As CCISD teachers head back to class, Optimist Club awards 10 new teachers with classroom funds


Cove Leader-Press


The Copperas Cove Optimist Club donated $1,000 to teachers at the Copperas Cove Independent School District’s New Teacher Orientation Monday morning. 

Members of the Optimist Club stopped by just before the lunch break (sponsored by Educators Credit Union) and presented 10 new teachers each with a check for $100 to use for their classroom. 

Club President Sandor Vegh explained that this is a tradition that the Optimist Club does every year for the new teachers, using funds raised through the club’s Thrift Store in the Cove Terrace Shopping Center, which is open Fridays and Saturdays and is run completely by volunteers. 

“We try to recognize new teachers coming here, and especially the youngest ones setting up their classroom, they always need some money, so we thought we are going to recognize 10 teachers with $100 each,” Vegh said. 

Each of the 120 new teachers had their name printed on a strip of paper in a container, and Deputy Superintendent of Instructional Services Amanda Crawley selected the first name. The selected teacher then selected the next name until all 10 teacher names had been drawn. Checks were written on the spot right there for each selected teacher in front of their fellow teachers. 

The 10 teachers selected were Jaclyn Gadd, Sarah Yokubaitis, Alejandra Vidana, Marissa Carrillo, Megan Banks, Ashleigh Andrews, Jessica Sutton, Bethany Gaskins, Paula Bardshar and Richard Ellis. 

Prior to the check presentations, the new teachers heard from the district’s Special Education Coordinator. Earlier in the morning, the teachers also received their district-issued laptop and enjoyed a breakfast sponsored by the Copperas Cove Education Foundation. 

Although students don’t return to campuses until August 18, the majority of CCISD’s teachers started their first day back at work on Wednesday. New teachers, however, started on Monday morning. 

Ashley Butler is a new teacher, but she is not new to CCISD. Butler served as a paraprofessional with the district for five years. 

She became a paraprofessional as a way to stay close to her kids, but she fell in love with being a para and decided to stay. She ended up as a Special Education paraprofessional, which she loved, she said. 

She decided to pursue teaching after attending the district’s convocation a couple years ago and listening to the inspirational guest speaker who shared a message about determination and not giving up and moving forward. 

“I left that and literally went, I asked [Assistant Principal Shay] Adams and said, ‘Can I go up to the college real quick?’ and he let me go, and I went up there and I registered for classes and then the rest is history,” Butler said. “It really inspired me, and I kept at it. I told myself I just wasn’t going to quit and then, we’re here.”

Butler will be teaching 11th grade English and will also be coaching volleyball and track and field at Copperas Cove High School. 

Butler also attended the district’s Summer Institute for two weeks prior to the new teacher orientation. 

“I’ve been getting like information for almost two weeks now, so this kind of just like all puts it together, and then I can refer back to that information. It’s good,” Butler said. 

She said she was really looking forward to being in her classroom this year. 

“Letting them know that English is wonderful,” Butler said. “It’s beautiful, and you don’t have to be scared of it and just helping kids, like I get to be with kids. I’m grateful.”

Ashleigh Andrews was one of the teachers selected to receive a $100 check from the Optimist Club. She was grateful for the help, especially as a new teacher. 

Andrews’ mother is a teacher herself, and Andrews is a Copperas Cove High School Class of 2012 alumni. She is new to the teaching profession and new to the district as an employee as well. 

“This is really exciting,” Andrews said. “I’m very thankful to the Optimists. I mean, these classes I’m teaching specifically, they may be material intensive, and this is really going to give an opportunity for the kids to have more projects to do, have more labs to do and get more hands on experiences with the material.”

She will be teaching Principles of Human Services and Hospitality and Food Service at S.C. Lee Junior High this school year. 

“For the last six years, I’ve been working at Whataburger, and so I’ve got a lot of experience with food service and working with kids that are 16, 17-years-old, and that’s what really made me connect to working with younger kids, wanting to come in and teach on a more formal level,” Andrews said.

On Tuesday, the teachers were treated to a breakfast served by Girl Scout Troop # 6120. Later that day, the new teachers learned about the T-TESS appraisal system and then got to visit their campuses to get a tour and get familiar. Tuesday evening, the new teachers were paired with mentor teachers at a special Mentor/Mentee dinner at the Civic Center. 

The 120 new teachers bring the total number of teachers at CCISD up to 815. 

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