Triebel named State Bar of Texas Jaworski Award winner

    Mavis Triebel came to become involved in government through the love she had for her children. Now, years later, some of that love is being returned.

    Triebel, a professor of government at Lamar State College Port Arthur, has been chosen by the State Bar of Texas as the 2018 recipient of the Leon Jaworski Award. This prestigious state-wide award recognizes individuals or groups for their outstanding contribution to Law Focused Education in the state of Texas.

    Triebel has led the LSCPA-sponsored Citizen Bee competition for the past 30 years, a contest that tests high school students on their knowledge of government, law and current events.
    Jaworski is a Texas attorney whose greatest fame came as a Special Prosecutor during the Watergate scandal. He was also an ardent volunteer, which inspired the annual Jaworski Award.

    “Your dedication and support of the Texas Citizen Bee both as the coordinator for Region 5 and as the proctor for the state competition every spring has been invaluable,” said Kevin Vela, chair of the Jaworski Law Focused Education Committee. “Your work with the Region 5 community has created a model regional competition as you have involved not only the students and their schools but have provided opportunities for the local community to participate in the experience and see the great work of the students.”

    As a wife and mother, Triebel found herself eager to represent her children in public school-related issues. She was unswervingly dedicated to her three daughters and making sure they received the best education possible. Triebel served on the Port Arthur ISD school board and president of every PTA in the district. She eventually earned state and national awards for her participation in the PTA. She also served on the Port Arthur City Council.

    “My children have always been my first priority and so getting involved was really natural,” Triebel said. “I felt responsible for their success and for the success of all the students of the Port Arthur school district.”

    Once her daughters graduated and moved on with their lives, Triebel found time to pursue a college degree for herself. She started at Lamar State College Port Arthur, then moved to Lamar University where a professor there pointed out a fact that she now says should have been obvious.

    “He told me I needed to be a government instructor,” she said. “And he was right. I had been training in that field for years already. It just made sense.

    “I had seen the process first hand and I knew I could offer something more than just textbook examples of what government is really all about,” she said.

    Along the way, Triebel picked up a special assignment that would change her life.

    Her first taste of the Citizen Bee competition came nearly 30 years ago at LSCPA when she sat in as a competition judge. The next year, she took charge of the event.

    “I loved the intensity of the competition,” she said. “These students are very dedicated. It’s important to them and they work very hard to win.”

    For nearly three decades, Triebel has seen high school students pass through her regional competition, held at LSCPA each spring, and move on to state-wide accolades. A representative from the LSCPA competition has won state each of the past 12 years until that string was broken at the 2018 state meet.

    “I see these students who are 16 or 17 years old and they walk to the microphone with such poise, such confidence,” she said. “They know their material and it’s amazing to see them compete.”

    The Gibson family has especially been impacted by the Citizen Bee and Triebel’s mentorship through the program.

    “Our family has been so blessed by Mavis's steadfast commitment to the Citizen Bee competition. My kids have learned so much that would not have been imparted through a regular classroom setting,” Cristey Gibson said. “Because of her commitment and the competition, my kids are well-informed, civic-minded, and active in the political process.”

    The Gibson children, who all graduated from Acorns to Oaks Academy in Damon, Texas, located just southwest of Houston, have earned top spots at the state Citizen Bee competition. The eldest, Garrett, first competed at LSCPA in spring 2002. He is now an attorney. The youngest of the five Gibson children, Nate, will compete as a high school freshman in 2019.

    “I love all my students,” Triebel said. “They become my children, my friends. When I see them all over this community, it’s such a pleasure to hear their stories about what they’ve accomplished.”

    Triebel, winner of the coveted Piper Professor Award in 2012, will be recognized as the Jaworski Award winner at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting on June 21, 2018.

    Her three daughters will join her for the ceremony.

    “When I received the Jaworski Award, I got flowers from my middle daughter,” Triebel said. “In the card it said ‘Mom, You’re a Piper and now a Jaworski Award winner. How are you going to top this?’ When I read it, I just bawled.

    “This award, the decision to teach government, my dedication to Citizen Bee,” she said, “it can all be traced back to when I was out there representing my children. Love really is the greatest motivator.”