Phoenix Union—Alhambra English teacher Gayle Deaver, Camelback Principal Dr. Chad Gestson; Franklin Police and Fire’s Groundskeeper/custodian Esperanza Prieto and the District’s Dropout Programs Specialist Cyndi Tercero were presented with Phoenix Union High School District 2013 Employee of the Year awards by Superintendent Kent P. Scribner and Governing Board President Randy Schiller at the District’s Opening of Schools Convocation, Tuesday.
When she learned her school was a “D” school Deaver, the Classroom Teacher of the Year, put her foot down, and said, “not on my watch,” according to colleagues. She put her words into action, facilitating Alhambra’s Sophomore English Professional Learning Community. She researched and developed many resources and the team developed strategies to improve student learning, engagement and test scores across the sophomore grade level. They identified and met with the bottom quartile sophomores, arranged meetings with parents, created weekly lessons to prepare for AIMS Reading and Writing, and analyzed District exams to see where the teachers needed to spend more time in instruction. The results: 10th grade AIMS passing rates climbed to 75% in Reading, a 14-point increase from the previous year. Scores were also up in 10th grade Writing and Math and Science. The school moved from a “D” school to a “C” school. Deaver, a Central High graduate, is in her 10th year teaching at Phoenix Union.
Gestson, the Administrator of the Year, has transformed Camelback’s culture in his four years as principal, engaging students, staff and community. He implemented an Advisory Period, an initiative that has been adopted by most of the schools in the District. He requires all students to join a club or sport, complete community service and attend a certain number of campus events a year. He has steadily increased Advanced Placement and Honors classes, instituted extended library hours and piloted a credit-recovery virtual evening school. This year, Camelback had among the highest increases in the District in AIMS Reading, Writing and Math. Students say “he truly has made a difference. He has made everyone more involved at our school. He attends every event and makes me feel special. He connects with students, teachers, parents and community.” His staff says, “He is a leader that inspires everyone around him to do their best for students’ success.” “He has created an atmosphere on this campus that I have not felt in 20 years. Now other teachers are clamoring to get a job here, and outside students want to attend.” This year, he was the only high school principal to be named an Exemplary Principal by the Rodel Foundation, one of seven leaders in the state.
Preito, the Support Staff Employee of the Year, works in one of the oldest buildings in Phoenix Union, but Franklin Police and Fire is also one of the most beautiful facilities, because of her. She is one reason it has been placed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register and the National Register of Historic Places. She oversees campus maintenance and grounds and also builds relationships. She is a mother to hundreds, motivating students to get to class and encouraging them to get grades. “She approaches her work with passion and commitment,” A supervisor said. “Visitors always have high praise for the immaculate beauty of our school, and she is a big part of the recognition it receives.” Prieto, a former custodian at Trevor Browne for six years, is starting her 12th year in the District.
Tercero, the Special Achievement Employee of the Year, oversees school community liaisons and student-parent liaisons, providing student support services. She connects the community with Phoenix Union, developing and maintaining partnerships with agencies, organizations, colleges and universities. She also coordinates the many volunteers who support our students and our schools. She works with parents and students to improve college preparedness and address the challenges associated with dropping out. Tercero is involved in dozens of community organizations, including ASU Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program, Friendly House, Degree Phoenix, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, and COPE (Community, Outreach, Prevention and Education Coalition.) Say, her colleagues: “She is tactful, courteous and respectful to all. We are willing to go beyond the call of duty because she asks us to.” A 20-year veteran of the District, Tercero is also the vice-president of the Classified Employees Association.
Phoenix Union Certified and Support Staff Employees of the Year are selected by a committee of peers, based on nominations made up of school and site Employees of the Year. Phoenix Union employs over 2900 people, including approximately 1650 teachers. The following is a list of Certified and Support Staff Employees of the Year, by school and site.
Alhambra: Gayle Deaver, English Teacher; Lee Ann Greer, Library Assistant
Bioscience: Timothy Boyd , Humanities Teacher
Bostrom: Noel Frazier, Social Worker; Norma Flores, Registration Office Asst.
Trevor Browne: Suzanne Vogt, Social Studies Teacher; Claudia Casas, Translator/Receptionist
Camelback: Jessica Peifer, Math Teacher/Student Govt; Ken Wnuck, Senior Security
Central: Rob Melendez, Social Studies Teacher ; Ricki Council, Senior SPED Office Asst.
Cesar Chavez: Alesa Patterson, Health Teacher; Gilbert Sanchez, Building Maintenance
Desiderata: Amy Steinbugl, Special Education Teacher; Bonnie Hoffman, SPED Assistive Technology Asst.
Betty Fairfax: Josh Wray, Math Teacher; Edith Corona, Assistant to the Principal
Franklin: Gerald Allen, Law Enforcement Instructor; Esperanza Prieto, Maintenance and Grounds
Carl Hayden: Srnka Johnson, Science Teacher; Peter Antone, Cafeteria Manager
Maryvale: Joshua Baker, Science Teacher; Maria Medina, Testing Coordinator
Metro Tech: Mary Throop, SPED Vocational teacher; Eugenia Martins, Custodian
North: Jessica Vensel, Special Education Teacher; Kathy Zabarski, Testing Coordinator;
South Mountain: Guadalupe Meza, Spanish Teacher; Angelica Quihius, Senior Office Assistant
Suns-Diamondbacks: Rachelle Zeitlin, Social Studies Teacher
District Office (CES): Martha Chambers, Articulation Specialist; Cyndi Tercero, Dropout Program Developer
District Facility Services (DSF): Paul Freitas, Refinisher/Paint Specialist