Hold her back! Kimberly Buskirk erupts with elation during a surprise visit to her classroom to inform her that she has been named a finalist for an H-E-B Excellence in Education Award. Providing emotional support are Gardens Principal Celia Fleischman and Assistant Principal Vicki Lenio.
Gardens Elementary music teacher Kimberly Buskirk was somewhere between Debussy and Ravel in her lesson on impressionist influences when a rhapsody of good news arrived at her classroom door on Tuesday.
Officials from H-E-B and the Pasadena ISD streamed in with hugs, banners, balloons and, most significantly, a check for $1,000 - Buskirk's reward for being named a finalist for an H-E-B Excellence in Education Award.
The honor also earned Gardens a grant for $1,000 from H-E-B.
Buskirk was one of only seven educators in the Houston area to be recognized as a finalist and one of only five teachers. She will be one of 40 statewide finalists who will gather in Austin May 13-15 for the announcement of state awards totaling more than $500,000.
Buskirk is a finalist in the Rising Star Elementary Category. The Rising Star Award honors exceptionally promising teachers with less than 10 years of teaching experience.
The state winner will receive a $5,000 check and earn their school an additional $5,000 grant.
Buskirk is in her sixth year at Gardens. She attended Teague Elementary, Park View Intermediate and graduated from Sam Rayburn High in 1995.
The H-E-B Excellent in Education Awards program is in its 10th year. It ranks as the largest monetary awards program for educators in Texas and as one of the largest in the nation.
Kimberly Buskirk accepts a $1,000 check from Lacey Dalcour-Salas, senior public affairs specialist with H-E-B.
Buskirk shows off her $1,000 award to her music students other well-wishers.
A family celebration: Buskirk with (in the back) her brother, Greg Etzel; her sister, Lisa Triche; her husband, Ed Buskirk; her mom, Judy Etzel; and (front) her two kids, six-year-old Savannah and eight-year-old Nathan.
Buskirk's students, family, colleagues and well-wishers -- including H-E-Buddy -- gather for a celebration photo.