Everyone who works in Mansfield ISD contributes to the education of students. The MISD Shining Star Award puts a spotlight on non-teaching staff members for their exceptional service and contributions to MISD students and staff members.
Three employees were chosen to receive the 2023 Shining Star Award from submissions from the community. This year’s Shining Star Award recipients are Wilson Bwokwanyo from Custodial Services, Payten Smith from Legacy High School and Noe Rodriguez from Transportation.
Wilson Bwokwanyo is lovingly referred to as ‘Mr. Wilson’ by students and staff at Asa Low Intermediate School. He’s a native of Nairobi, Kenya, and holds a master's degree in criminology.
Bwokwanyo served the Kenyan government as a public servant for 25 years where he was the supervisor of a government program that allowed non-custodial offenders to serve their sentences by working with students in schools. It was there that Bwokwanyo discovered his love for assisting in the education of children.
Upon retirement, Bwokwanyo and his wife of 31 years, Beatrice, migrated to the United States where he became the custodian at Asa Low – a place he calls his second home. He is committed to keeping the students’ learning environment clean and conducive to learning and is known for having a heart for students.
“When the students recognize me for my efforts, I walk tall,” Bwokwanyo said.
Payten Smith has attended MISD schools her entire life, beginning at Tarver Rendon Agriculture Leadership Academy and graduating from Legacy High School. Peyton now works for the campus she graduated from, where she loves helping students. When she reflects on her time as a student, she thinks about the statement: we believe we all belong as one.
“Every day the struggles I had getting to class because of my condition, there was someone to say, ‘You can do it, Payten’,” Smith said.
Whenever she wanted to quit or cry because she felt weak, someone was there to encourage her at school. As a Shining Star finalist, Smith feels thankful for the educators who have encouraged her.
“It’s been almost 6 years since June 3, 2017, but I kept living,” Smith said. “I refused to give up. I refused to give out. I refused to give in.”
Noe Rodriguez’s coworkers describe him as kind, pleasant and always willing to help. Noe, a native of Mexico, has worked for Mansfield ISD for five years. Before moving to the United States, he led a hospital nutrition department in his home country. After meeting his wife and moving to Mansfield 12 years ago, Noe worked in the restaurant industry as an assistant manager and sous chef.
He says the best part of his job is the kids. Noe drives students from elementary to high school, and he enjoys elementary students the best because they sing on his bus.
In his spare time, Noe enjoys reading, spending time with his family and visiting Mexico.
The Shining Star Award winners were announced and recognized at the 2023 MISD Employee Awards Banquet on Monday, May 15.