TEXARKANA, Texas -- Texarkana Independent School District's own Elodia Witterstaetter has been selected as one of 20 principals to be recognized by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association.
Witterstaetter has been the principal of Westlawn Elementary for three years and has been working in TISD since 2002. Witterstaetter was named TEPSAn of the Year for Region 8.
In a previous Gazette report, Witterstaetter said she recently traveled with the organization to Austin to advocate for equitable funding, safe schools and student success.
"We as campus leaders need to learn how to thrive in an educational system that's always changing and turning those challenges into opportunities," Witterstaetter said.
Witterstaetter said her initial foray into education was "kind of an accident."
"I was a receptionist, and I didn't know that that's (education) kind of where I wanted to go. It was just really working through great educational leaders that became mentors for me, being able to see firsthand how we can make an impact in education. I have been very blessed to have great mentors throughout my journey," Witterstaetter said.
Witterstaetter named Texas High School Principal Patti O'Bannon as one of her major mentors. O'Bannon has also received the TEPSAn award in the past.
"It's a true honor, you know, especially when you're presented with great administrators across the state of Texas for all 20 region. ... I'm just humbled and very thankful for the opportunity. The leaders at TEPSA have continued to encourage me to kind of step out of my comfort zone," Witterstaetter said.
Witterstaetter said she credits her parents for advocating for education and motivating her to be a first generation college graduate.
"I didn't know the ins and outs of college and community college and it was people here in this community that really showed me the way and walked me through that," she said.
Witterstaetter said she is proud of her staff at Westlawn for all of the work they have done.
"Sometimes we so get caught up in the busy-ness that we don't take a step back just to see how far we've come," Witterstaetter said.
Witterstaetter said her husband and three children have been her No. 1 cheerleaders throughout her career.
"One of my favorite quotes that speaks to me is, 'To make progress, you have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable,'" she said.
TEPSAn honorees will be recognized on Wednesday, June 7 in Round Rock, Texas, during the TEPSA Award Celebration.