EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)- The Socorro Independent School District announced its top two educators at its 2023 Teacher of the Year Gala on Friday, May 5 at the El Paso Convention Center.

Over 1,200 SISD teachers, family members and special guests attended the Cinco de Mayo-themed celebration, which recognized the top two district winners along with all 49 campus teachers of the year, including the Elite 8 finalists.

Kindergarten teacher at Lujan-Chavez Middle School, Arleen Parada, was named the 2023 SISD Elementary Teacher of the year, and Phillip Chase, an eighth-grade science teacher at SSG Manuel R. Puentes Middle School, was named the 2023 SISD Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Parada and Chase were selected for this award for their outstanding performances inspiring their students to take the many opportunities SISD offers for lifelong success.

Parada has taught at Lujan-Chavez for six years and is a UTEP Teacher Residency mentor. She dedicated her award to her 22 kinder stars. She also said she was also honored to share the spotlight with the other Elite 8 nominees and all the other campus teachers of the year.

“I’m honored and humbled,” Parada said. “Team SISD is amazing, and I can’t wait to showcase the wonderful things that we do.”

For more than 20 years, Chase has encouraged his students to make good decisions in life. During the awards ceremony, he said he ran into a former student who is now a teacher at Eastlake High School. He also recalled how his fellow Elite 8 nominee Eric J. Williams Jr. was also one of his students.

“The best thing about teaching is definitely the relationship that I get with my students,” Chase said. “Being able to see them succeed and seeing their lives change so much in one year is the biggest reward that I can ever get as a teacher.”

Outside the classroom, Chase coaches softball, track and baseball and helps with other programs.

Both winners received a glass sculpture in the shape of a flame, which represents the energy and fire of curiosity that every student possesses. This award commemorates SISD’s teachers’ unwavering commitment as keepers of the flame, according to a news release sent out by the district.

The teacher of the year award is among the highest honors that an educator can receive. Winners proceed to the regional level, and they have the opportunity to advance to state.

Additionally, Parada and Chase will represent Team SISD at the Region 19 Teacher of the Year program in the summer.