HEB Texas Loves Teachers Tour stops in Willis to show teacher appreciation

photo or infographic by Emily Meachen
HERE EVERY IS BETTER. HEB Buddy waves at the cars as the teachers and staff drive through the HEB Texas Loves Teachers Tour.

Balloons. Bubbles. A DJ spinning pop tunes and the Sweethearts and cheerleaders dancing to the music. It was a pep rally, but there were no athletes being recognized. The focus was on loving Willis’s teachers. The cheers and hoopla were about celebrating all teachers do every day.

The HEB Texas Loves Teachers Tour stopped at Berton A. Yates Stadium to show their appreciation for the teachers and staff Monday afternoon.

“A few weeks ago the Education Foundation did a big social media push to get our Willis community to vote for Willis ISD to win a stop on the HEB Texas Loves Teachers,” Willis ISD Community Involvement Liaison Michelle Bishof said. “About three weeks after voting ended, HEB notified us we won. “

Willis was chosen by HEB because of all the attention on social media.

“You have a lot of love and support in social’s media,” Martha Barrera, a representative of the HEB Public Affairs department, said. “Willis got the most votes in this area.”

HEB has been honoring teachers for 20 years with their Excellence in Education program. They added the bus tour this year to show teachers extra love.

“We will make 11 stops in the Houston region,” Lisa Helfman, director of public affairs of the Houston HEB, said. “I think teachers are working harder now than ever before. They are working so hard and going through so much. We love our teachers every year, but this year we are saying thank you bigger than ever.”

Around 600 bags were distributed to the teachers who drove through to the cheers of the administration and HEB representatives. Other bags were reserved for teachers who are in quarantine.

“After I picked up my daughter at Turner, we drove through,” math teacher Michele Adkison said. “I rolled down the window for her to see the band, cheerleaders, sweethearts  and other participants. We had a blast seeing everyone.”

The bags distributed contained cookies, a mask, goodies like pens and lanyards and a booklet of coupons for freebies at HEB.

“It was so fun to see all the kiddos and people in our community show up for us,” cosmetology teacher Katie Hepler said. “I didn’t expect the band, cheerleaders and Sweethearts, but was so glad to see my students’ familiar faces. We got cookies which my kids ate on the way home and a coupon book full of free items that I will definitely use.”

The overall party atmosphere was appreciated by the teachers and staff members.

“I was pleasantly surprised to see ALL the employees waiting in line,” special education support staff member Michelle Brown said. “The line moved very quickly. Everyone was happy  and excited to see us. Lots of smiles and excitement everywhere.”

Members of the band, sweethearts and cheerleaders were at the pep rally, showing their support for their teachers past and present. 

“The cheerleaders had the opportunity to be at the HEB pep rally because they embody the school spirit,” junior Mady Feist said. “It was a really fun experience, and the whole pep environment really encourages school spirit.” 

The event was a hit, and as the teacher drove through the pep rally, they showed their appreciation to all who made it possible. 

“All Willis ISD staff have gone above and beyond over the last 15 months during unprecedented times and deserve to be spoiled,” Bishof said. “I saw one staff member who yelled  ‘This is awesome’ while driving through, and her face was full of JOY. That is why we did it, for our staff to feel appreciated.”