South Texas ISD Science Academy Engineering Teacher Receives ‘Outstanding Teacher’ Award


This year’s award recipient is Nelly Houston, engineering teacher and Career and Technical Education (CTE) department team leader at South Texas Independent School District (STISD) Science Academy in Mercedes.  Courtesy Image
This year’s award recipient is Nelly Houston, engineering teacher and Career and Technical Education (CTE) department team leader at South Texas Independent School District (STISD) Science Academy in Mercedes.  Courtesy Image
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MERCEDES, Texas — Late last month, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) honored its inaugural Outstanding Secondary Education Teacher of the Year during its E-Week & Broadening Participation in Engineering Summit held at the UTRGV Edinburg campus. 

This year’s award recipient is Nelly Houston, engineering teacher and Career and Technical Education (CTE) department team leader at South Texas Independent School District (STISD) Science Academy in Mercedes. 

Courtesy Image

Dr. Ala Qubbaj, dean of the CECS, shared the inspiration behind this award program, saying, “This award was created to recognize teachers who are making a significant impact in inspiring and preparing the next generation of engineers starting in K-12.”

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Through this award program, the CECS sought to recognize an individual who is a role model for RGV teachers and an inspiration for their students. To pinpoint this individual, the college collected nominations from college students and faculty. With all nominations in, Houston stood out at the very top. 

According to Dr. Qubbaj, “Mrs. Houston’s passion for engineering education, coupled with her professional achievements and willingness to go above and beyond the normal expectations to ensure that students learn and receive opportunities, makes her not only a regional but a national role model.”

After she graduated from STISD Science Academy, Houston pursued a career in electrical engineering, graduating from Boston University and working at a world-wide semiconductor test equipment company with headquarters in Massachusetts. A position opened for an engineering teacher at her alma mater, and with the support of her family, she made the decision to return home to teach alongside her high school mentors, becoming the first female engineering teacher at the school. Houston has taught engineering at Science Academy for 16 years so far, positively impacting thousands of Rio Grande Valley students along the way, including many students who went on to pursue engineering. 

Houston is grateful to receive this special award, and she credits her support network and those with whom she interacts daily with putting her in the position to receive it. She shares, “I am very humbled that among many more credentialed and distinguished teachers in the Valley, this award was given to me. I proudly accept this award and would like to take the opportunity to express gratitude to my wonderful husband and family, my amazingly supportive colleagues, and my enthusiastic students, who continually influence and inspire me.”

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Fond of the show Star Trek, Houston likens her dedication to the teaching profession and to continuous improvement to one of her favorite characters, the android named Data. According to Houston, Data is always trying to reprogram himself to become more human, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing miserably. Her favorite quote from this character is one that she applies to her own life: “We must strive to be more than we are. It does not matter that we will not reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards.” Passionate about her profession, she, like Data, will continue to strive to be better, always.

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