Volume 47, No. 10, April 12, 2019

Sirrine students and staff forming an a+

Six new A+ schools announced

Congratulations to Emerson, Ishikawa, Lincoln, Mendoza, Sirrine and Washington elementary schools for being named 2019 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 23 active A+ schools, more than any other district in the state.

See you at the ball game

Enjoy a day at the ballpark tomorrow, April 13, for Mesa Public Schools day with Arizona State University Sun Devil Baseball. The team will take on defending champions Oregon State University at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $9 for district staff. Purchase by end of day today at fevo.me/asumps.

Upcoming social and emotional learning opportunities

Student and staff social and emotional wellness is a top priority. Learn more about SEL at upcoming community events:

Open office hours with Dr. Ember Conley, discussing ideas for engaging the community in student social and emotional learning
3:30 p.m., April 15, at Administrative Services Center, Room 301A

A Community Conversation: Teens & Mental Health — What Your Teen Might Not Tell You
6:30 p.m., April 15, at Mesa High School

Resilience: the Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope
Free community screening and discussion panel
6 p.m., May 7, at East Valley Academy

Movie ticket update

On May 1, 2019, Harkins Theatres is discontinuing its red Classic ($7) and blue Ultimate ($8) discount tickets. Only VIP gold tickets will be available for purchase, at $8.50 per ticket. Although already purchased red and blue tickets will still be accepted at Harkins Theatres, the district will no longer be able to purchase these tickets after the current stock runs out.

Please complete this poll to help us determine employee interest in Harkins VIP gold tickets. VIP gold tickets are valid for any regular-priced show, films designated Special Engagement and Tuesday Night Classics.

Thank You graphicNational School Library Month

We're celebrating National School Library Month in April. We appreciate our hard-working media center staff for supporting student learning. Check out this video starring Washington Elementary students sharing why they love visiting the media center.

Bus Driver Appreciation Week

At the Tuesday, April 9, Governing Board meeting, the board proclaimed April 22-26 as Bus Driver Appreciation Week in Mesa Public Schools. We extend our thanks to our bus drivers and transportation staff for all they do to get our students safely to school.

Enjoy this bus driver appreciation video from educational television.

Reminder, board meetings and study sessions are livestreamed

Can't make it to the Board Room for Governing Board meetings? All meetings and study sessions are livestreamed at mpsaz.org/live. Study sessions begin at 5 p.m., while meetings kick off at 7 p.m.

View an archive of study sessions, beginning with the Jan. 22, 2019, study session. View the full archive of 2018-19 Governing Board meetings.

2019-20 administrative hires

At Governing Board meetings this spring, several new administrator appointments were announced. Unless otherwise noted, administrators will assume their roles July 1.

  • Kacy Baxter, incoming principal at Franklin East Elementary. She is currently an administrator in Tempe Elementary School District.
  • Gabbi Buckley, incoming principal at Dobson High. She is currently an assistant principal at Dobson High.
  • Bruce Cosseboom, incoming principal at Fremont Junior High. He is currently an assistant principal at Mountain View High.
  • James Driscoll, executive director of human resources. He's currently east area assistant superintendent.
  • Casey Eagleburger, incoming principal at Red Mountain High. He is currently principal at Smith Junior High.
  • Andi Fourlis, incoming deputy superintendent. She is currently assistant superintendent of teaching & learning.
  • Shelley Heath, incoming principal at Hermosa Vista Elementary. She is currently principal at Wilson Elementary.
  • Helen Hollands, incoming chief strategy and information officer. She is currently executive director of technology & communication.
  • Shaun Holmes, incoming associate superintendent of human and capital resources. He is currently assistant superintendent of human resources.
  • Susan Jenni, incoming principal at Washington Elementary. She's currently dean of students at Edison and Guerrero elementary schools.
  • Marlo Loria, incoming executive director of innovative partnerships. She's currently director of career & technical education.
  • Randy Mahlerwein, incoming area assistant superintendent. He's currently an assistant superintendent in Higley Unified School District.
  • Lindsay Massey, director of specialized instruction in special education. She was formerly an SLD itinerant. Massey has already assumed her new role.
  • David McNeil, incoming area assistant superintendent. He's currently executive director of research, assessment & accountability.
  • Renee Parker, incoming director of classified personnel. She is currently principal at Sirrine Elementary.
  • Kassandra Spurlock, incoming principal at Mesa Center for Success at Jordan. She is currently a behavior specialist in Kyrene School District.
  • John Trezise, incoming principal at Sirrine Elementary. He is currently principal at Hermosa Vista Elementary.
  • Holly Williams, incoming executive director of master planning and bond projects. She is currently area assistant superintendent and chief of staff.
  • Tracy Yslas, incoming executive director of teaching & learning. She is currently director of professional development.

Customer service rockstars

Satisfied customers continue to take time to recognize staff for stellar customer service in the district's customer service survey. The schools and departments that received the most responses in March were:

  • Student records, 5 responses
  • Lindbergh Elementary, 3 responses
  • Emerson and Patterson elementary schools, 2 responses (tie)

Customers praised fantastic service, including this comment from a community member about facility rentals: "Christina Haller is incredibly helpful and responsive. I appreciate her dedication and support."

The online survey is available on the district website. Consider placing a link on your school or department home page.

Cue the applause

Felice Davis, Mendoza teacherCongratulations to our district staff who were named Best of Mesa by East Valley Tribune. Red Mountain High School was named best public school, while the Mountain Lion was named best mascot. Mendoza Elementary kindergarten teacher Felice Davis (pictured, right) was named best elementary school teacher, and Mountain View High jewelry teacher Joe Sullivan was named best high school teacher. See all of the Best of Mesa recognitions on the East Valley Tribune website.

Mesa High School's Kim Adams was named New Education Professions Teacher of the Year at the Educators Rising State Leadership Conference in Tucson. Several CTE education professions students also took home top honors.

Carson Junior High English teacher Tara Bartlett won the John J. Ross Memorial Award for Excellence in Law-Related Education by Arizona Bar Foundation. Bartlett implemented the Project Citizen Program at Carson Junior High and has also served as a We the People event coordinator. 

Dobson High English teacher Jane Trayer was named KTAR Teacher of the Month, winning $1,000 for her classroom. She was nominated by student Katie Connally.

Red Mountain High social studies teacher Robert Macias is one of only 50 educators in the country selected to attend the Friends of the National World War II Memorial summer conference in Washington, D.C. He has also been chosen to attend the Gilder-Lehrman teacher seminar on "The Story of WWII" to be held at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Ken Alexander and Joseph Leon, audit services, won the Best Practices Award from Arizona Association of School Business Officials. The award recognizes excellence in school business management.

Westwood High engineering and robotics teacher Tom Saxon was named FRC 2019 Arizona Regional Teacher of the Year. The award recognizes educators who serve as positive role models.

For the second year in a row, the district was honored with the Best Communities for Music Education Award by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation. The district was recognized for its outstanding commitment to providing music access and education to all students. 

Skyline High School theatre teacher Travia Steward has been nominated for a 2019 Tony Awards Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Steward's nomination was led by colleagues and former students spanning her 23 years in theatre education. If Steward wins, she will be recognized on the 2019 Tony Awards and take home a $10,000 grant.

Katy Gazda

Johnson Elementary third-grade teacher Lynsey Montgomery was named a 2019 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow by National Geographic Society and Lindblad Expeditions. Fellows will visit Antarctica, Alaska, Central America, Galapagos Islands, the High Arctic and more on Lindblad Expedition ships later this year. Montgomery and 44 other educators will engage in professional learning through hands-on, field-based experiences they can bring back to their students.

Red Mountain High biotechnology teacher Katy Gazda (pictured left) won the Outstanding Educator of K-12 Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Kudos to the staff recognized at the March 26 and April 9 Governing Board meetings. Educators Who Make a Difference were Entz Elementary fourth-grade teacher Michelle Mullenaux, Kerr Elementary third-grade teacher Traci Laasch, Highland Arts Elementary fifth-grade teacher Amy Lahavich, Mendoza Elementary first-grade teacher Rachel Fountain and Pomeroy Elementary kindergarten teacher Paula Cullymore. Employees Who Make a Difference were MacArthur Elementary nurse Janet Weld and Mendoza Elementary instructional assistant Lea Espy.

Customer Service Champions were Entz Elementary cafeteria manager Dawn Lawler, Kerr Elementary office specialist Astrid Caceres Grey, MacArthur Elementary office specialist Darla Hansen, Highland Arts Elementary office specialist Julie Roggeman, Mendoza Elementary office specialist Heather Knutson and Pomeroy Elementary secretary to the principal Rebecca Bond. See all honorees and view spotlight videos on the communications & marketing webpage.


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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