Marie Flickinger receives a warm welcome from staff and community members as she arrives to a reception honoring her as the 2015 Distinguished Citizen.
Fred Roberts, Pasadena ISD Board of Trustee member, presents Marie Flickinger, Pasadena ISD's 2015 Distinguished Citizen, with a bronze plaque.
Close to 200 family, friends, community members, local dignitaries and school district employees, gathered for a reception on January 28 to honor founder and publisher of the South Belt-Ellington Leader Marie Flickinger as the 2015 Pasadena ISD Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
As Flickinger entered the lobby of the Lewis Career and Technical High School, attendees greeted her with cheers and hearty applause.
“The last award I was looking for or ever thought I would get would be Pasadena [ISD Distinguished] Citizen of the Year,” Flickinger said, “because [as] some of you know I have raised some Cain in the past.”
“But I have to tell you, I did it with heart,” she said. “I am so proud today and I want to thank the board and administration for allowing me to be recognized.”
Each year, the citizens of Pasadena nominate an individual who they believe has made a positive impact on students and the community. When former Pasadena ISD Superintendent Dr. Kirk Lewis informed Flickinger that she was voted unanimously for the recognition, she said, “I cried.”
Aside from her work at the South Belt-Ellington Leader, which prints weekly news stories about the district and the community, Flickinger has established positive relationships through her leadership, humanitarian efforts and support of educational initiatives.
One of her attributes which has garnered respect from community members is her ability to stay firm in her views even amid unpopular opinion. This is a quality that Fred Roberts, Pasadena ISD school board member and a friend of the Flickinger family, will not let the community forget.
“I have to ask everybody in the room if you have ever had somebody walk up to you and say ‘Marie Flickinger wants to talk to you,’ and you think, ‘oh, God,’” Roberts joked. “If you have, please raise your right hand.”
Several hands flew up as the room filled with laughter.
Roberts shared several stories about memorable times sitting in Flickinger’s office, discussing school matters, highlighting her passion for career and technical education and college readiness.
“She has helped expand dual credit options, particularly College Now, which is available on all high school campuses; and career and technical initiatives, such as the Lewis Career and Technical High School,” Roberts said.
“Marie told me about two or three years before this school was going to be built that y’all [referring to the board] need to have a career and technology high school and I thought to myself, ‘that’s a pretty good idea’. That’s the kind of person you are – a forward thinker.”
While serving on the San Jacinto College Board of Trustees, Flickinger advocated support of the Pasadena Early College High School Pilot program and the flourishing relationship between the two institutions.
“I think all of us that see education, even from my vantage point, which is a volunteer,” she said, “we know it’s going to take a close partnership between those two groups to help the students of today become truly successful.”
“Ten years ago, there was barely any communication between the ISDs and the community colleges. It took openness with Pasadena to work with San Jac. Thanks to the leadership from San Jac and Pasadena ISD, the story is so much different than it used to be.”
Success of this partnership was evident when PECHS graduate Alondra Moran and senior Mariana Prado shared their personal experiences as students in the program.
“I am truly grateful for the amazing opportunities that I have received as a student of the first class of graduates from PECHS. Because of this program, I, as a first year student at the University of Houston, already have more college credits than some of the juniors currently enrolled.”
Moran, valedictorian of the first graduating class of PECHS, expressed gratitude to San Jacinto College, Pasadena ISD and to Flickinger for the opportunity.
“Because of you, Mrs. Flickinger, I was able to graduate high school with an associate’s degree already under my belt and I was accepted into a Tier One University. Even though we have never met, you have cared enough for the education of Pasadena ISD students to advocate for a program that has changed my education.”
Prado echoed Moran’s sentiments.
“A lot of high school seniors are nervous about beginning college next fall, but I feel confident and prepared thanks to the wonderful experience I’ve had in the Pasadena Early College program,” Prado said. “I have also learned to set high goals and expectations for myself because I live by the PECHS philosophy: ‘Make history or be history.’”
The night concluded when the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees presented the new Distinguished Citizen with a bronze commemorative plaque that will be placed on permanent display outside the district’s Administration Building.
“I just feel that I am extremely, extremely blessed,” she said fighting back tears. “I just want to thank all of you for your friendship and your love, your support and yes, even your criticism.”
“And I know that we are going to work together to build a better community,” Flickinger said.“I thank God for having the chance to know you and be involved in this community.”
The Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees present Marie Flickinger, 2015 Distinguished Citizen, with a plaque that will be placed outside the Administration Building.
Marie Flickinger and her husband David
Alondra Moran (left), Pasadena Early College High School graduate, and Mariana Prado, current PECHS student, thank Flickinger for supporting the program.
Current and former principals representing the South Belt-Ellington area stopped for a photo with the honoree.
U.S. Marshal Gary Blankinship and Flickinger share a laugh.
Herman and Judy Williams pose with Flickinger.
Marie Flickinger and her family.
Marie Flickinger with San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer.
The South Belt-Ellington Leader team show support of their happy boss.