Teachers Win Long Haul Award


Derek Lee

Aquatic Science and head golf coach Jeff Mudd teaches his Aquatic science class. Mudd feels accomplished for receiving the award.

Elaine Liu, Co-Print Managing Editor

In celebration of Tompkins’s ten-year anniversary, the school’s administration has bestowed the Long Haul Award to select teachers who have taught at the campus since its inception. Beginning in January 2022, four teachers each month have experienced the surprise and gratification of receiving the Long Haul Award; their decade-long commitment to the school has allowed them to create its community, moral standards, and traditions– all while watching Tompkins grow throughout the last decade. Aquatic Science teacher and head golf coach Jeff Mudd received the Long Haul Award in January 2023.

“I felt a sense of accomplishment when hearing that I was going to receive the award,” said Mudd. “Many teachers that I respect and look up to had already received it, so I was ready to join them as winners.”

Mudd grew up in Houston and graduated from Stratford High School before attending Texas Tech University. He earned a degree in Multidisciplinary Science and taught at Travis High School and George Ranch High School and in 2013, helped open Tompkins. Within his time at the school, Mudd feels most accomplished for having 11 college signees for golf.

“It takes a tremendous amount of time and hard work for the golfers to accomplish this and I am proud to have played a role in helping them realize their dreams,” said Mudd. “Being the head golf coach is not as glamorous as it sounds. It is a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work as well.”

French teacher Melissa Pauletti also received the Long Haul Award in January 2023, an honor to Pauletti and her ten years at Tompkins. Pauletti is originally from Chicago; she holds undergraduate degrees in French and Political Science, and a Masters in French Language and Literature. From the moment she stepped into the classroom as a graduate teaching assistant, Pauletti knew she wanted to be a teacher, a commitment she has followed through with ever since and at Tompkins.

“I think that the many core values that were started when the school opened still hold true today. I particularly like ‘Falcon Pride’ and ‘It’s a great day to be a Falcon,’” said Pauletti. “Being a part of Tompkins for so many years has instilled pride in me as it has become my second home.”

Throughout her ten years at Tompkins, Pauletti has enjoyed watching students build interest in the French language and francophone culture. Although it sometimes proves difficult to serve as Tompkins’s sole French teacher, watching her students grow over the years motivates Pauletti to continue sharing her knowledge.

“I can see improvement throughout the school year and I get excited when students begin to share my interests and love of the language,” said Pauletti.

Despite the changes at Tompkins, Mudd holds faith in the school and the students. He anticipates the campus and its academic quality to only improve as it sends prepared students into the greater world. Tompkins will always impress Mudd and he feels enthusiastic about the school’s future.

“I look forward to more success stories and seeing these kids’ accomplishments as they graduate,” said Mudd. “Tompkins is a very difficult school academically, but that pays off post-graduation as our students are prepared for whatever happens next.”


List of all Long Haul Award Winners

August 2021

  • Marco Jimenez (Head Custodian)
  • Anna Magdallan (Head Custodian)

September 2021

  • Katy Agiannidis (Physical Education/Head Softball)
  • Eric Mikolajczhak (Science/Assistant Football)

October 2021

  • Ryan Labay (Associate Principal)
  • Ashley Park (English/English Department Chair/NHS)

November 2021

  • Remona Clark (Head Counselor)
  • Katy Sheffield (Agriculture)

December 2021

  • Anne Fazinni (English)

January 2022

  • Judith Laya (ESL Aide)
  • Jarred Darensbourg (Math/Assistant Football/Assistant Girls Basketball)

February 2022

  • Shetye Cypher (Newspaper/Journalism/Yearbook)
  • Lauri Crestani (Math/Math Department Chair)

March 2022

  • Victoria Wernau (Science)
  • Christin Sears (Choir Director)

April 2022

  • Caroline McCleland (Drop-Out Prevention)
  • Stephen Bond (Band Director)

May 2022

  • Rosey Fortenberry (Director – Cavalettes/Dance)
  • Jarrett Shipman (Social Studies/Head Girls Soccer)

September 2022

  • Tom Jones (Health/Head Boys Soccer)
  • Kyle Humphreys (Math/Head Baseball)
  • Yolanda Clarke (English Instructional Coach)
  • Diana Franklin (Spanish)

October 2022

  • Matthew Porter (Orchestra Director)
  • Allison Merrell (PALS/Head Volleyball)
  • Bobby Sanders (Professional Communications/Head Boys Basketball)
  • Brita Valadez (CTE Department Chair/Family Consumer Science)

December 2022

  • Chester Hahn (Engineering)
  • Kristi Olenius (Math Instructional Coach)
  • Tammy Ray (Assistant Athletic Coordinator/Head Girls Basketball/PE)
  • Heinz Schmidt (German)

January 2023

  • Shane Weaston (Math/Assistant Baseball/Assistant Football)
  • Jeff Mudd (Science/Head Golf)
  • Jason Tully (Computer Science)
  • Melissa Pauletti (French)