COE honors top educators at Excellence gala

Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2017


Honorees are (front row, from left) Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters, Dr. Emma Amaka, Dr. Cherry Gooden, Dr. Quinella A. Minix, Tailis Grant, Dr. Melanie Johnson, (back row); Dr. Christopher Pichon, Dr. Jennifer Roberts, Danielle Robinson (representing Dr. Rod Paige), Sonja Dixon, Felicia Ceaser-White, Lorena Marie Barker and DeAndra Waters.

Texas Southern University’s College of Education (COE) honored outstanding alumni educators February 16 at its Excellence in Education Gala.

Two graduates from COE’s disciplines including Counseling, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Administration and Foundations, and Health and Kinesiology, along with four exemplary teachers, were chosen for recognition exemplifying the characteristics of a caring, committed, competent and culturally responsive educator as outlined in the COE’s conceptual framework.

Dr. Rod Paigeformer TSU COE dean, football coach and athletic director, HISD superintendent, U.S. Secretary of Education and current Jackson State University interim president, along with Dr. Cherry Gooden, retired COE professor and department chair, Hero in Education and W.E.B. Dubois Higher Education Award recipient, and mentor to countless COE alumni, were each presented with Dean Awards for their trailblazing careers as educators and contributions to TSU.

“We were excited to honor our alumni who make a difference and are change-agents with America’s youth”, said COE Dean Lillian B. Poats. “As I visited with them and heard their stories, I was amazed by the work that they have done and the paths that they have traveled. From the halls of the Roderick R. Paige College of Education Building to the world at-large, they have excelled in their various environments.  

Counseling honorees were Dr. Jennifer Roberts and Dr. Quinella A. Minix. Roberts earned her doctorate in Counselor Education from TSU and currently serves as the director of Student Support Services for Lamar Consolidated Independent School District where she provides professional support for counselors, social workers, and district at-risk initiatives such as the teen pregnancy program, Activities Supporting Adolescent Parents (ASAP) and the social-service resource center, Common Threads. Minix earned her master’s degree in counseling and a Doctor of Education in counselor education from TSU. She is a licensed professional counselor supervisor, certified employee assistance professional, and board-certified coach with over 20 years of experience in health care and behavioral health.

Curriculum and Instruction honorees were Dr. Emma Amaka and Dr. Melanie Johnson. Amaka earned her doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a program emphasis in Urban Education from TSU. She retired as an associate professor of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at TSU after more than 57 years teaching everything from kindergarten to higher education. Johnson earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from TSU and is president and CEO of the John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Sciences, also known as The Health Museum.   She is the first African American to hold a senior position in the history of the Houston Museum District.   

Educational Administration and Foundations honorees were Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters and Dr. Christopher Pichon. McZeal Walters has a master’s and doctorate of Educational Leadership from TSU, and serves as the associate dean of Graduate Programs at the University of St. Thomas and is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership. Pichon earned his doctorate degree in Educational Administration from TSU. He serves as senior director for School Administration in Galena Park ISD and is an adjunct professor in TSU’s COE Graduate Program.

Health and Kinesiology honorees were Felicia Ceaser-White and Sonja Dixon. Ceaser-Whit earned her bachelor’s in Human Performance from TSU and is the manager of Health and Physical Education in HISD where she oversees all Health/Physical Education curriculum and programs at the elementary and secondary level for all 283 campuses. Dixon earned her bachelor’s in Physical Education and masters of Education in Educational Administration from TSU and is pursuing a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from TSU. Sonja has served HISD students for 26 years where she has worked as a teacher/coach, high school administrator, and her current position as assistant athletics director.

Exemplary Teachers honored were LorenaMarie Barker (Interdisciplinary Studies with concentration in Elementary Education), Bresean AndréCockrell (Mathematics with a concentration in Secondary Education), Tailis Grant (Interdisciplinary Studies), and DeAndra Waters (Early Childhood Education). 

The sold-out event raised funds for student scholarships to help COE attract and educate high-quality candidates striving to be teachers, administrators, counselors, and health and sports professionals.

“Last night was an amazing event, so well executed and inspiring,” said honoree Jennifer Roberts. “Events like that don’t just happen, and when they look like they do, it means that the event was well thought out, planned and delivered. As I hung my plaque in my office this morning, I was reminded of the feeling I had when I sat in my first graduate course at TSU….my bar has been raised and I must rise to the occasion.”

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Last updated: 10/05/2018