This year, the Kingsville School District named Carvajal its 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year.
After being selected J.R. Perez Elementary School Campus Teacher of the Year, she was nominated for the overall honor as the district’s outstanding teacher.
When she graduated from RHS, Carvajal began a career path toward a teaching degree in fine arts at Texas A&M- Kingsville. Specifically, Carvajal set her sights on becoming a choir director – a dream that evolved at RHS.
Her love of singing spurred Carvajal to perform at church, weddings, school events and other functions. During her senior year, she competed in UIL solo and ensemble, despite the absence of a choir program or music director. With the help of a church pianist, she advanced to the state UIL contest.
“I decided at that moment I was going to become a choral director and return to Refugio to teach,” she said.
During a chance encounter with a young boy while she was a student at Kingsville, a new vision of her future evolved.
“One weekend my aunt asked me if I could tutor my cousin – he was having a difficult time in English class and his school tutorials were not helping,” Carvajal said. “After our little tutoring session, I saw and recognized a look in my cousin’s face that he ‘got it.’ It felt so good to know that it was because of me that he had this sense of accomplishment.”
The passion and love of education flourished and grew. She became active in her sorority and saw a need to lead the sorority group into a branch of the national fraternity. The Refugio native was the founding mother of the Theta Phi Alpha Gamma Zeta Chapter at Texas A&M University- Kingsville.
Her benevolent work with that organization continues today.
After graduation from the university, Carvajal taught at elementary schools in Alice and St. Paul’s Lutheran before settling in at J.R. Perez Elementary where her career in education continues to thrive.
She serves as a mentor for student teachers from A&M and has since become the education lead teacher at J.R. Perez Elementary, mentoring colleagues and supervising paraprofessionals.
“I strive for excellence in my profession,” she says.
The Refugio graduate also is involved with the Perez Cadets, the “pride of J.R. Perez Elementary,” as much as possible. The group assists with veterans programs, dinners, program assemblies and other veteran-based activities.
“My goal is to instill a passion and love for learning,” she said. “I want my love for learning to pour out to my students.”
The educator credits her success to her parents, Oscar and Brenda Meza of Refugio.
The family came to Refugio during the summer before Stacie’s sophomore year. Brenda Meza transferred to the Refugio H-E-B to serve as its service manager.
Stacie’s parents had married young and started their family early, but hard work and perseverance to succeed set an example for the siblings. Her father learned a trade and started his own business. Her mother worked to obtain a G.E.D. and enrolled in college.
“I realized how vital an education was when my mother studied night and day, pursuing her associates degree in bookkeeping,” she said. “My mother set an example for her children by finishing her education.”
Caravajal says her accomplishments will be measured by her students’ passion and hunger for learning and marked by the numbers of her students who graduate high school and college.
“It will make me proud to know that I laid the foundation to their academic achievement,” she says.
(Editors note: This week, we begin a series of features on county graduates who have been recognized for their work, their achievements and/or their success. Next week, Estherlene Moya Lepine, an RHS graduate of 1968, will be featured. Kenda Nelson may be contacted at 361 526-2397 or email email@example.com.)