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Class of 2018: Teachers Who Made a Difference

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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Lindsey Ho, Franco Posa

Lindsey Ho, a graduate of St. John’s School, says Mr. Franco Posa, the 11th and 12th grade Physics teacher at SJS, inspired her to never give up and encouraged her to pursue engineering. Here Lindsey is pictured with Mr. Posa on the school’s annual college t-shirt day.

The Class of 2018 have walked across the stage and will soon head to college. Many years from now, these students may not be able to recall a math equation or historical date, but they will always remember teachers that inspired them and helped them grow.

As part of a survey to gather information for our annual “Where are they headed” article featuring high school graduates and where they’re heading to college, we included the question: Teacher who changed your life and why. Once again, the students’ responses were so heartwarming but too long to include in our print article. So we’ve gathered them all here for you.

Congratulations, Class of 2018, and thank you to the teachers who helped along the way. To see where these high school grads are heading, check out the article. Also, find out where more local grads are heading - and contribute to, if you haven’t yet – our annual database of college-bound Buzz-area seniors

Avery Agosto – Wilchester Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

Avery Agosto is off to University of California, Los Angeles to study biochemistry. She says: “Ryan Cozad in 10th grade Algebra 2, at Stratford High School. I’ve never had a teacher who cares more about their students. Not only in the classroom, but also everything else going on in our lives.”

Isabella Altman - River Oaks Elementary, Pin Oak Middle School, Incarnate Word Academy 

Isabella Altman is heading to College of the Holy Cross to study psychology. She says: “Although there were many teachers in my life that changed my overall perception of the world and taught me meaningful lessons that I will never forget, Mr. Mark Richardson is by far the greatest. Mr. Richardson was my sophomore World History teacher and senior Honors Economics/AP Government teacher at Incarnate Word Academy. He has taught me not only all I need to know about AP Government & Politics, Economics, and World History but the important life lessons that I should remember like ‘preparation is key,’ ‘work your hardest’ or his most famous and most sarcastic one yet ‘marry rich.’ These lessons are only the beginning of how Mr. Richardson changed my life. His dedication, hard work, and continuation of his caring heart to his students pushed me to serve others and become a leader in my community. After I joined Junior State of America (JSA), a student-run organization that engages students to participate in politics, in freshman year, he has been my influence to become a leader in JSA and strive for change. As a result, three years later after his enlightening lectures and lessons, I became Incarnate Word Academy JSA co-chapter president my senior year. I organized meetings, argued in debates, and led my chapter to engage in local conventions. Because of him, I thrived in JSA. From my constant participation in JSA, Mr. Richardson has motivated me to flourish in other important leadership positions like Student Council, Sisters of Sisterhood, Leading Ladies, and Falcon Ambassador. In conclusion, Mr. Richardson is an incredible teacher that I could wish everyone to learn from and a mentor that changed my life.”

Tomás Amelio – Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School, St. Thomas High School

Tomás Amelio is off to University of Arkansas to study history. He says: “Mr. John Lewis, St. Thomas High School junior, Latin. We connected on a level that kept me engaged in an ancient skill.”

Molly Anapolsky – Mark Twain Elementary School/Potomac Elementary School, Hoover Middle School, Bellaire High School

Molly Anapolsky is headed to Tulane University to study neuroscience.  She says: “A teacher who changed my life was my 11th grade English teacher, Dr. Jeff Waller. He exposed us to lots of different types of literature and invited us to discuss the ideas, rather than have a set lesson plan. He taught us how to be good students along with being good English students.

Jordan Barger – Incarnate Word Academy, The Post Oak School, Post Oak High School

Jordan Barger is heading to University of California, Los Angeles to study film and television. She says: “Mr. Charles Ziegler changed my life because of who he was. He recently passed away in January but his legacy lives on at Post Oak. I had him for my junior year and half of my senior year, but he certainly changed my life in that year and a half. He believed in me no matter what and he made everyone feel like they could do physics even though it is a very difficult subject. Rest in peace, Chuck Z.”

Clayton Bobo - Rummel Creek Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

Clayton Bobo is heading to Texas A&M University to study finance in Mays Business School. He says: “Mrs. Mary Jackson, the accounting teacher for juniors and seniors at Stratford High School, helped me in deciding what I wanted to do in college. She is always there to listen and encourage you in a positive way and always has a smile on her face.”   

Brooks Brickley – Saint Thomas’ Episcopal, St. Thomas High School

Brooks Brickley is off to Texas A&M University to study petroleum engineering. He says: “I learned to love math in Ms. Joan McNatt's class. I had her my junior and senior year at STH. She encouraged me to think bigger and try for more advanced math. It was in her class that I first realized that I had an aptitude for it, which led to my interest in engineering.”

Cadesman Brickley – Saint Thomas’ Episcopal, St. Thomas High School

Cadesman Brickley is heading to Oklahoma State University to study business administration. He says: “My favorite teacher was Coach Andrew Quittenton for English 2. He's Canadian and I liked to listen to him talk with his funny accent. It was a great class and I learned how to analyze literature, which is a useful skill for high school and college.”

Camille Calabrese – River Oaks Elementary, Lanier Middle School, Lamar High School

Camille Calabrese is heading to Tufts University. She says: “My fourth grade teacher (for all core subjects) at River Oaks elementary, Ms. Mary Waugh, gave me a great and life-changing year. Despite our young age, she took all of our ideas and concerns seriously and maintained an adult-like level of mutual respect with her students. This elevated my self-confidence in the classroom because I never feared that speaking up might lead to me being embarrassed in front of my classmates or treated like a little kid. She also taught me by example that respect comes not from age, experience, or authority, but from the mindset that everybody's views and thoughts are important. To me, this viewpoint is the most powerful tool any teacher could have in the classroom.”

Colin Clark – Brill Elementary, home schooled, The Briarwood School

Colin Clark will be heading to Tomball Sports Center to study fitness/health and theatre arts. He says: “The teacher that changed my life was Scott Finger. He teaches here at the Briarwood School and I’ve had him since I was a sophomore. He has taught me a lot inside of the class room and outside of the classroom. I’ll never forget his valuable life lessons. For they will always bear as a reminder to me to always strive for perfection and never ever give up in life!”

Spencer Dearborn – West University Elementary School, Presbyterian School, Episcopal High School

Spencer Dearborn is heading to The University of Chicago to study economics. He says: “John Reimers, Sophomore English at Woodberry Forest {located in Woodberry Forest, Virginia}. I learned from him how to laugh off a failing grade on an essay.”

Madeline DeJong – Second Baptist School

Madeline DeJong is off to New York University to study fashion design and entrepreneurship. She says: “Right before the start of first grade, I moved from London, England. My teacher that year, at Second Baptist, Mrs. Evette Haberman made the hard move a little easier on me by helping me transition to the American way of learning.”

Jordan Doughtie – Second Baptist School

Jordan Doughtie is heading to University of Oklahoma to study pre-occupational therapy. She says: “A teacher that has really impacted my life is my 11th grade Precalculus teacher, Coach Mike Holmquist. Coach Holmquist taught me that who you are as a person matters more than anything you’ll learn in school. He inspired me to discover my strengths and to try to use them to impact other people.”

Jared Edelman – Condit Elementary School, The Kinkaid School 

Jared Edelman is heading to Tulane University to study business management. He says: “A teacher that has inspired me the most has to be Dr. Ed Harris at Kinkaid. Taking his class senior year has been a joy. Dr. Harris is a true professional with unparalleled experience in the Corporate Business world. Dr. Harris’ achievements and life journey is inspiring. He is someone I yearn to resemble and his knowledge of business, law, and economics is unmatched. I hope to learn the tricks of the trade and be an expert on the ins and outs of the corporate world just like Dr. Harris. I will always cherish this opportunity.”

Molly Erfert – Homeschooled, Haddonfield Memorial Middle School (New Jersey), Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart

Molly Erfert is headed to Oklahoma State University to study business. She says: “Mr. Michael Horne, junior year U.S. History. He incorporated music, stories and life lessons into every lecture and he made learning really enjoyable. Before every test he would tell us: ‘Remember kids, your grade does not reflect who you are - it is only a number.’ He also taught us that failing and messing up is just a part of life . . . everyone has to go through it to get better, and this made a lot of us become more comfortable with failure.”

Kyle Goodson – Wilchester Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

Kyle Goodson is heading to University of Virginia to study biomedical engineering. He says: “Mr. Karl Poetzl (SHS, AP Statistics, 10th grade) changed my life through his kindness, knowledge, and his constant ability to light up a classroom.”

Bayle Goldman - Nottingham Elementary, Spring Forest Middle School, Stratford High School

Bayle Goldman will be taking a gap year studying and volunteering in Israel, then attending the University of Missouri or University of Texas at Austin. She says: “My sixth grade Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Sharon Sharadin, furthered my love of reading and encouraged me as a writer. She was always happy to read my latest poem or just talk with me about life. I'll never forget her.”

Jillian Greenberg – The Shlenker School, The Emery/Weiner School 

Jillian Greenberg is off to Trinity University to study political science. She says: “Mr. Aaron Markham: Government teacher, senior year. He helped me realize that I would be interested in becoming a lawyer or judge.”

Megan Hafer – Condit Elementary School/School of the Woods, School of the Woods, Bellaire High School 

Megan Hafer is headed to Texas A&M University to study marketing in Mays Business School. She says: “A teacher that changed my life was Ms. Tania Andrews at Bellaire High School. She taught me Digital Media my sophomore year and Web Design my senior year. I have never been so close to a teacher. She always has a positive attitude and says nothing but encouraging things, not only to me but to every student. She keeps the class exciting, and I always look forward to going to her class. She doesn’t just teach us about things on Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, but she teaches us life lessons. She keeps us updated on what’s going on in the news and helps guide us towards making decisions for ourselves. When I am going through a rough time, I know I can always talk to her and she will help me through it. And to make me feel even better, she will turn on some Beyoncé and we will have a little dance session to get my mind off of whatever I am going through.”

Abby Haralson – Rummel Creek Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

Abby Haralson is heading to Chapman University to study screen acting and theater performance. She says: “Mrs. Maria Menes, my sophomore English teacher at Stratford High School. She introduced me to several amazing authors and novels. She helped fuel my interest in writing and storytelling and even helped my immense passion for reading grow. She pushed us all to be the best students we could be and made sure we were on the right path to reach our full potential. She truly helped me ignite my passion for storytelling, and I am forever thankful.”

Lauren Herrera - Our Savior Lutheran, Lutheran High North  

Lauren Herrera is off to Texas Tech University to study biochemistry. She says: “My dual credit History and Government teacher Dr. Allison Robinson during my junior and senior year. She is one of the first teachers who genuinely showed interest in every single one of her student's well-beings, she taught us how to work hard, and even helped us with college prep. I have never really enjoyed history, but she made me look forward to it. Dr. Robinson taught me how to be a strong woman and is someone I will look up to my whole life.”

Lindsey Ho – T.H. Rogers School, St. John’s School

Lindsey Ho is heading to Case Western Reserve University where she will major in civil engineering and minor in dance. She says: “Mr. Franco Posa, 11th & 12th grade Physics teacher at St. John's School, inspired me to never give up and to be brave and try new things. He is one my favorite teachers because he genuinely wants to get to know his students, finds creative ways to teach information to his students, and inspires students to apply what they learned in the classroom to real life. Mr. Posa encouraged me to pursue engineering, a study in which I plan to explore in college. Not only is he fabulous in the classroom, but Mr. Posa takes interest in what his students are passionate about. Mr. Posa actively seeks out student events that his students participate in, such as the school musical, athletic events, and dance shows. I enjoyed working beside him in our hard hats at the Habitat for Humanity community service project and loved that he encouraged students in my physics class to do community service with him on a Saturday.” 

Emma Holland, Mary Jackson

Emma Holland, a graduate of Stratford High School, says Mrs. Mary Jackson is a big part of the reason she chose to pursue business during college. 

Emma Holland - Rummel Creek Elementary, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

Emma Holland is joining the Business Honors Program at The University of Texas at Austin. She says: “During my time at Stratford High School, I have been privileged to have Mrs. Mary Jackson both my junior and senior years for Accounting I and II and as my Student Council advisor. Mrs. Jackson is a big reason why I am continuing to study business in college, as she showed me the fun and excitement behind accounting and other business concepts. She also encourages my ideas for Student Council and inspires me to pursue my passions in the future.”

Cole Johnson – The Briarwood School

Cole Johnson is off to Navarro College to study business. He says: “Ms. Boyce, Ms. Smith, Ms. Sarver, Coach Gore, Ms. Anderson, Dr. T., Ms. Ruiz, Ed and Scott Finger. All of these teachers have helped me during various situations throughout my life, but they are also some of my role models. They have the best work ethic. I have ever seen anyone in my life have but more importantly they took me in and showed me to be myself.”

Eligha Jones – The Rice School, Lamar High School 

Eligha Jones is headed to Grambling State University to study either music or biology. He says: “Mr. Tyrone Chambers at Lamar has changed my life the most because he was firm and always honest.”

Jared Jong – Horn Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Bellaire High School

Jared Jong is off to The University of Texas at Austin to study economics. He says: “My kindergarten teacher, Ms. Evelyn Gates, was a great influence in my life. She taught me to always be a loving and caring person.”

Nathan Lederman – Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery/Weiner School

Nathan Lederman is off to study journalism and film at Boston University. He says: “A teacher who genuinely changed my life was my junior and senior year Journalism teacher, Ms. Jennifer Williams. Her passion for journalism and her faith in my abilities as a reporter have played a large role in my interest in journalism as a major and possible career.”

Jian Liang – Saint Thomas' Episcopal School

Jian Liang is heading to Rice University. She says: “Mr. David Graves. He was my yearbook adviser throughout all of high school at St. Thomas' Episcopal School. He taught me how to handle harsh criticism, how to tell people's stories and how to lead a staff.”

Emily Ligon – First Baptist Academy, Houston Christian High School

Emily Ligon is headed to University of Georgia to study marketing. She says: “My sixth grade Social Studies teacher from First Baptist, Ms. Katelyn Fuller, changed my life because she taught me how to stop concerning myself with other people’s opinions. As an incredible and innovative teacher, she showed me that not everyone is going to like who you are, what you do, what you wear or what you say, but it is only important that you like it. Ultimately, being true to who you are leads to personal joy and possibly even the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Oprah Winfrey.”

Alex Liu – The Village School

Alex Liu is off to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study. He says: “Dr. Meg Hennessy (The Village School, 10th-12th grade, Chemistry). She helped me in my pursuits in chemistry and helped me fall in love with the subject. She has also been an amazing person who was always there for me whenever I needed anything.”

Garrett Logan - Memorial Drive Elementary, Second Baptist School

Garrett Logan is heading to University of St Andrews to study international relations and Russian. He says: “My 12th grade AP English teacher Mrs. Nancy Wahl at Second Baptist School changed my life by reestablishing my love of reading. I used to greatly enjoy reading when I was younger, but I lost that passion over time. Mrs. Wahl helped me to rediscover and gain enjoyment from this activity.”

Mackenzie McAnear – Birkes Elementary School, The Briarwood School

Mackenzie McAnear is off to Lone Star College and intends to pursue a career related to writing. She says: “Ms. Wood (well, now Mrs. Sandy Bairfield) who taught me English my seventh-grade year at Briarwood. She showed me that I had a raw talent for writing and helped me hone my skills as I grew up. I miss her every day and try to text her on a regular basis.”

Jack McInnis - Presbyterian School, Strake Jesuit

Jack McInnis is off to University of Mississippi to study accounting. He says: “Mr. Glynn, my Algebra II teacher at Strake Jesuit. As a recent college graduate who returned to teach at his high school alma mater, Mr. Glynn made learning fun and inspired me to be a better student.”

Joseph McManners – St. Mark Lutheran, Lutheran High North

Joseph McManners is headed to Texas State University to study athletic training. He said: “Rylan Foster, my Science teacher at St. Mark Lutheran School, led me closer to God by teaching me respect and leadership throughout all that I do.”

Nicki Miller - Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery Weiner School

Nicki Miller is headed to The University of Texas at Austin this fall. She says: “A teacher that changed my life is my 7th grade History teacher at The Emery/Weiner school named Ms. Lea Kamenstein. She was not only an incredible teacher but also a personal mentor.”

Tara Nored – Woodridge Elementary School (San Antonio), Second Baptist School

Tara Nored is off to Tulane University to study English. She says: “Ms. Allison Armond, my Math teacher for the past three years (sophomore, junior, and senior) at Second Baptist School. She cares about me in and outside of the classroom. She invested time, energy, and effort into helping me understand the subject, and served as a great role model.”

Rachel Patronella - St. Michael Catholic School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

Rachel Patronella is heading to University of Mississippi and will major in special education. She says: “Mr. Nathan Mesler, a Science teacher at Stratford High School, influenced me the most because he told me to work hard on my studies and that nothing in life is just handed to me . . . I have to earn it!”

Jack Pokluda - St. Catherine's Montessori School, Presbyterian School, Second Baptist School

Jack Pokluda is off to Samford University to study business-law. He says: “Mike Holmquist (Coach Holmquist) was my Algebra II teacher junior year as well as my Statistics teacher senior year. He saw my strengths and encouraged me to become a leader in the classroom and beyond.”

Hannah Price – Second Baptist School

Hannah Price is heading to Baylor University to study nursing. She says: “The teacher that changed my life would be Michael Holmquist at Second Baptist School. He was my junior year Pre-Cal teacher as well as Varsity Basketball coach. Coach Holmquist, as we called him, made the learning environment so welcoming. He was very open with his faith and would encourage his students daily. He taught in a way where his class had fun but also learned a whole lot.”

Peyton Price – Second Baptist School

Peyton Price is heading to Baylor University to study finance. He says: “Mike Holmquist (11th grade Pre-Cal teacher) taught me maturity and how to be confident in my faith.”

Preston Price – Second Baptist School

Preston Price is off to Baylor University to study finance. He says the teacher who inspired him the most is his Statistics teacher, Coach Mike Holmquist. He says: “He made us be real about our faith which was very bold of him to do but in the long run it really makes me happy that the Lord has put people in my life like him. He was my 11th and 12th grade teacher.”

Trinity Reilly – West University Elementary, Pin Oak Middle School, St. Agnes Academy

Next year, Trinity Reilly will head to high school in Italy with Rotary Youth Exchange and, after that, will join the class of 2023 at University of Notre Dame, where she’ll study philosophy and theology. She says: “My junior year of St. Agnes, I took a class on self-compassion, taught by my counselor, Ms. Sarah Luna. She helped me grow into who I was supposed to be.”

Ellie Rotan – Hunters Creek Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School

Ellie Rotan is headed to University of Mississippi and will major in general studies. She says: “Miss Noemi Lopez, my 4th grade teacher at Hunters Creek Elementary, was the best teacher because she made learning fun.”

John Saucer – St. John’s School, Episcopal High School 

John Saucer is heading to The University of Alabama to study business. He says: “Mr. Isaiah Coleman: Knew how to connect with me and taught me life lessons (10th, 11th,12th) at Episcopal High School.”

Trevor Schneider – St. Vincent de Paul, Annunciation Orthodox School, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory 

Trevor Schneider is heading to the College of William & Mary to study government. He says: “I owe much of my academic and personal success to Mr. Peter Nurre, my sophomore and junior English teacher at Strake Jesuit. Prior to his class, I'd always had something of a knack for writing, but his sharp wit and relentless grading helped me to transform my casual passion into a source of endless joy and opportunity. Mr. Nurre instilled me with the confidence and resilience that I desperately needed, and it goes without saying that I'd be a very different person without his class.”

Megan Hafer, Tania Andrews

Megan Hafer, a Bellaire High School graduate, says Ms. Tania Andrews, who taught her Digital Media and Web Design, also taught her students lots of invaluable life lessons. Here Megan is pictured with Ms. Andrews at the Bellaire High School prom at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Isabel Siahatgar – Condit Elementary School, Trafton Academy, Bellaire High School

Isabel Siahatgar is off to The University of Texas at Austin to study geological sciences. She says: “Ms. Tania Andrews, my Web Design teacher, truly changed my high school experience. She is one of the best teachers I have ever had. I had her for a teacher in my sophomore and senior year. I can talk to her about anything. She always gives the best advice. If I ever have any personal problems she is the one I go to first. Ms. Andrews inspired me to take more chances and be more confident in myself. I don't know if I'll ever have another teacher like her again.”

Sophia Slawson-Villasmil - Rummel Creek Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

Sophia Slawson-Villasmil is headed to University of Wisconsin – Madison where she will study neuro-psychology. She says: “There have been so many but I must admit the teachers I have met while attending Stratford are some of the most inspiring and encouraging role models I could have dreamt of. Mr. Pretzel (Karl Poeztl) and Ms. Teresa Patina are the kind of adults I want to stay in touch until I have kids that go to their classes. Mr. Karl Poeztl teaches Geometry and AP Statistics - coincidentally he grew up in Wisconsin so we will both be ‘Cheese heads!’”

Alexander (Quanming) Tao – Beijing Bacui Bilingual School, Beijing No. 80 High School, Alexander-Smith Academy

Alexander Tao is headed to the University of Minnesota to study physics. He says: “My first Music teacher Ms. Gu when I was in Grade1 in Xing Huo primary school. She was my abecedarian of music.”

Addakin Thomas – Maplebrook Elementary School, Riverwood Middle School, Houston Christian High School 

Addakin Thomas will head to Chatham University to study business administration. He says: “My Pre-AP English teacher in 6th grade, Melisa Sony. She was not only a teacher, but a friend to me. She taught me to be passionate about my school work and how to become a successful student.”

Charlotte Tomlinson – Valley Oaks Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School

Charlotte is heading to Texas Christian University to study communications. She says: “The teacher who changed my life is Sharon Clark. She was my Photography teacher junior year and really was the person who first got me really interested in photography as a profession. She was just the type of person who I could talk to and always inspired me. I am going to miss her so much next year!”

Grace Vincent – River Oaks Baptist School, St. John’s School

Grace Vincent will study English, visual and dramatic arts and psychology at Rice University. She says: “Victoria Arizpe, Dance teacher St. John's School, grades 9-12. Although I had been classically trained in ballet from age 3, Mrs. Arizpe helped me find the joy in performing and finding my connection with the audience.”

Alexander Worley – Second Baptist School

Alexander Worley will head to Washington University in St. Louis next year to study political science. He says: “Meredith Offenbacher, my 11th grade AP Biology teacher at Second Baptist School, changed me by teaching me what genuine kindness looks like.”

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