We cannot say thank you enough to our teams who never forget our core mission of protecting and educating our students. Thank you.


Finally, the Board recognized our Community Members for October: the Crosby Fair and Rodeo Board. They are 21 volunteers who spend countless hours working all year long to put on a great show. The rodeo will be in its 77th year in 2023. Tonight, we want to salute the rodeo’s core mission – supporting and celebrating the students of Crosby ISD. Thank you to the Crosby Fair and Rodeo Board.