CATE Center teacher Joe Paneitz named District Teacher of the Year and wins $10,000 cash prize sponsored by Robbins Chevrolet



Joe Paneitz, robotics teacher at the Career and Technical Education Center, is the Humble Independent School District and Secondary Teacher of the Year. Paneitz won a $10,000 cash prize, sponsored by Robbins Chevrolet, at the Humble ISD Education Foundation Gala on April 12.


Paneitz has shifted the culture in his classroom by providing students the opportunity to use their engineering and problem-solving skills both in and outside of the classroom. He challenges his students to come up with solutions for real-world problems, transforming engineering concepts into tangible products. He recently challenged his students to create an assistive device for a retired Humble ISD teacher, who was diagnosed with ALS. His student’s built devices that would make everyday life a little easier for the retired teacher.


“The gravity of the lesson pulled in 100% of the class because it was more than just a lesson,” Paneitz said. “It was a purpose that all kids can feel and a practical pathway to prosperity.”  


TOY Francesca Rathke

Francesca Rathke, first-grade teacher at Whispering Pines, is the Elementary Teacher of the Year. Rathke received a getaway trip to a home in the Florida Keys donated by Kathleen Monahan and Christian Eldringhoff, and a first-class roundtrip flight for two, donated by United Airlines.


Rathke works to create a classroom environment where her students feel empowered each day. Rathke credits her Foster Elementary second-grade teacher, Mrs. Spiegelmire, for inspiring her to make learning fun and memorable. She hopes to leave the same impact on her students at Whispering Pines.  Rathke gives her students the freedom to create in the classroom. Recently, her students recreated their favorite fairytale or folktale as a puppet show and presented their show in front of their classmates. The students designed their own backdrops, puppets, and worked together to write scripts. Her projects exhibit the type of adventure in learning that all students deserve.


“My hope is that my students will look back on their first-grade year and feel just as empowered, inspired, and confident as I did in Mrs. Spiegelmire’s class,” Rathke said. “I want these memories to last forever.”


In the spring semester, Humble ISD schools choose a Teacher of the Year for its campus. The 2019-2020 Finalists and District Teachers of the Year were chosen by a district selection committee based upon essays and interviews in March. All District Finalists were honored on stage and walked away with a new iPad, donated by parents and alumni Jonathan and Carrie Brinsden, and iPad cover, donated by Nancy Shortsleeve of LogoStuff.  All ten finalists were also invited to attend a Houston Astros game in the Houston Sports Authority Suite, provided by Houston Sports Authority and City of Houston Councilman Dave Martin.



District Teacher of the Year Finalists are:

Anita McKeague– Elm Grove Elementary, 4th Grade
Allison Janes – Fall Creek Elementary, Music
Lisa Sonnier – Maplebrook Elementary, Kindergarten
Tiffany Curtis – Oak Forest Elementary, 5th Grade
Francesca Rathke - Whispering Pines Elementary, 1st Grade
Michael Blayney – Riverwood Middle School, Health
Sarah Hill – Ross Sterling Middle School, World Cultures
Cinthia Ureta – Timberwood Middle School, RELA
Kristen Lynam – Kingwood Park High School, Biology
Joe Paneitz – Career & Technology Education Center, Robotics


The Education Foundation Gala benefits the Humble ISD Education Foundation Innovative Education grant program. This program enhances academic opportunities and inspires a foundation of lifelong learning for all students in Humble ISD.