PHARR SAN JUAN ALAMO, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — Celena Miller, 5th grade science teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary in south Pharr, is a finalist for the H-E-B Excellence in Education Rising Star Award and was surprised this morning by H-E-B representatives with a $1,000 check for her and $1,000 for the school.
She will now compete among other statewide finalists for the state award and a $10,000 total prize, $5,000 for her and the rest for the school. The Rising Star Award honors exceptionally promising teachers with less than 10 years of experience. Miller is currently on her sixth year teaching and has been with the PSJA School District throughout her teaching career.
Aside from her teaching responsibilities, the University of Texas-Pan American graduate, also sponsors the school’s Robotics Club, Chess Club, Student Space Flight Community Program and is one of two District Lab Curriculum Writers. Her experience and dedication to her students and their development can easily be seen through her efforts to provide them with exceptional and unique experiences.
Thanks to Miller, Cesar Chavez Elementary has received the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program grant, an opportunity that provided her students to conduct real research mini-laboratories capable of supporting a single microgravity experiment. She guided her 4th and 5th grade students as they participated in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 4 to International Space Station (ISS) flight experiment design competition. After submitting over 60 team proposals for flight experiments, one by students Amanda Chavez and Brianna Azuara, was selected for flight aboard the ISS.
According to Miller, encouraging her students to participate in these types of programs empowers them to become real-life scientists. For her, her definition of success and her most cherished achievement is seeing her student’s faces light up with anticipation and enthusiasm when they are excited about learning.
“This is when I know learning is happening and I am on the right track,” Miller said. “I measure success by the smiles on their faces as they walk through my door.”
PSJA ISD congratulates Miller on this accomplishment and wishes her the best of luck at the state level.