On August 17, Texas Baptists announced the winners of the 2020 Baptist Educators Serving Texans (B.E.S.T.). The award celebrates Christian educators who are living out their faith daily among their students and the Texas Baptists institutions that taught them. Nine award recipients were selected, one from each Texas Baptist educational university.
Recipients are Margarita Garcia, a graduate of Baptist University of the Americas; Deborah Wagner, a graduate of Baylor University; Haley Briggs, a graduate of Dallas Baptist University; Jessica Sullens, a graduate of East Texas Baptist University; Shana Culp, a graduate of Hardin-Simmons University; Carla Stutts, a graduate of Houston Baptist University; Andrea Harp, a graduate of Howard Payne University; Tammy Barrack, a graduate of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor; and Mike Manchee, a graduate of Wayland Baptist University.
The award process was coordinated by Chris Liebrum and the Office of Cooperative Program Ministry. This annual award is presented to select Texas Baptists institution graduates who currently serve in faculty or administration roles in the Texas Public School System and are a member of a church supportive of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT). One graduate is selected from each institution.
It is estimated that graduates from these universities represent 6-8% of the over 357,000 public school educators in Texas.
“Many of our nine BGCT-affiliated universities have been preparing Texas public school teachers for over 100 years. We are delighted to recognize these nine educators whose lives are daily the presence of Christ in the mission fields of our Texas public schools,” Liebrum said. “These educators are being the presence of Christ to many who may never walk through the doors of a church. We also celebrate the generosity of our churches whose Cooperative Program giving has helped support these institutions.”
Award recipients will be honored during the Celebration Service of the 2020 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting on November 17 at 6 p.m. The service will be streamed at txb.org/am and on Texas Baptists’ Facebook page.
Four evaluators assisted in the selection process including Kathleen Hardage, Nancy Lawrence, Robert Morrison and Sylvia Villareal.