Volume 46, No. 10, May 7, 2018

Photo of Michael Hughes at dedication of Hughes Elementary School

Introducing Hughes Elementary School

At a special ceremony April 19, Hawthorne Elementary was officially rededicated as Michael T. Hughes Elementary School. Hughes (pictured) spent 20 years as a Governing Board member. He is CEO of A New Leaf, a local nonprofit that helps underserved families, and a respected leader in the Mesa community.

Teacher Appreciation discounts

May 7-11 is National Teacher Appreciation Week. Thank you to our wonderful educators for all you do!

To celebrate National Teacher Day Tuesday, May 8, several businesses are offering discounts for educators, including Chipotle and Organ Stop Pizza. Learn more and find additional discounts at azcentral.com or abc15.com.  

2018-19 administrative hires

At Governing Board meetings in March and April, several new administrator appointments were announced. Administrators will assume their roles July 1.

  • Theresa Baca, incoming executive director of special education. Baca currently serves as special education instructional leader at Rio Rancho Public Schools in New Mexico.
  • Ilene Berenbach, incoming east area director of special education. She currently fills the role as interim director.
  • Andrea Erickson, incoming principal at Pomeroy Elementary. She is currently the school's interim principal.
  • Christine Gutierrez, incoming principal at Roosevelt Elementary. Gutierrez is currently dean of students at Emerson and Webster elementary schools.
  • Amy Kramb, incoming principal at Redbird Elementary. Kramb is currently principal at Fulton Elementary School in Chandler.

Red Mountain High teachers and students visit NASA

For the second year in a row, a district team was selected to attend the NASA Microgravity University for Educators at Houston's Johnson Space Center.

Red Mountain High teachers Shane Bycott and Adam Middleton, along with students Nick Jones, Kevin Nguyen, Connor Bogenn and Connor Proffitt, joined nine teams from across the country. Participants solved technical problems by designing, building and testing devices in NASA's high-tech facilities. 

Transcripts due for certificated employee salary credit

To receive salary credit for eligible coursework completed between June 2017 and May 2018, certificated staff must submit their official transcripts to human resources no later than July 2018. Questions? Contact Ginger McCarty at 480-472-0408.

Do you need a paycheck checkup?

The Internal Revenue Service advised taxpayers to ensure they have the right amount of tax taken out of their paychecks for their personal situation. To better understand the implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS now offers a calculator to determine appropriate withholdings. Find links and more information on the payroll web page.

Four new A+ schools announced

Congratulations to Red Mountain High, and Field, Irving and Zaharis elementary schools for being named 2018 A+ Schools of Excellence by the Arizona Educational Foundation. The designation honors schools that best meet the academic and non-academic needs of their students. Mesa Public Schools currently has 26 active A+ schools, more than any other district in the state.

Customer service rockstars

Congratulations to the schools that received the most customer service survey submissions from their communities in March and April:


  • Porter Elementary — 57 entries
  • Holmes Elementary — 26 entries
  • KinderU, and Lindbergh and Whitman elementary schools (tie) — 14 entries


  • Sousa Elementary — 19 entries
  • Lehi Elementary — 14 entries
  • Holmes and Lindbergh elementary schools (tie) — 9 entries

Customers raved about wonderful service at many schools and departments, including this comment from a parent at Irving Elementary. "I love the staff at Irving! They have all been so nice, welcoming and helpful. My child is getting the best help possible."

Need more customer service survey cards? They're free from the warehouse with code 9135151ESW. An online form is available on the district website. Consider posting a link on your school or department home page.

Mountain View and Red Mountain high schools launch new programming

Beginning with the Class of 2022, Mountain View High students may apply to the school's new music conservatory program, an advanced course of studies that leads to a Seal of Musical Excellence on their diplomas. The program is the first of its kind in Arizona.

Red Mountain High is one of 100 schools nationwide, one of only two in the state, selected by the College Board to implement its new Pre-Advanced Placement program in the 2018-19 school year. Pre-AP is an open-access, systematic approach to giving all students the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and tools to be successful in AP and other college-level coursework.

Cue the applause

Brian Buck, Westwood IB teacher, cropped profile photoBrian Buck, International Baccalaureate history teacher at Westwood High (pictured), is the Arizona nominee for the national James F. Harris History Teacher Award. He was nominated by the Arizona Historical Society, administrator of the state's National History Day program. He will compete against nominees from 56 affiliates around the world. National winners are announced in June.

Mesa Public Schools earned the Best Communities for Music Education designation from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation, or NAMM. The district was recognized for its outstanding commitment to providing music access and education to all students. 

Congratulations to Wilson Elementary, winner of the 2018 City of Mesa Earth Day Art Challenge, The Art of Sustainability. The school was celebrated for its recycled jellyfish project, made out of wire, and plastic bags and bottles. The project will be displayed at the i.d.e.a. Museum later this month. The school earned an award, $500 prize and a tree for their campus.

Tot Wallace, community education director, was named 2018 Administrator/Regional Leader of the Year by Arizona Community Education Association. Wallace was recognized for her leadership and its positive impact on the community.

Lindsay Linoff, Dobson High macroeconomics and Junior AVID teacher, was named 2018 Mesa Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year. Linoff is also a junior varsity cheer coach. She's admired for her infectious energy, can-do spirit and leadership skills. She received $500 for classroom projects.

Jan Cawthorne, executive director of special education, was honored with the parent partnership award at the Raising Special Kids Symposium on Children with Special Health Care Needs. She was recognized for her leadership and commitment to the spirit of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), along with ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.

Mountain View High's Cindy Huffman shakes hands with Mountain View High principal Greg Milbrandt at Governing Board meetingCongratulations to the employees honored during the Spotlight Recognitions program at recent Governing Board meetings. Mesa High music teacher Connie Turley, Irving Elementary kindergarten teacher Paula Saul, Johnson Elementary sixth-grade teacher Sharon Paley, Zaharis Elementary second-grade teacher Jeanie Germaine, Mountain View High social studies teacher Corey Anderson, Carson Junior High math teacher Bryan Maston and Wilson Elementary PE teacher Rebecca Neal were named Educators Who Make a Difference. Maintenance and grounds work order clerks Veronica Boolman, Laura Santiago and Abbi Zern, and educational technology trainer Norm Peckham were named Employees Who Make a Difference.

Customer Service Champions were Mesa High general clerk Josefina Cordova, Irving Elementary office specialist Noemi Burgos, Johnson Elementary office specialist Sandra Grace, Zaharis Elementary crossing guard Stacey Mansell, educational technology assistant Nicki Marske, Mountain View High receptionist Cindy Huffman (pictured), Carson Junior High registrar Stephenie Garcia and Wilson Elementary resource center specialist Julianne Rexroat. See all of this year's awardees and view Spotlight videos on the communications and marketing web page.


Send news to

Heidi Hurst, communications and marketing supervisor

Submit an award or recognition or tell us about a special event via our good news form.


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