District Quill

September 23, 2020Teacher and Staff Features and Patriot Day Celebrations (AZ and NV)


Teacher of the Month (September): Alisa Bryant (Kindergarten Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: Alisa embodies “Lynx Stand Together” – she is constantly sharing and using creative solutions to support the school community.

Staff of the Month (September): Janelle Smith (Registrar) 

Reason Nominated: For working overtime to ensure all student program changes, withdrawals and enrollments are processed, not to mention assisting other campus registrars. She is intentional to reach out if you look like you need to talk.



Teacher of the Month (August): Shaun Loveday (Sixth Grade Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: Mr. Loveday has been helping out so many different people and trying to help two new teachers. He wants to do his best and works hard each day to do that. He’s been a great lead. 

Staff of the Month (August): Lalaine Cusi (Registrar) 

Reason Nominated: Lalaine has been working so hard to help with attendance, enrollment and schedules. She has had very complex tasks in organizing students into red and blue groups and she’s been amazing through all of it.


Casa Grande

Teacher of the Month (August): Vanessa Garcia (Special Education Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: Vanessa is new to our special education department. She is such an asset to our campus and is a true joy. She has built relationships with her students as well as the staff and we are so happy to have her join the Eagle Family!

Staff of the Month (August): Cari Toussaint (Registrar) 

Reason Nominated: Registrar Extraordinaire! Works tirelessly to make sure we are in compliance and have students in our buildings and online. She is the keeper of the files and knows all things PowerSchool. 



Teacher of the Month (September): Tressa Hanger (PE Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: For assisting around campus whenever and wherever needed. 

Staff of the Month (September): Victor Casiano (Facilities Manager) 

Reason Nominated: For hustling around the campus to ensure that everyone has what they need when they need it and going above and beyond.


East Mesa

Teacher of the Month (August): Mrs. Kosier (Kindergarten Teacher)

Reason Nominated: For being a great leader!

Staff of the Month (August): Amanda Nowell (Registrar)

Reason Nominated: For working so hard on enrollment.



Teacher of the Month (August): Stacy Phillips (Fourth Grade Teacher)

Reason Nominated: She always goes above and beyond to ensure her students and fourth grade team have what they need. Stacy finds the positive in each situation and approaches each challenge with a solution-based mindset. Legacy Gilbert would not be the same without Stacy’s dedication to our Grizzly students and staff. 

Staff of the Month (August): Ragan Mooney (Program Paraprofessional – recently promoted to Permanent Substitute)

Reason Nominated: No job is too big for Ragan. Ragan is willing to help out wherever needed on campus and has a way of working with children that is to be admired. We cannot thank Ragan enough for her willingness to lend a helping hand and go with the flow during such unsteady times.



Teacher of the Month (August): Sara Mitchell (Second Grade Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: For doing all the normal duties of a second grade teacher and being the lead teacher to help our new kindergarten team.

Staff of the Month (August): Ryan Tokarski (Facilities Team Member) 

Reason Nominated: For working hard to clean our playground between each class recess throughout the day. He does it with a smile and is a great new addition to our facilities team. 



Teacher of the Month (August): Michelle Carrillo (Fifth Grade Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: She was nominated for being a leader and willing to help anyone at the drop of a hat. She always has a sense of calm patience about her which makes her highly approachable.

Staff of the Month (August): Jennifer Zortman (Secretary) 

Reason Nominated: She is a great resource and is always so helpful. Her smile is welcoming to all who enter and work at our campus.



Teacher of the Month (August): Noemi Garcia (Spanish Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: Noemi is a collaborative team player. She is always going above and beyond helping all members on campus. She is patient, kind, and a great role model for all students.  

Staff of the Month (August): Vanessa Guzman (ESS Aide) 

Reason Nominated: Vanessa is helpful in all areas on our Legacy campus. Always willing to step up and do extra tasks. Kind, helpful, and always showing 212-degree spirit. 



Teacher of the Month (August): Tiffany Voyles (Kindergarten Teacher)

Reason Nominated: Tiffany is currently our AM kindergarten teacher. She’s stepped in to take our PM kindergarten position when needed without any hesitation. She is our kindergarten lead and does an exceptional job. She is positive and supportive of our team. During our fourth quarter virtual school, Tiffany took students on a virtual tour of her brother’s ranch in Northern Arizona and continues to be creative with her teaching.

Staff of the Month (August): Sara Nanny (SPED Paraprofessional)

Reason Nominated: Sara has been going above and beyond in assisting our general education staff with their modifications. She has been working on these after-hours and also for many hours before school starts, to help our teachers. Sara has worked closely with our ESS teachers and continues to provide great support for our students, while doing so with a positive attitude. Her efforts are greatly appreciated by our staff.


North Chandler

Teacher of the Month (August): Ruth Resetar (Seventh and Eighth Grade English/Literature Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: She was nominated for going above and beyond with her morning duties helping the kindergarten students get to their classrooms. She is so sweet and friendly with the young students and made them feel comfortable as they started out the new school year. 

Staff of the Month (August): Olivia Martinez (Health Assistant) 

Reason Nominated: She was nominated for being so flexible with all the policy changes in the health department, and always being so kind and patient with the students and families that we serve.


North Valley

Teacher of the Month (August): LaToya Mills (First Grade Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: This year has started off rocky but Ms. Mills has taken on being a virtual teacher amazingly. She is there for her students and parents at all times and does it without missing a step. She is well-deserving of Teacher of the Month. 

Staff of the Month (August): Dawn Marsh (Registrar) 

Reason Nominated: Dawn Marsh is a very hard-working, dedicated employee, who has taken on her new role as North Valley Registrar with flying colors. She is by far the best registrar that we could have asked for and deserves to be our Staff of the Month.


Northwest Tucson

Legacy Northwest Tucson did not have a teacher and staff of the month, however, on Patriots Day, they honored their registrar Teresa’s husband Darin (who is a fire chief) for his 28 years of fire service. Below is an excerpt from the speech Ardemis Martin gave in his honor:

Today we have the honor of celebrating Tucson Fire Department’s Deputy Chief of Safety, Darin Wallentine. I have known Darin for many years and have always known he is a stand-up guy. I always knew that about him, but it really hit home three years ago at my father-in-law’s funeral. You see, I married into a firefighting family, and the day we laid Tucson Fire Department Captain John D. Martin to rest, there was Darin and his wife Teresa. The church was filled with firefighters, but one that stuck out to me was Darin. He didn’t have to come, but he did, because that is what police and fire do. They support their brothers and sisters till the end.

On that day three years ago, I had the honor of escorting my father-in-law in the last alarm fire truck, a fire truck that is dedicated to carrying firefighters to their final resting place. While in the fire truck, I was taken aback by all of the cars that pulled over on the road to salute my father-in-law on his last call. That day showed me the true respect and pride that we as Americans have for our first responders.

Darin, it is with true respect, pride and gratitude that we thank you.”



Teacher of the Month (August): Ms. Geith (PE Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: She showed amazing flexibility during a time of great need on our campus. Normally an amazing PE coach, Ms. Geith stepped up to fill in for a second grade vacancy until we could get that spot filled. She helped get the classroom organized and ready for a new teacher, and then took over for a teacher on leave in a first grade classroom. She never hesitates to jump in and help out wherever she is needed. She does it with a smile on her face and no complaint!

Staff of the Month (August): Mrs. Williams (Secretary) 

Reason Nominated: Mrs. Williams, our staff of the month, is the smiling face you see when you walk in the front door. She was chosen because she is always ready with a kind word, a joke to make you laugh out loud, or just her bright and ready smile! Anytime someone needs cheering up, you know where to go! 


Phoenix Elementary School 

Teacher of the Month (August): Meagan Wiersma (Math Specialist) 

Reason Nominated: Meagan Wiersma is our math specialist and was voted teacher of the month because she jumps in and supports our students and our campus any way she can.  She took on a junior high SEI elective when we had a need arise, she has implemented a campus-wide engaging math challenge program, and she even signed up to do live ELA sessions for our online students.

Staff of the Month (August): Lauren Berg (Instructional Coach) 

Reason Nominated: Lauren Berg is a brand new Instructional Coach this year and she has been working tirelessly to help teachers with everything they need, especially Schoology and online learning.


Phoenix Middle School

Teacher of the Month (August): Michelle McFarland (Seventh Grade Social Studies Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: Michelle is a great leader amongst our junior high team and can always be counted on to assist her teammates and those around her. She is truly a cornerstone to our middle school staff. 

Staff of the Month (August): Dominica Lopez (Secretary)

Reason Nominated: Dominica has done an amazing job in transitioning to her new role as Secretary. She is a great asset to our team and always is a smiling face to our families that need assistance.  


Queen Creek

Teacher of the Year (2019-20): Ashlee Gibson (Second Grade Teacher)

Reason Nominated: The image below describes Ashlee Gibson 100 percent. Mrs. Gibson is a true leader on the Legacy Queen Creek campus. Not only is she a highly effective teacher in the classroom, but Ashlee warms our campus with genuine support, love, and positivity. She has mentored many of our current staff members and Ashlee impresses everyone with her knowledge, innovation, and her passion to perfect her craft, year after year. The Legacy Queen Creek campus and the Vertex organization is lucky to have Ashlee Gibson as a pillar of consistency as the district lead in second grade. Not only does she have a tremendous impact on our campus, but knowing Ashlee, I am certain she supports all the other second grade lead teachers throughout our organization and raises the bar of excellence for all. I am proud to honor Ashlee Gibson as Legacy Queen Creek’s 2019-20 Teacher of the Year.

Staff of the Year (2019-20): Amanda Desterhouse (SPED Paraprofessional)

Reason Nominated: The image below describes Amanda Desterhouse perfectly. The image states, “If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress?” The answer to this for Amanda is, she would impress the world. Amanda displays tremendous patience as a one-on-one paraprofessional for one of our most intensive students. Despite the trials and tribulations, Amanda shows up each day with a smile on her face, love in her heart, and a willingness to do whatever she can to help her student achieve life milestones. Amanda is the silent leader of our SPED paraprofessional group and leads by example with her work ethic, dedication to complete tasks, and her ability to connect with students. I am proud to honor Amanda Desterhouse as Legacy Queen Creek’s 2019-20 Staff of the Year. 


Southwest Las Vegas

Teacher of the Month (August): Stephanie Miranda (Second Grade Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: For her heart and spirit. This lady’s beauty radiates from the inside out. Even when life is not ideal, she thrives in her craft. She is gracefully adaptable.

Staff of the Month (August): Callie Frank (Instructional Coach) 

Reason Nominated: For being the best Instructional Coach ever! And she plays guitar. 



Legacy Surprise did not have a teacher and staff of the month, however, they recognized our first responders on Patriots Day. The campus held a very special Patriots Day celebration. They honored local law enforcement and first responders with a color guard flag presentation, as well as a slideshow with photos of students and their first responder family members.


West Surprise

Teacher of the Month (August): Jill Fox (Art Teacher) 

Reason Nominated: Jill Fox was nominated as Teacher of the Month because she is always willing to go above and beyond to help! Not only does she step in and help her Specials team, but she is willing to provide extension activities to all of the general education teachers as well.  She is always so happy to greet students and volunteers to brave the Driveline heat each day to ensure our students get to their cars safely!

Staff of the Month (August): Vandy Blodgett (Secretary) 

Reason Nominated: Vandy Blodgett was nominated for Staff of the Month because of her warm welcome to all staff members on campus. She is so outgoing and makes everyone feel welcome. She jumps in to help any chance she gets and brings the most amazing energy to our staff. You can see her smile peeking out of her mask each and every day!