Team Melissa / Difference Maker Shirt

#DifferenceMaker Showcase

The Difference Maker Award initiative began in 2019 as a way to honor Melissa ISD employees and community members who have made a significant impact at Melissa Schools. Each honoree receives a plaque and is recognized with a student-designed ornament on the Difference Makers tree. This digital showcase features all of our #DifferenceMaker honorees, along with their definition of "joy" or what they believe it means to be a Difference Maker.

"Difference Makers" was the 2019-2020 strategic vision at Melissa Schools.

The Difference Makers tree was proposed, designed, and built by North Creek Elementary art teacher, Ashley Fortune, over the course of three months. The tree fixture is made of welded rebar, linseed oil patina, and wire, and is affixed to the wall on the south end of the Melissa ISD board room, located at 1904 Cooper Street.

Difference Makers Tree

Difference Makers Tree

Paul Anderson

Debra Arvin

"Teaching is a calling that God put on my heart at a very early age. As a result, as Erma Bombeck says, 'When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'."

Jennifer Aston

Jennifer Aston

"Don't focus on the results, focus on the process. If you perfect the process, the results will come."

Manny Avila

Manny Avila

"'What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.' - Nelson Mandela"

Ray Banks with student

Rayfield Banks

"Show the world you are not here to just pass through. Leave great footprints wherever you pass and be remembered for the change you initiated."

Max Bechard

Maxime Bechard

Doug Bingman

Doug Bingman

Lisa Blunt

Lisa Blunt

"My joy is defined by helping students find their joy in education, no matter the challenges. We also share in our curiosity, celebrate our differences, and build community within our school. Learning is more than academic; it is full circle and it is pure JOY!"

Kim Boedeker

Kim Boedeker

"My joy is Melissa. We tell our story of who we are and what we believe through the eyes of our students. You do not have to look far to be grateful for our students, teachers, parents, community, and city. Melissa is a place like no other."

Kristi Brakebill

"I want my kids to walk out of my math class at the end of the year knowing that while math is important, they are more important to me."

Jenni Breaux

"My joy is building relationships with my students so they will know how much I care about them. I want them to always know I am in their corner, encouraging them and cheering them on. Once those relationships are built and that trust is in place, there is nothing better than watching them make academic connections because they know they are in a space where it's safe to take chances and think outside the box. That's where the best learning happens."

Kyle Brenner

"Education is autocatalytic!"

Chelsea Brock

Chelsea Brock

"To me, a Difference Maker means to bring joy to our students and to be there for them not only academically, but emotionally as well. We're often the light of their day, and it means the world to me to be sure we shine as bright as we can for them while instilling in them the knowledge they need to be successful Cardinals."

Leanne Bush

Leanne Bush

Sharon Carroll

Sharon Carroll

Emily Chapman

"Being a Difference Maker means every day bringing a relentless drive to move the students of Melissa ISD forward. It means putting others’ needs above your own and always striving to be better today than you were yesterday."

Hillary Croissant

Dr. Hillary Croissant

"'Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.' - Brene Brown" Ornament designed by Weston Croissant.

Maddie Coe with student

Maddie Coe

"I find the utmost joy in the opportunity I've been given to connect with the students and families of Melissa Schools through our districtwide strategic communication initiatives and public relations efforts. I love showcasing our Cardinals' achievements in a variety of ways, while also working to reach our stakeholders with factual, transparent, and timely school-related information. I believe that a Difference Maker at their core is someone who is a self-starter and a go-getter, who is committed to Team Melissa, passionate about the position they are in, and cares deeply about the success and well-being of all students. I am honored and humbled to have been named a Difference Maker and I know I am in excellent company."

Jill Cox

Jill Cox

"Being a Difference Maker for me is realizing each day is a gift, and trying to look for ways to be a positive force and a blessing to others with a lot of humor along the way."

Kelly Davidson with student

Kelly Davidson

Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis

"It feels so good to work alongside such a supportive staff and great kids every day. I am continually excited and optimistic to contribute to the MISD culture in some small way."

Kenny Deel

Kenny Deel

"Cardinal Pride!"

Thomas Dickson

Thomas Dickson

Jamie Dockery with student

Jamie Dockery

Alex Eichel with student

Alex Eichel

"My joy is helping kids 'get it', building relationships, and supporting kids both in the classroom and outside of it. I've always loved this quote by Winston Churchill: 'We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.'"

Josie Figard

Pam Fortner with student

Pam Fortner

"To me a strong Difference Maker will 'Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.' - Philippians 2:3-4"

Lauren Fortune

Rick Gagrin

"I love whenever kids compete successfully, from working hard and putting in the time and effort to reach that success they desired from the beginning. I'm just thankful I was a small part of it."

Karen Gracy

Kelli Gobel

Kelli Gobel

"'Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.' - Anonymous"

Kristie Golden

Kristie Golden

"'I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.' - Mother Teresa"

Brett Gustaveson with student

Brett Gustaveson

"I wake up every morning excited to go to work. Melissa students have made a huge difference in my life. I am honored to be a Cardinal."

Austin Hall

Ryan Hamilton

"'Be who you needed when you were younger.' - Ayesha Siddiqi"

Amanda Hardy

Amanda Hardy

Austin Hall

"Knowing my work enables thousands of minds to grow and learn is my joy and my honor."

Renee Heinz with student

Renee Heinz

Annette Hernandez

Annette Hernandez

"Being a Difference Maker to me means bringing positivity to students, colleagues and friends. It means not being afraid to get out of my comfort zone, willing to take risks and also realizing failure is an option. Failure means trying which then leads to repetition which will then hopefully lead to success. Repetition to improve brings me which in turn helps me make a difference to people every day."

Scott Humphries

Scott Humphries

"Our purpose here at Melissa ISD to provide students the greatest opportunity to grow in knowledge and become great people in their future. It gives me great joy to see our students excelling in every opportunity they are presented with."

George James with student

George James

Rhonda Kaczor

"If it cost you your integrity, you paid too much."

Cindy Kasson

Chrissy King

Chrissy King

"'Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.' My joy and my desire as a Difference Maker is to be the teacher who not only delivers lessons, but ignites a passion for learning in students. Seeing students excited about learning new things is the most amazing feeling as a teacher. Seeing those light bulb moments as they begin to understand what was so confusing before energizes and inspires me."

David King

"It is a real joy for me to see students become "next-level ready." To see elementary students become middle school ready, middle school students become high school ready, and high school students become college ready, and to know I had a part in their success means the world to me."

Lisa Lakey

"My joy comes from our Melissa families, students and all our staff. To support and work alongside all those that inspire, lead and make a difference for our kids, brings me joy everyday!"

Jason Little

Estella Lopez

Estella Lopez

"'Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.' - Maya Angelou"

Rafael Loya with student

Rafael Loya Sr.

Cruz Malone

Venus Malone

Venus Malone

"I’m so honored and blessed to receive the Difference Maker award. Melissa ISD has given me the tools and passion to be a Difference Maker for my students, parents, staff and community. My goal is to always have passion and compassion for others. Thank you, Melissa ISD for being a part of my life. 'Whatever you are, be a good one.' - Abraham Lincoln"

Bruce Minchey with student

Bruce Minchey

"It has been my honor to serve Melissa ISD as a school board trustee for the past 15+ years. Our staff and students are the very best and continue to make us proud! I began serving as a way to give back to our community but have received so much in return that I think I am the primary beneficiary."

Katrina Molski

Katrina Molski

"My joy is to see the look on a child’s face when they truly understand what I’ve taught them and knowing that I have made a real difference in their life."

Cari Montgomery

Chris Mueller

"To me, being a Difference Maker means doing everything I possibly can each and every day to make sure that our students and staff are successful. I am forever thankful to be part of an amazing team of educators and being able to see firsthand the impact they make on the lives of our children. I am proud to be part of Team Melissa."

Keith Murphy

Keith Murphy

"I get joy from watching kids smile and seeing our people work together with selfless hearts. I love to see the great things that happen when we crave the success of others. I am honored to be a Difference Maker in the lives of our students and staff."

Tammy Murphy with student

Tammy Murphy

"I truly believe these two things about teaching: a child does not care how much you know until they know how much you care (love them), and a child will probably not remember everything you said, but they will always remember the way you made them feel (be kind)."

Julie Nally

Julie Nally

"'Be the change you wish to see in the world.' - Ghandi"

Carl Nix

Nancy Perdomo

Nancy Perdomo

"'To create change that lasts, we need to know what we stand for.' - Simon Sinek"

Walter Perez with student

Walter Perez

"My joy is to see our staff and students succeed...we make a difference when we share and promote our passion."

Lance Rainey

"I love being able to make financial decisions with our team that impact all stakeholders across the district and community for the future of Melissa Schools. I'm truly humbled by this recognition and to be alongside the names associated with this honor."

Israel Reyes

I enjoy what I do tremendously. I get to play a pivotal role in the lives of my students at a time where they are the perfect balance of strength and unfiltered raw vulnerability. For that reason, every day is an opportunity to know something about my students. I genuinely believe they learn about me as much as I learn about them."

Robert Rich with student

Dr. Robert Rich

"One of the most enduring joys of my life has been the opportunity to be a small part of Melissa Schools during this special time and in such a special place."

Eric Rodgers

Laura Rodgers

"Being a Difference Maker as a school nurse isn't just about ice packs and band-aids. It's about building relationships with your staff, students, parents, and community. A positive attitude, having trust, and showing compassion is infectious and allows the smallest things to make a big impact. Making a difference and changing lives is one moment, one smile, one hug, one word of encouragement at a time."

Laurel Ross

"I experience each joy each day as I serve alongside my teammates. It brings me great joy to see my students' faces light up as they reach their goals and begin their journey as life-long readers and learners. To me, a Difference Maker is someone who invests in the lives of their students, co-workers and the families they serve. A difference maker is committed to the success and growth or their team and students and is invested in pursuing every possible avenue to achieve their success."

Eddie Seals

Michael Simpson

Micheal Simpson

Duke Sparks

"Lane Kiffen says, 'To do the IMPOSSIBLE, you must see the INVISIBLE.'"

Christina Stover

Christina Stover

"My joy is found in both witnessing the bright light as it shines from each student, yet also being privileged to hold space for them in their darkest moments. They are the true difference makers in my life."

Seth Stinton

"Receiving the Difference Maker award is such a tremendous honor. Giving time and energy to student athletes in Melissa gives me joy and makes me want to come to work every day."

Barbara Strickland

Barbara Strickland

"Getting messy while making art is my true passion and what a blessing it is to be able to share this passion with my students! I hope that in creating art, my students are not just learning, they are also making memories."

Ornament designed by Harrison Strickland.

Shannon Sweat

Shannon Sweat

"Be your best. Give of your best. Live your best life and leave with no 'what ifs'."

Amy Tennison

"It's a good day for a good day!"

Betty Walthall with student

Betty Walthall

"Build a fire of passion and compassion!"

Christie Weaver

Claude Webb

"'Never let the truth, get in the way of a good story.' - Mark Twain"

Susie Webb

Susie Webb

Stacy Wilson

Stacy Wilson

"I find joy in doing life with my MHS family as we serve our students, parents and the community of Melissa. 'Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving'. - Colossians 3:23-24"

Melissa Withers

Julie Wooten

Julie Wooten

"'The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.' - Eleanor Roosevelt"

Kenneth Wooten

Kenneth Wooten

"Run Your Race!"