Doris Menchaca awarded Elsie Samuels Early Childhood Educator Excellence Award

By: Debra Ford
| Published 11/19/2020

Shown left to right: Dr. Bobbi Samuels, award recipient Doris Menchaca and Collaborative for Children President and CEO, Dr. Melanie Johnson.
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HOUSTON, TX -- Doris Menchaca, a preschool teacher from Houston Kidz Academy, received an endowed scholarship today from Collaborative for Children as the recipient of the first Elsie Samuels Early Childhood Educator Excellence Award. The award honors an area teacher who works with children 0-5 years of age, exhibiting an exemplary commitment to educating a diverse population of young learners. It was presented by Dr. Melanie Johnson, President and CEO of Collaborative for Children, and Board member, Dr. Bobbi Samuels, whose mother-in-law is the namesake for the award. The scholarship is funded by the Samuels Foundation.

Elsie Samuels was a preschool teacher at Houston’s Jewish Community Center, Congregation Emanu El, and Congregation Beth Israel. Samuels also taught kindergarten in the Houston Independent School District, where she was assigned to a classroom with Spanish-speaking students. Although she did not speak Spanish, Samuels believed in the value of each individual and aimed to make every child feel special and important.

Like Samuels, Menchaca believes in the power of awakening curiosity in every child. Encouraging critical thinking at a young age is vital and Menchaca said that one of the ways she does this is by using science to help expand a child’s ability to think. “Science,” she explained, “is like magic to my students. They think it is the coolest thing ever and I love seeing their reactions to our experiments. Seeing my students enjoy learning and using their critical thinking skills is a great feeling. I am truly honored to accept this award and I hope to use it to pursue a master’s degree in Education,” added Menchaca.

The Elsie Samuels Early Childhood Educator Excellence Award is supported by her daughter-in-law and son, Bobbi, and the late Vic Samuels, of Houston. “I think that Elsie would have been so proud to be here today to see that her legacy is very much alive in our young teachers like Doris Menchaca,” remarked Samuels.

“We are so grateful to the Samuels family for honoring Elsie Samuels’ legacy with this educator excellence award,” stated Johnson. “Teachers are often one of the greatest influencers on a young child’s mind, shaping his or her future. We need many more teachers like Doris in this world,” added Johnson.

To learn more about the work of Collaborative for Children, visit collabforchildren.org

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