The NBISD Education Foundation has inducted three new members as Distinguished Alumni during their annual banquet held Sept. 14 at the McKenna Events Center. This year’s honorees include: Denise (Diaz) Ortiz, Atanacio “Nacho” Campos, and Carolyn (Fey) Phelan.
The three distinguished alumni were also honored during halftime at the varsity football game against Pflugerville Weiss on Sept. 16.
Atanacio “Nacho” Campos – Class of 1967
Nacho has deep roots in New Braunfels as the story begins in 1910 with his grandfather who he was named after. His grandfather, Atanacio Contreras Campos, fled the Mexican Revolution and landed in New Braunfels.
Nacho graduated from New Braunfels High School in 1967. Upon high school graduation, Nacho received a scholarship to attend Schreiner Military Institute, now known as Schreiner University. He earned an Associate in Arts Degree and then transferred to the University of Texas where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history. It was then that Nacho enrolled in law school at UT. He completed both a master’s degree in history and his law degree during that time. He later worked for the Travis County District Attorney before beginning a 40+ year career in private practice. He is still currently practicing law.
Nacho most likely is known for serving as a Trustee on the Board of New Braunfels Utilities for over 20 years, serving as president and vice president. For his service to NBU, Nachos received the Robert H. Spohn, P.E., Public Service Award that recognizes individuals whose work helped ensure and advance the communities best interests. Nacho has also served on the City of New Braunfels’ Workforce Housing and Bond Advisory Committee, the American Public Power Association Policy Makers Council, New Braunfels Impact Fee Advisory Board and the New Braunfels Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. He also served for nine years as a Trustee on the Board of Schreiner University.
In 2020, the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce honored Nacho with Honors Hall Recognition for his extraordinary civic contributions, and in 2021 the New Braunfels Foundation Trust named him a Living Legend.
Nacho is married to Sara Dixon. He has three children, Andres, Brian and Jennifer.
Carolyn (Fey) Phelan – Class of 1985
Carolyn graduated from New Braunfels High School in 1985, and was a member of the Mighty Unicorn Band among many other groups and clubs including: Society for Range Management International High School Youth Range Forum; Texas Section Society for Range Management Youth Range Workshop Junior Director (1984); Comal County Fair Queen (1983-1984); Farm Bureau Citizenship Summer Seminar and a Top 10 graduate in the Class of 1985 (10). Carolyn graduated from Texas A&M University in College Station in three and a half years with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Range Science.
Carolyn and her husband, Howard Phelan, have been married for 34 years and have three children, Sandee, Brad and Kimberly. Carolyn chose to be a devoted Army wife and mother and managed the family household as they lived in six different states while Howard was on active duty.
Over time, she worked for the US Army Corp of Engineers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where she worked to identify plants in all of the training areas. While in Lampasas, Carolyn was the Parish Administrator for the Catholic Church for five years. She also taught cake decorating for Wilton Industries for a few years and now teaches various groups and individuals on a voluntary basis.
Carolyn also has served for many organizations locally and across the country. She has been awarded the Comal County Aggie Moms’ Life Member Award (2022); Comal County 4-H Alumni Award; Lampasas County 4-H Volunteer of the Year; District 7 4-H Volunteer of the Year; Wilton Cake Decorating Teacher of the Year for the Western Territory (1996), and Volunteer of the Year at Fort Leavenworth.
Denise (Diaz) Ortiz – Class of 1991
Denise was born and raised in New Braunfels, where she attended Lone Star, Carl Schurz, and Seele Elementary schools, New Braunfels Middle School, and she was a 1991 graduate of New Braunfels High School. While at NBHS, Denise was a member of athletic teams and student organizations. She holds her time as a Unicorn student close to her heart. In high school, Denise was a teen mom. She had a difficult time not knowing how people would react to her pregnancy, and at times she felt ashamed and embarrassed. But two teachers, Mrs. Sharon Zillman and Mrs. Patsy Vann, made a deep impression on her and gave her the confidence to persevere.
After high school, Denise attended Southwest Texas State University with the intent on earning a nursing degree. Due to time constraints, she decided it was more conducive to finish her education at Southwest Texas by getting her degree in Biology. While in college, she worked at McKenna Memorial Hospital and substitute taught at New Braunfels High School, and that experience led her to her ultimate career path in education, where she decided to teach secondary science. In 2011, Denise earned her Master’s Degree in Multidisciplinary Science from the University of the Incarnate Word and this past Spring, she received her Certification in Principalship from Lamar University.
Denise has just started her 25th year at New Braunfels High School, where she is an AP Environmental Science teacher. She’s also the faculty sponsor of the Unicorn Handlers and coordinates the Annual Spring Fling Event. Denise has been on the College Board Testing Development Committee and Table Reader for AP Environmental Science since 2014, served as an EcoRise Fellow and Ambassador from 2017-2021, has been a member of the National Science Teachers Association since 2004, and has been a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Water Monitor since 2004. Denise’s awards include Campus Teacher of the Year at NBHS and District Secondary Teacher of the Year (2021-2022) – currently a Regional Teacher of the Year Finalist for Region 20; Lamar B. Mirabeau Educational Excellence Award (2018); NBHS Teacher of the Month (2016); NBHS Campus Teacher of the Year and District Secondary Teacher of the Year (2013-2014); Beyond the Walls Award (2011-2012); NBHS Student Council Teacher of the Month (2011); NBHS Teacher of the Month (2010); and a Model Classroom Grant Winner (2004).
Denise is married to her high school sweetheart, Rey, and they are exceptionally proud of their daughter, Liz, who along with her husband Carlos, welcomed Elias Carlos Ferman into the world just this summer. Denise enjoys spending time with her new grandson, Eli, as well as her family and friends.