Donna Lemley, Blanca Sanchez and Karen Schwind were honored by the New Braunfels ISD Board of Trustees as the 2023 Silver Unicorn recipients. They were recognized during a special reception and at the regular monthly school board meeting on Monday, April 3.
The Silver Unicorn award is intended to provide appropriate recognition of individuals in the community who have rendered outstanding service to the children and youth of the New Braunfels Independent School District. Since 1965, this award has been one of distinction and special honor from the District.
New Braunfels High School teacher Donna Lemley is a shining example of what a Silver Unicorn Recipient exemplifies. She works tirelessly for the students and parents of NBISD, and has taught at both the elementary and secondary levels during the past 26 years.
Her years of service and experience include helping the most vulnerable and challenging students.
According to several of her nominators, she consistently demonstrates that she is an expert at giving these students a sense of purpose, determination, and focus. Not only does she provide them resources, but she helped create these resources so students had the opportunity to see the world around them.
As the teacher in charge of the credit recovery lab at NBHS, Lemley sets high expectations for productivity and behavior, and the kids cooperate because they know she cares about them.
According to her daughter, Lemley sees people for who they are. Loves them entirely, and becomes the missing puzzle piece they need to solve their problems. She even recalls one time when she was in middle school that her mother brought home a student’s laundry to wash because “you can’t learn well in dirty clothes.”
Simply stated, she makes her colleagues and all the students whose lives she touches better.
Born and raised in New Braunfels as a life-long Unicorn, Blanca Sanchez began her work for NBISD in 2012 as a member of the custodial staff at New Braunfels High School. She later transferred to the Education Center building, where she worked until retirement in 2018 – the same year her husband passed.
In 2019, she began volunteering at Maria’s Closet, which serves our district’s most at-need student population and their families.
Despite never receiving a dime of compensation, or expecting it, Sanchez washes, irons or steams, and organizes all clothing donations, as well other items donated to Maria’s Closet.
When visiting Maria’s Closet, students and families are equipped with whatever is needed to meet their needs. This simple act of kindness helps keep them in school and assists them in finding success in the classroom – all due to her countless time and effort. She truly defines what it means to have a servant’s heart.
For the past four years, she has volunteered hundreds of hours in this capacity. It is difficult to find someone so selfless to serve others in the way she serves the students and families of NBISD.
Karen Schwind has worked for NBISD for the last 27 years and has been the Health Services Coordinator for 17 years.
As education and health are interrelated, she has fiercely supported student and staff health. She consistently advocates for what is best for students, including immunization education, school safety and security, chronic health education, and encouraging healthy habits for all.
Schwind has successfully brought the importance of health to the forefront of education so staff can empower students to be engaged in learning. In her current role, she became the link between education and health. She always says, “Healthy students make better learners.”
During the summer, when most school nurses take a long break, she works as a nurse at a summer camp. Her love for kids has no boundaries.
She radiates a contagious passion, has undoubtedly motivated students, families, and fellow nurses in many ways, and has changed countless lives. Her legacy will continue through her interactions and knowledge shared amongst the staff.
To her, the most important thing is that the kids are taken care of.
For more information about this awards program, visit the Silver Unicorn web page.