Heritage Elementary third-grade teacher Ms. Carol Calderon captured the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching; a first for the Southside ISD. The surprise announcement came during a digital presentation marking the end of Teacher Appreciation Week on Friday, May 8. Heritage Elementary principal Ms. Elise Puente called Ms. Calderon a model teacher. “It takes a special person to teach students that are two to three years below grade level. Most teachers cannot handle a classroom full of children with large achievement gaps. Ms. Calderon thrives in this setting. She has a way with kids that no one else has,” said Principal Puente.
Ms. Calderon won the achievement among the best teachers in 17 San Antonio-area school districts. Initially, she never planned to go into education until she began working with deaf, blind, and special needs children at a daycare when she was 19-years old. The little ones, unknowingly, changed her life. “Those kids were my kryptonite; my weakness,” Ms. Calderon wrote in her summary reviewed by the Trinity Prize Committee. “They were so strong and not a care in the world. They showed me the path that I was to take,” wrote Ms. Calderon.
Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Martinez, refer to Ms. Calderon as the “Teacher of the Century.” They say they’ll never forget how Ms. Calderon showed up late one night at the hospital to check on their daughter; who was one of her students. They say Ms. Calderon helped transform their daughter from a struggling student into a high-performing advanced placement student. “Ms. Calderon encouraged my youngest daughter, Nalon, and spent numerous hours after school tutoring her and other students. Today, Nalon is taking all pre-AP classes as a sixth-grader.
Former Southside ISD Teacher of the Year Claudia Wright calls her colleague a model leader. “I wouldn’t hesitate for one second to trust her to teach or care for one of my own children,” wrote Ms. Wright.
To celebrate her victory, Ms. Calderon showed up the following morning at the District’s Kym Rapier Food Pantry. She helped distribute enough food to feed about 5,000 people. As she loaded food into the trunks of cars, she kept on thinking of her father who passed away recently. “He always encouraged hard work,” she said. “Sometimes we are only one, but it only takes one to make a difference. He would say, be the one that makes the difference.”