AUSTIN — Millsap ISD Superintendent Deann Lee was recently honored with the Charles Pickitt Administrator of the Year Award by the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) during the 2019 ATPE Summit held at the Marriott Marquis in Houston.
“ATPE is proud to recognize outstanding educators in Texas,” ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes said. “The educators honored this year were selected because of their dedication to giving our children the highest quality of education and for inspiring the next generation of educators.”
The Charles Pickitt Educator of the Year Awards annually recognize ATPE members who demonstrate exceptional or innovative capabilities in their respective educational fields. This year’s winners each received a $5,000 prize along with their awards.
Lee is a long-time ATPE member. She joined the association in 1996 and previously served as the 2012-13 ATPE State President. Lee has served as Millsap ISD superintendent since 2016. She previously served as Millsap ISD assistant superintendent. Lee has been teaching since 1988.
Lee didn’t tell anyone that she had been nominated for the award, but later found out that ATPE had contacted MISD Assistant Superintendent Edie Martin. Lee said she was surprised to see Martin and Chief Financial Officer Kim Alexander show up for the awards ceremony. Lee said Board Secretary Jerry Walker and Trustee Jon Hartman had also traveled to Houston to attend the ceremony.
“That was as much an honor that they would take time out of such an extremely busy time of the year for us,” Lee said. “We’re still working on budgets and salaries and getting school started, so for them to take the time not knowing whether I would win or not just meant the world to me. That’s why I’m here because that is an example of our staff and our board and how we’re family and support each other, because that went beyond work. That was friendship, that was support.”
Lee was honored on stage at the 2019 ATPE Summit Awards Luncheon, which saw hundreds of educators gather to celebrate the achievements of public school employees from across Texas. With nearly 100,000 members statewide, ATPE is the largest educators’ association in the state and serves as a major voice for public education.
Lee said the honor of winning Administrator of the Year was humbling to represent educators across the state who put in the extra effort.
“It’s extremely humbling because you know that you are simply representing the half a million educators in the state of Texas, who are extraordinary,” Lee said. “I mean that in every sense of the word because people are giving of their time every day. All summer long, we’ve had people up here that weren’t getting paid that are doing a camp or they’re working on their room or they’re in professional development.”
The win speaks to the quality and culture at MISD and shows that even smaller districts can achieve recognition, Lee said.
“I tell our students and staff all the time that we are Millsap,” Lee said. “Just because we’re small doesn’t mean that we can’t achieve and accomplish or win awards. I think this is an example that even though we are small, we’re rural, that we can still be recognized for what we’re doing in Millsap.”
In addition to recognizing outstanding members and educators, ATPE leaders and members from each of the association’s 20 regions attend the ATPE Summit each year in order to vote on a variety of new initiatives for the association, elect and formally induct new state officers, and train new volunteers.
Attendees also had the opportunity to earn hours of continuing professional education credit, collaborate with fellow educators on a variety of initiatives and gain new insights into the state of public education in Texas from ATPE’s experienced staff of experts.
ATPE has been a strong voice for Texas educators since 1980. It is the leading educators’ association in Texas with approximately 100,000 members statewide. With its strong collaborative philosophy, ATPE speaks for classroom teachers, administrators, and future, retired and para-educators and works to create better opportunities for Texas’ five million public school students. ATPE is the ally and the voice of Texas public education.
Weatherford Democrat reporter Madelyn Edwards contributed to this report.