With over 40 years of teaching experience, WISD Culinary Arts Instructor Melba Tijerina easily surpasses any requirement for a lifetime achievement award. Tijerina joins top educators from across the state of Texas who were recently selected as finalists for the 2024 HEB Excellence in Education awards program.
“It’s part of our pillars,” HEB Public Affairs Specialist Audrey Treviño said. “We’re ensuring that we continue to honor our public educators.”
HEB representatives along with HEBuddy stopped by Tijerina’s classroom to present a $1000 check to her and her campus, Weslaco High School.
“I am overwhelmed,” Tijerina said. “How can you grasp this, it’s impossible. It’s very important that my students are a part of this.”
Her students have been at the forefront since Tijerina first joined WISD.
Tijerina began her career 22 years ago as a Family and Consumer Science teacher at South Palm Gardens High School. The class was absorbed by the fledgling Culinary Arts program that consisted of 30 students on half days. This program now encompasses a four-year curriculum and 200 students thanks to Tijerina’s leadership and direction.
“I get a lot of my drive and passion from my students,” she said.
As a finalist for the Lifetime Achievement – Secondary Award, Tijerina may win a $25,000 cash award for herself and a $25,000 grant for her school. Tijerina was part of 1,900 educators who were nominated for the HEB Education in Excellence Awards. The group was narrowed to 150 and after serval panel reviews, Tijerina was named one of five finalists.
Tijerina has already put the $1000 grant to good use.
“We just purchased an expresso machine for the mobile café,” she said.
A mobile café is just the latest project Tijerina has added to the Culinary Arts program. The mobile café is an offshoot of the Young Chef’s Café which is operating from Weslaco’s city library.
As a finalist, Tijerina is set to travel to Houston in May for the awards presentation. One elementary and one secondary teacher will be selected from each of the three categories: The Rising Star Award, Leadership Award and Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tijerina is no stranger to teacher accolades.
Tijerina was named 2006-07 SPGHS Teacher of the Year and WISD Secondary Teacher of the Year. She was also selected as the Region I Secondary Teacher of the Year.
“This HEB award is special to me,” Tijerina said. “It happened with my students being present. That’s why I’m here.”