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Petri, Wonders named 2019 Teachers of the Year

Teacher of the Year

       Pearland Independent School District teachers Julie Petri and Caren Wonders strive to make a positive impact in students’ lives when they walk into their classrooms each day.  

       Thanks to their dedication to students, Rustic Oak Elementary’s Petri and Turner College & Career High School’s Wonders are the Pearland ISD 2019 Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year.

       Elementary Winner: Julie Petri

       Julie Petri has spent the last thirty six years in education, twenty six of those dedicated to teaching Kindergarten all subject areas at Rustic Oak Elementary School.

       Petri attributes her success as an educator to surrounding herself with great teachers, dedicated administrators and devoted parents, and to creating an educational community that is proud to say “I am Pearland!”

       The positive influence of Petri’s third grade teacher along with her own passion for making a lifelong impression on her students keep her motivated.

       “I love teaching because of the children and the parents that I get to work with every year.  The kids come to me with open arms and open hearts and I am ready to fill that space! My children come ready and willing to learn new things and I am ready to fulfill their thirst for knowledge,” Petri said.

       Petri is a servant leader who puts the needs of the students first.

       “I love to learn just like my students do,” Petri said. “I have great coworkers that inspire me every day to become a better teacher. We are committed to creating a positive community for our students and parents. We stand together in solving the challenges of the educational world and that is incredibly motivating.”

       Petri holds a master’s degree in educational management with a principal certificate from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Quincy University.

       Secondary Winner: Caren Wonders

       Caren Wonders is a Health Science Technology (HST) teacher at Robert Turner College and Career High School and works with students who wish to pursue a career in the medical field.  Wonders believes in exposing her students, our future medical professionals, to the many facets of the healthcare process.

       In her five years at TCCHS from a total of 18 in education, she has played a significant role in the growth of the HST program into a successful pathway, which offers multiple certification options and career opportunities for its students. Witnessing her students receive new opportunities is what keeps Wonders motivated.

       “Anytime I can secure a tour, a guest speaker or any other new professional experience, I know I am giving my students opportunities for new ideas, opinions, hopes and dreams,” Wonders said. “It only takes one experience to inspire a student to try something new, or to see themselves in a new light. When my students come back after graduating, I enjoy their stories of triumphant and failures.”

       Wonders decision to become a teacher was driven by two main reasons.

       “In medicine, you are constantly teaching patients how to take better care of themselves.  I went into teaching hoping to teach the next generation of medical professionals about all the different avenues of medicine, but also how to be an informed and compliant patient. I want my students to understand about their personal care as well as that of their families. An informed patient can be a healthier patient,” Wonders said.

       Wonders holds a bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis in kinesiology from Lamar University and is a licensed athletic trainer and a national certified insurance coding specialist.

       About the Teacher of the Year Award

       Each year, Pearland ISD schools select a campus nominee for the district award. A panel of judges then selects an elementary and secondary winner to advance in the Texas Teacher of the Year competition.

       Petri and Wonders were announced as the district winners during the annual service awards celebration in May.