Every year the Bellaire High School PTO honors two educators with Teacher of the Year awards. The PTO organizes a student ballot to select a New Teacher, one who has fewer than three years experience, and an Established Teacher, one with more than three years experience.
This year there was a tie in the category of Teacher with More Than 3 Years Experience.
Ninth grade English teacher Aaron Proctor and College Prep Geography and AP World History teacher Kate Nocca shared the honor. College Prep Biology teacher Abigail DeCerbo was selected as the Teacher of the Year with Fewer Than Three Years Experience.
Proctor graduated from California State University, San Bernardino with a degree in English-Creative Writing in 2006. After graduation, he moved to Houston and began his career at Bellaire teaching 12th grade English. Soon he moved to 9th grade English and has been teaching freshmen ever since. He is also the Assistant Head Basketball Coach and the Defensive Backs coach with the football team.
Nocca graduated from Liverpool University and started her teaching career in East Africa. The peripatetic Nocca has taught in a total of four continents.
“I have been teaching for over 30 years and have loved (virtually) every minute of it,” Nocca said. “I started my career in London but soon moved to Tanzania in East Africa where I worked for four years. From there it was ‘no going back.’ My next posting was in the Middle East and then on to nine years in Paris. By this time I had two children so that when I ended up in Houston I suppose my travelling days were numbered. I started my time here with an 11–year stint at Awty International School and then on to Bellaire.”
Nocca arrived in Houston in 1990. She still comes to school with a smile on her face each morning.
“This is a great school. The students I teach never cease to impress me with their intelligence, dedication and good humor,” Nocca said. “Every morning I get up and look forward to the day ahead in the classroom. Every student is special and I do my best to prove that to them. I impart some knowledge and try to be a good role model but I get so much back in return it doesn’t seem like hard work.”
While DeCerbo qualifies as a “new” teacher for the PTO award, she has been in the classroom for more than a decade. DeCerbo was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States when she was two years old. She grew up in Northeast New Jersey, graduated valedictorian of her high school and married her high school sweetheart. She has a BA in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. After teaching one year of Kindergarten at a private school, DeCerbo got her alternate certification in Secondary Science Education in New Jersey.
“I have been teaching for 11 years, and I have been in several school districts in Texas and in New Jersey. It only took my first day at Bellaire High School to know what an amazing community of students, faculty and staff they have here,” DeCerbo said. “The students are enthusiastic, prepared and ready to learn each and every day and I work with a great department of intelligent, hardworking, dedicated teachers.”
DeCerbo is now in her third year of teaching CP Biology at Bellaire.