Teachers of the Year recognized for work inside and outside classrooms
Victoria, Dallas dioceses' teachers honored as Teachers of the Year
Dr. Diana Torres Rivera, who teaches at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas, and Donna Kunz, a faculty member at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Schulenburg, have been tapped by the Texas Catholic Conference Bishops as the 2021 High School Teacher of the Year and Elementary Teacher of the Year, respectively.
High School Teacher of the Year
Dr. Diana Torres Rivera has been a foreign language teacher at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas since 2016 and is the World Language department chair. She currently teaches upper-level Spanish and Spanish Literature courses in grades 8-12. Dr. Torres Rivera believes learning Spanish is not just about speaking, reading, and writing, but also understanding and appreciating the culture. By doing so, students learn not only how to communicate effectively, but are also taught empathy. “It is my hope when a student leaves my classroom they can speak better Spanish, but more importantly, I want them to know themselves better, their strengths especially," Dr. Torres Rivera said. "I want to have chipped away at prejudice, clichés and misconceptions, and I want to have inspired them to connect with more people outside their comfort zone.”
Dr. Torres Rivera is deeply committed to her Catholic faith and is an example to the entire Bishop Dunne community. As the moderator for the student group Latinos Unidos she helps organize the Advent Posada, a joyful celebration of faith and culture. She also arranged for a guest speaker to talk to the group about the immigration crisis at the border and conducted a donation drive for the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen.
Dr. Torres Rivera is the oldest of nine children and was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She received a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic studies from the University of Puerto Rico, and her master's degree and doctorate from the University of Seville in Spain. In her free time, she loves to dance salsa, read, learn watercolor, and go to the park with her three children.
Elementary Teacher of the Year
Donna Kunz is in her 35th year of teaching at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Schulenburg and currently teaches English and Math in grades 6-8. Her energy and enthusiasm for teaching is evident in her pursuit of professional development, the individual attention she gives to students, and the mentorship she provides to her colleagues. Mrs. Kunz attends 20-30 hours annually of continuing education and had been training on Google classroom prior to the pandemic. When the schools closed, she was a leader among the staff, and her knowledge, along with her positive spirit, helped ease the transition to remote learning. In the classroom, she tailors her instruction to meet the individual needs of each student, providing multiple opportunities for success which she celebrates no matter how small.
Mrs. Kunz and her husband are charter members of Friends for Catholic Education, an organization that financially assists families at both St. Rose and Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Hallettsville. She has served as vice-president for many years, helping to make Catholic education more accessible to everyone.
Mrs. Kunz is an alumna of St. Rose of Lima Catholic School and received her bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University. She is married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown, successful children and a seven-month-old granddaughter.