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OP-ED: Highlighting teachers from North Early Learning Center

Dr. Rickie R. Harris
West Orange – Cove CISD Superintendent

North Early Learning Center is a unique early learning childhood education facility. A significant part of our success is attributed to the number of high-quality educators that use their gifts and talents to grow children and families. This week, I would like to highlight 3 of their outstanding teachers that make a difference in young lives every day.

LouAnn Benson has been teaching with WOCCISD for twenty-three years for a total of 27 years teaching. She has taught kindergarten and is now serving three-year-olds in our district’s Head Start program. Mrs. Benson attended Lamar University and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She has lived in Orange for the last 32 years and, although not a native Orange, certainly calls it home now. She is married to Jack Benson for the past 42 years, and they have two daughters and eight grandchildren. Her move from WOSE as a 25-year kindergarten teacher to Pre-k3 at NELC has been amazing, and she continues to love her time in the classroom and serving our district’s youngest Mustangs. She believes teaching is not just a job but a calling. Her favorite quote is “Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.” -W.B Yeats

Nancy Dallas, a 1984 WOS grad, has been giving back by serving three-year-olds for the past 22 years at NELC. She attended Stephen F. Austin State University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts Communications and Marketing Degree. She later became certified in Secondary English, Early Childhood, and ESL.  She has been married to Tony Dallas for the past 31 years; they have three children, whom all attended WOS. Tony and Nancy started a business and raised their children in the city and district they were proud to call home. Mrs. Dallas is very thankful for her time at WOCCISD and has enjoyed teaching so many children and serving their families. She has been a member of the Campus Instructional Leadership Team for the past seven years, contributing to the program’s overall success. Her favorite quote is, “Helping one person may not change the world, but it may change the world of one person!”

Regina Karonika is our Pre-K bilingual teacher. She has been in education for the past 21 years, two of which she has spent with us at WOCCISD. She is married to her husband, Charles, of 19 years. They have one beautiful daughter, also in education, and one a grandson, which she considers her pride and joy.  Diverse​ ​circumstances, ​including​ ​youth​ ​experiences, ​influenced​ ​her ​decision​ ​to​ ​become an​ ​educator. ​ She was born in Brazil​ ​and​ ​educated​ ​at​ ​Rondônia​ ​University Federal​​Foundation​ ​(UNIR).​ She​ ​graduated​ ​with​ ​a ​degree​ ​in​ ​English​ ​Language​ ​Arts​ ​and​ ​Literature (foreign language) in​ ​1997. In​ ​2000, ​ ​she​ ​received​ ​her​ ​certificate​​​ ​Post- Bachelor’s “Lato Sensu” ​with​ ​a​ ​concentration​ ​in​​​ ​​Pedagogy​ Psychology ​from​ ​the University​ ​of​ ​Amparo​ ​SP, ​ ​Brazil. ​ ​In​ ​2017, ​ ​She​ ​concluded​ a​ ​Master’s​ ​degree​ ​​in School​ ​Administration​ ​from​ ​Lamar​ ​University, ​ ​​​Beaumont​ ​, TX. Mrs. Karonika has been recognized and awarded throughout her career; accomplishments include ​Rookie Teacher​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Year, Teacher of the Year, and being recruited as a TEA reviewer.

In closing, this illustrates John Maxwell’s philosophy that “One is too small a number to achieve greatness;” these team members help WOCCISD achieve greatness every day!

Dr. Rickie R. Harris is the Superintendent at West Orange – Cove CISD