Volume 41, No. 16, May 21, 2013

Deb Pangrazi
 Deb Pangrazi
Elementary PE specialist 

The First Tee honors Deb Pangrazi

Chosen from 250 nominees nationwide, Deb Pangrazi, the district's elementary physical education specialist, is among four winners of the 2013 Outstanding Student Impact Award from The First Tee National School Program.

The program impacts the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill nine life-enhancing core values and promote nine healthy habits through the game of golf in more than 5,000 elementary schools nationwide.

"We appreciate Deb's outstanding efforts, dedication, creativity and collaboration with The First Tee of Phoenix, Mesa and other Maricopa County communities," said Henry Sandles, The First Tee director of Mountain Region Affairs. 

"Deb has given more than 32,000 young people the opportunity to learn and grow through this great life sport, in and outside the school setting," he added.

Elaine Griego wins Legacy, Lincoln awards

Elaine Griego, Ishikawa Elementary fifth-grade teacher, received an Abraham Lincoln Fellowship and the Coach Jesse Parker Legacy Award this spring.

The Legacy Award honors Griego for her inspirational, results-oriented teaching style that challenges children to be better than they think they can be. As a Lincoln fellow, Griego received a five-day expense-paid trip to Illinois to visit historical sites and focus on our 16th president's life and times.

Absence excused

When Gregg Baumgarten, former SHARP principal, told us why he missed the Employee Retirement Reception, his excuse turned out to be so much better than "the dog ate my invitation." 

Lauren Baumgarten

Lauren Baumgarten mans the rails as the Stennis sails into mooring at Naval Station San Diego, with the USS Ronald Reagan in the background.

Gregg Baumgarten was aboard the USS John C Stennis Tiger Cruise, April 23-29, traveling from Hawaii to San Diego, Calif.

He and his wife, Jackie, were selected in a lottery to experience a unique family reunion — the honor of cruising with their daughter, Lauren, a nuclear engineer on the aircraft carrier.

As a 2006 Dobson High grad, Lauren went on to complete her studies at the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Training Center in Charleston, S.C. 

"It was very demanding," Baumgarten said. "MPS can take pride in producing students who have the ability to succeed in a program like that. The cruise was an amazing experience, and it was truly awe-inspiring to see what my daughter does in the Navy," he added. 

See the remarkable "NBC Nightly News" coverage during Baumgarten's Tiger Cruise. And read his firsthand account of life, sights, sounds, mazes, nooks and crannies aboard the aircraft carrier.

Tom Pickrell earns Career Achievement Award

Tom Pickrell, MPS general counsel, will receive the 2013 Public Lawyer Career Achievement Award at the State Bar of Arizona Convention in June. Pickrell has played a key role in many education reforms over the past three decades.

Red Mountain High wins AIA Directors Cup

RMHS wins AIA Directors CupRed Mountain has been named Arizona's No. 1 school by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

The AIA honored the Mountain Lions at the association's Champions Award Luncheon at the University of Phoenix Stadium on May 20.

The Directors Cup signifies that Red Mountain has reached the pinnacle of excellence in athletics, scholastics, activities, service, community and character-based initiatives.

"Winning the Directors Cup validates our staff's collective efforts to create positive change within our campus culture," said Jim Gowdy, Red Mountain athletic director.

School board surprises Employees of the Month

Lester WeaverColleagues who nominated Lester Weaver, noted, "Lester takes changes and challenges in stride, with a smile and an admirable work ethic. He's an asset to everyone at MDC and the Mail Center."

The superintendent and school board surprised Employees of the Month in May with tributes, certificates of appreciation, and $400 for professional development.

Co-workers, family members and friends were on hand to join in honoring our Classified Employees and Educators of the Month:

  • Trevor Brimhall, Educator of the Month, social studies teacher, Red Mountain High 
  • Kelley Kemmis, Educator of the Month, science teacher, Rhodes Junior High 
  • Michele Roberts, Classified Employee of the Month, library resource specialist, Westwood High
  • Lester Weaver, Classified Employee of the Month, warehouse worker, Materiel Distribution Center and Mail Center

You're invited

Roller skating discounts — The Mesa Foundation for Educational Excellence and Skateland, at 7 E. Southern Ave., Mesa, formed a new partnership that offers 60 percent off admission and skate rental June 1-30. You'll save more than 60 percent, and Mesa Foundation will receive 100 percent of the proceeds. Everyone's welcome. Each coupon is good for up to five people. 

Dobson Football Golf TournamentRegister by June 1 for the June 8 tournament at Kokopelli, 1800 W. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert. Proceeds benefit the football program.

Summer hours for discount movie tickets

MPS employees can buy Harkins and AMC movie tickets for $6 in the Student Services Center lobby year-round. Complete information and new summer hours are posted online. 

Bonnie LongBonnie Long named Volunteer of the Month

Bonnie Long of Rhodes Junior High was honored as the district's Volunteer of the Month by the superintendent and school board in May.

Long has been a member of the Rhodes family for four years. She helps employees prepare for the school year to begin and end. In between, she's a willing worker, wherever and whenever she's needed.

MPS honored Long with a tribute, certificate, key chain and mug. The Mesa Foundation for Educational Excellence provided a $50 gift card and a book titled "The Heart of a Volunteer."

Do you have a dedicated volunteer who makes a difference in the lives of MPS students and staff? Awards resume in September. Nominate your volunteer.

Student achievement abounds in MPS

National Academic Decathlon — Red Mountain High won sixth place overall, the national Rookie of the Year Award in Division I, and individual gold, silver and bronze medals in essay, music, economics, interview, speech, science, and language and literature. Harrison Finzel, winner of three gold medals, was named the top "scholastic" student nationwide.

STEM Diploma — Students throughout the East Valley — with a passion for science, technology, engineering, medicine or math — can choose a comprehensive college-prep curriculum and a new STEM Diploma at Red Mountain High.

Arizona Brainfood — Las Sendas Elementary recycled drink pouches and raised $950 for Arizona Brainfood, which provides food for hungry MPS students to take home on the weekends. The service-learning project, developed by Annie Brown, first-grade teacher, doubled its fundraising efforts this year, thanks to supportive students and staff.

AIA Scholar Activity Award — Angela Zhang of Mountain View High won the Scholar Activity Award at the Arizona Interscholastic Association's Champions Awards ceremony. The awards recognize character and honor in outstanding achievement on and off the field.

Voices — Celebrate the award-winning narratives, poems, essays and class books in the 2013 MPS writing competition. The anthology is available online.

Westwood Team Assist AwardPhoenix Suns Team Assist Award — Westwood High varsity girls and boys basketball teams won one of five $1,000 Team Assist Awards earlier this year and went on to win the $5,000 Team Assist grand prize from the Phoenix Suns and CenturyLink. Team Assist Awards recognize outstanding community service.

H2O for LifePorter Elementary's Hope Club, an environmental awareness organization, is partnering with H2O for Life to bring water, toilets and hand-washing stations to Njumbi Primary School in Kenya.

So far, Porter has raised $972.28. The service-learning project is coordinated by Amber Mendoza, fifth-grade teacher.

National Shakespeare Competition — Benjamin Ellsworth, a student in David Gardner's theater program at Mountain View High, finished in the top 10 at the National Shakespeare Competition in New York City's Lincoln Center.

State wrestling champions — Mountain View's Seth Monty, coached by Bob Callison, and Ben Andrew, of Mesa High, coached by Bobby Williams, are two-time state champions.

Boeing Essay Contest — The Boeing Company awarded essay contest winners laptops, and $100 and $50 gift cards for winning essays on "Science and Technology: Innovation Through Imagination."

Battle of the Books — Franklin West Elementary's Battle of the Books team won the grand-prize trophy in this spring's districtwide competition. JoAnn Postert, library resource specialist, coordinated the program at Franklin West.

Stock Market Game — Franklin at Brimhall sixth-graders taught by Vaunee Ann Lewis placed first and won $100 in the elementary division of the Stock Market Game, sponsored by the Arizona Council on Economic Education. Second place went to April Coleman's gifted students at Madison. They won $50.


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Lynda Jordan, community relations specialist, lkjordan@mpsaz.org. 

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