Our weekly roundup of Toasts & Roasts:
A toast to Gina Hodges, a second-grade teacher at Diboll’s H.G. Temple Elementary School, who has been nominated for the National LifeChanger of the Year Award. The award is given to teachers who make a positive impact in the lives of students, enhance their school or district’s atmosphere, culture and pride, demonstrate exemplary leadership at the school and/or district level, possess a proven record of professional excellence, show commitment to building a nurturing environment that supports learning, and adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards. Hodges’ daughter Lexi, a senior at Stephen F. Austin State University also studying to become an educator, nominated her mother for the award for her creativity and kindness in the classroom. “She inspires me to be the best version of myself that I can be,” Lexi said. Superintendent Vicki Thomas and Principal Nikki Miller said it’s a well-deserved honor. “She’s the reason some of the students show up for school every day, because they know they’re going to be loved, they’re going to be taken care of,” Miller said. Thomas said Hodges’ classroom does not have walls — she takes the students out to act in the community, to share their creations and to come back with a greater appreciation of the world around them. “On top of all that, she teaches kindness and respect,” she said. “Kids who leave her classroom come out as respectful young men and women, very knowledgeable.”
A reader-contributed toast to two unsung heroes with the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office. A 77-year-old reader on Lone Star Road reported that her mailbox had been knocked over. She said a deputy came out and took her incident report, but then waded into the muddy, nasty water to set the box upright. Later that night, the mailbox was knocked over a second time, she said. That deputy did the same thing — taking her report before getting down in the mud and water to set her mailbox upright again. Both deputies were just as nice as they could be, she said. She didn’t get their names, but wanted to let everyone know how much she appreciated their efforts.
A toast to the Brookshire Brothers Charitable Foundation for presenting $130,000 in grants to multiple nonprofit and educational organizations. “You make things happen in your communities,” said John Alston, Brookshire Brothers’ president, CEO and Charitable Foundation board member. “You change lives. We are grateful to have the opportunity to help you live out your mission. We thank you for what you do every day.” The company’s foundation has made more than a million dollars in charitable contributions over the course of the last decade. Angelina County organizations benefitting from the company’s efforts include: the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas; American Cancer Society; Angelina Alliance for Children (Harold’s House); Angelina Arts Alliance; Boys & Girls Clubs of Deep East Texas; Buckner Children and Family Services; Christian Information and Service Center Inc.; Friends of the Ellen Trout Zoo; Habitat for Humanity of Angelina County; Junior Achievement of East Texas; Junior League of Lufkin; Legacy Institute for Financial Education; Lufkin Neighborhood Strong; Texas Forestry Museum; The Joseph House Inc.; The Mosaic Center Inc.; The Salvation Army; Volunteer Services Council; Women’s Shelter of East Texas; Women’s Sober House; Zavalla Food Pantry; Angelina College Center for Non-Profit Leadership; and the Lufkin ISD Education Foundation.
A toast to Brandon Elementary fourth-grader Aanvi Manda, who spelled her way to success in the individual competition at the Kiwanis Scripps District Spelling Bee.Competing against 11 other students, Aanvi correctly spelled the word ‘‘agitated’’ to win first place. The win means she will advance to the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee in Houston on March 23. The spelling bee, which covers Angelina, Nacogdoches, Sabine, San Augustine and Houston counties, had about 75 children participate. There were 12 individual spellers along with 15 kindergarten through fifth-grade teams and seven sixth- through eighth-grade teams. Regents Academy in Nacogdoches took first place in both the kindergarten through fifth grade and sixth- to eighth-grade team competitions. An awards ceremony will be today at Crown Colony Country Club.
Editor’s note: Is there a person or organization you’d like to nominate for either a Toast or a Roast due to a recent accomplishment, event or incident? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 631-2618. You can also contact us anonymously through our online news tip page at lufkindailynews.com/tips.