Academic All Stars 2021

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

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2018 Academic All-Stars Abigail Bowling Avery Baltunis A W SENIOR

shen a senior andschool first year student at ASU the last bell Prep Abigail Bowling has had to ringsDigital, and his homework learn the newAvery formats associated with is finished, online Baltunis learning. eagerly hops on his bike. Abigail was preparing for her senior year at “Every after school, I Buenaday when, with the uncertainty she saw with always ride my bike, I always in-person learning, she look forward to it at the end of the to withdraw fromstressday,”opted he said. “It’s a nice Buena for a different reliever.” path, theapath through Baltunis, senior at Buena High Academic All Star School, is alearning. memberEven of the school’s online Nomination mountain biking team. For the though the decision last would four years, ripping Name: Abigail Bowling changehe’s the been pattern and rolling through trails and of her school year, she competitions as member of the School: ASU Prep Digital persevered. With all the mountain biking junior varsity Grade: 12th changes she and educational varsity teams. Extra Curriculars: would is experience, sheBaltunis Cycling something Volunteering has has been into since he was a young still kept her GPA His father, Mikea Baltunis, a 3.98 (earning 4.3 always loved the sport and evenPrep) and is still GPA her first semester at ASU owns M&M Cycling on Fry excelling in her studies. Boulevard. Mike would take his In addition to school, Abigailhim had put in son biking and loved watching many volunteer hours with Buena’s fine arts grow. productions as an officer and a Thespian. She “I would take him on bigger rides and, starting volunteered as anfreshman editor for ayear, national studenthe raced for the Buan run organization andMountain helped as a tutor for another Biking Team,” Mike Baltunis said. organization. Her resume will definitely reflect “Now, he’s surpassed me, I’m old the selfless hours and dedication she has put in to now and he’s young and fast. It’s helping pretty cool others. as a parent who does a Abigail continues to volunteer sport Currently, to see your kid, who’s young online,but student-run and through a little weak, as they organizations. Her get better and to better they startis honorable. committed helping others beating you. You’re proud and mad Abigail’s ability to adapt to her new at the same time.” environment, online learning and online But, where Avery Baltunis volunteering and tutoring, definitely shows her Mines in Golden, Colorado, this shines especially bright is in the determination to succeed. fall. There, he plans to major classroom.

in mechanical engineering and hopefully work with sustainable and renewable technologies. “It would be interesting to work with renewable energy at some point,” he said. “It’s always been an interest of mine to make the environment better and I think renewable energy is a great way to start.” Mike Baltunis couldn’t be more proud of his son, but he isn’t surprised at his success. Avery Baltunis has always been successful in academics and is incredibly driven. The elder Baltunis never had to worry about his son’s grades because he knew he loved to succeed. “He’s always been driven, even

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.



Golden Apple &Awards

Anatole France

Publisher: Jennifer Sorenson Publisher: Jennifer Sorenson Editor: TIm Woods Editor: Andrew Paxton Photos: Mark Levy, submitted Writers: Lamb, Alyssa Fry, Stories:Linda SharLou Porier, Lauren Renteria, Sasha Hartzel Alexis Ramanjulu, Dana Cole Photos: Mark Levy, provided

when he was a little, tiny kid,” Mike Baltunis said. “He was always super smart and super athletic. We don’t have to worry about him — doing homework or doing well in school. He’s kind of self-motivated. He wants to do well.” Avery Baltunis credits much of his success in school to his parents, who are his biggest inspirations. He’s always felt a strong sense of support from his parents to do well in everything he does. “I look up to them for the confidence they gave me in school and athletics,” he said. “They always taught me to do my best and to try no matter what. They just taught me great qualities like how to be motivated and stay motivated in school.”

Age: 18 Grade: Senior School: Buena High School Extracurricular: Mountain biking team Grade point average: 4.574 Future plans: Baltunis plans to go to the Colorado School of Mines to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. He hopes to work with renewable and sustainable technology. Nominated by: Allen Wright

Scholarship winner


The 18-year-old is set to graduate at the end of the school year with a 4.574 grade point average. He’s a math and science whiz who loves physics, chemistry and engineering. Baltunis has always been a good student, but his passion for science, technology, engineering and math started during his freshman year at Buena. His 21-year-old brother, Aiden, took similar classes during his time at Buena and Avery Baltunis thought STEM classes looked like fun. It wasn’t long before he fell in love with math and science, so much so that he plans to pursue a career in engineering. Avery will start his freshman year at the Colorado School of







Joseph Clabaugh


oseph Clabaugh is a senior at Buena High School, and was nominated by Ellen Clabaugh. Joseph has a 4.2 GPA and enjoys several different kinds of hobbies. His main passion, however, is Cyber security, which he will be studying at Grand Canyon University. During the pandemic, Joseph has used his time well: he has already begun preparing for his college journey by getting a job. According to Ellen, Joseph is an example of a student who puts others before himself, even volunteering on his birthday instead of taking the day off. “He’s a fun, friendly person who shows dedication to a job well done and

encourages others to follow his lead,” Ellen commented. Joseph is great at pushing himself and others to do their best and make the most of their days. He also has volunteered for his church, operating circuit boards and the computer in order to control the lights, sound and power points. Joe is a go-getter, constantly on the move and bringing laughter into every situation along the way. According to Ellen, Joseph “reaches out to mentors to seek wise counsel to challenging life questions, and he encourages others to make good short-and-long term choices.” Joseph has made a reputation for himself in

his town as someone they can depend on as a volunteer, and as a mentor to other students. He likes helping people; even his choice of study will do so by protecting small groups and their websites from online attacks. Joseph is an Academic All-Star because he makes it a priority to put others before himself. His grades are excellent, but the example he sets for other students is why he was nominated. Joseph Clabaugh’s influence goes beyond that of his fellow students however; Ellen made it clear that his help has reached many people, and with his fervor, he continues to do so.


Calli Haws



igh school senior Calli Haws stays busy — playing tennis, practicing piano, leading a youth church group, helping at local food banks, volunteering for city improvement projects, and acting as Student Body President for Buena High School’s Student Council are just some of the activities that fill her day. While engaging in so many extracurricular activities, Calli has still managed to maintain an impressive GPA of 4.4. The incredible amount of hard work displayed by Calli is just part of the reason she was nominated as an Academic All Star by Buffy Haws. “Calli Haws has love for learning,” said Buffy Haws, describing the senior as self-motivated and a natural born leader. “She finds joy in working with others and leading by example.” Her love of collaborative work and helping others is apparent in her hours dedicated to volunteer work. Calli’s long list of service projects have spanned local schools, churches, parks, cemeteries, and neighborhoods. Through helping her community and performing service, Calli finds joy. The senior also dedicates time to improving herself — in the words of Buffy Haws, “she has a strong desire to better herself and knows that by doing so she is setting herself up to help others.”

Calli is a people-person, and her personality shines through in her relationships with her family, friends, and groups. She has been called an exemplary friend, sister, daughter, student, and leader. Pre-pandemic, Calli participated in clubs such as the Rotary Club and FFA. Despite the difficulties of COVID-19, she has maintained her leadership roles in both her church’s youth group and her high school’s student council. When the opportunity arises, Calli finds ways to serve and help in these roles. She is someone who strives to try new things and to excel in all she does. After graduation, Calli will be taking her love of people, service, and hard work to the next level in the nursing program at Arizona State University.

Academic All Star Nomination Name: Calli Haws School: Buena High School Grade:12 Extra Curriculars: Tennis, rotary club, FFA, church, volunteer work, piano GPA: 4.4 Future plans: Nursing program at Arizona State University


Academic All Star Nomination Name: Joseph Clabaugh GPA: 4.2 Future Plans: Study Cyber Security at Grand Canyon University

Amiya Matthews




miya Matthews is a senior at Buena High School. She has been nominated by eight individuals to be a Herald/ Review Academic All-Stars. The first nomination, from her English teacher Melanie Henderson, makes it obvious how committed Amiya is to her education and future. “Amiya demonstrates unwavering discipline when it comes to her academics. She is always in class, whether in person or in a Google Meets. Amiya is the student who asks insightful questions, and has the ability to accept constructive criticism with grace and dignity,” Henderson wrote. Academic All Star Henderson goes on to list Matthews’ Nomination numerous other accomplishments, Name: Amiya Matthews including working at a daycare, GPA: 3.95 volunteering with her church and little Extracurricular: Working league. She also is significantly involved at a daycare, volunteering in athletics herself, earning recognition at church and Little League in several different categories of sports Future Plans: Study including letters from colleges. From business with a minor in another nomination, by Little League culinary arts Softball President Audra Hildreth, we learn that running a bakery is a vision of Amiya’s, and with all her accomplishments it seems easily attainable. Two more nominations come from her pastor and Sunday school teacher, who both praise Matthews for her consistent hard work and athletic skills. Felicia Simpson, another one of the eight people who nominated Matthews, said,“She is looking forward to attending college and will set the same standards and expectations for herself during the next chapter of her life.” Another testimony by Loretta Yorke emphasizes that despite her busy lifestyle, Amiya still invests in her family, including her little brother. Yorke goes on to say that Matthews would love to attend the University of Arizona or the University of New Mexico state. Natoyah Swift, one of her coaches, says this about Amiya: “Even with the uncertainty of the times, her resiliency and drive kept her strong and narrowed her focus on her educational goals of majoring in business with a minor in culinary arts.” Both Yorke and Swift said the exact same thing when it came to Amiya’s college plans.




Erica Sarters

Academic All Star Nomination Name: Erica Sarters School: Buena High School Grade:12 Extra Curriculars: Swim team, marching band, volunteer work GPA: 4.375 weighted


Future plans: Study Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe


uena High School senior, Erica Sarters, earned herself six nominations for Academic All Star. The nominations were overflowing with examples of Erica’s tendency to go above and beyond and to inspire and lead others. They described the senior as brimming with curiosity, intelligence, and kindness; balancing school, work, and service with extra curriculars. “Erica Sarters is an extraordinary young lady who has a passion for learning and expanding her knowledge. She is deserving, with all of her accomplishments in and out of school,” said Shawn Sarters, one of Erica’s nominators. From a young age, Erica displayed an innate curiosity and desire to learn. “Her constant seeking of information was outside the normal childhood curiosity. It was a need for her,” said Russel Sarters. “Erica always wanted to know more and is a constant questioner of when, where, why and how.” Her curiosity persisted, helping her to excel in academia. She has been described as a studious and intelligent student who is always asking questions. Erica’s love of learning led her to take many rigorous classes. “She loves her studies in school and has demonstrated it by her high academic standards,” said one nominator. The senior has an impressive GPA of 4.375. Outside of academia, Erica dedicates much of her time to her two leadership positions: she’s a team captain for Buena Swim and Dive and a tenor saxophonist section leader in Buena High School’s band. In both capacities, Erica is known for pushing herself and others to the best of their abilities. “She encourages her team and goes out of her way to do things for them,” said Shawn Sarters, describing Erica’s initiative to help the freshman on the swim team improve their swim strokes. All this Erica balances with volunteer work. The senior is a certified lifeguard and has volunteered 200 hours at her community pool. She has also dedicated time to helping on a horse ranch in Hereford and volunteers at her church. Erica’s true passion, however, is marine biology. “Her love for sea life is extraordinary,” said Silke Sarters. Erica is constantly increasing her knowledge in ocean marine life, with a focus on orcas, dolphins, and otters, according to Shawn Sarters. She even is involved in 4Ocean, a public benefit corporation helping to clean the oceans of plastic. Recently, Erica realized one of her dreams and was accepted to the University of Hawaii to study marine biology. “I believe that Erica will excel in this field,” said an anonymous nominator, “she will make a difference. There are no limitations in her potential to succeed.”


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Lauren Wall



auren Wall, a senior at ASU Prep Digital, has been an active member of many organizations during her three years at Buena and now as a senior at ASU Prep Digital. She has been an active member of several local and state organizations that are directed towards leadership and service. She was a member of the Arizona Governor’s Youth Commission for two years, serving on the committee dedicated to preventing dating violence. Lauren is the state treasurer for the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, helping organize their state events. She has been a member of the local Sunrise Assembly #39, currently serving as one of their officers. She also helps with and organizes their service projects with the DeMolay. Her volunteer work also extends to

helping organize fundraisers for the local Forgach House, helping to clean up the highway, and supporting the Sierra Vista animal shelter. Lauren’s interest in technology has also been an important part of her life. During her years at Buena, she completed the two year Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Operations program and obtained her drone operator’s license. She is a member of the Buena Nerds team, serving as their secretary and president. As a high school senior, Lauren is currently taking honors classes at ASU Prep Digital. She is also expanding her education in music, learning to play the guitar. Lauren plans to pursue a career in cyber security. Her educational choices have her earning a GPA of 4.1304.

Academic All Star Nomination Name: Lauren Wall School: ASU Digital Online Prep Grade: 12th Extra Curriculars: Technology, music

Congratulations to Cochise County Nominees and our Academic All Star Winners!





Empowering Lives Every Day




Edith Mendoza E

dith Mendoza is an inspiration for students and educators alike. Mendoza, a seventhgrade science teacher at Joyce Clark Middle School, was nominated for the Golden Apple Award by the middle school’s principal, Roger Hill. “Ms. Mendoza’s love of students and their learning makes her an excellent choice as a Golden Apple recipient,” said Hill. 2021 will be her eighth year of teaching and third full year of tackling middle school science. The principal said he loves visiting Mendoza’s class. There, he reports the students are not only always attentive, but smiling. Mendoza teaches science through inquiry, keeping her students engaged as she guides them through new ideas and concepts. She engineers a classroom environment where students connect lessons to real world applications and are always encouraged to ask questions. The science teacher has a passion for bringing the latest and greatest content and teaching practices to her classroom — in 2018, she won a scholarship to attend the Arizona

Science Teachers Association Symposium at Biosphere 2. When she won the scholarship, she told interviewers she considers herself a lifelong learner. “I am always looking to add different teaching strategies to my teacher toolbox.” In 2021, she again demonstrated this drive and dedication, completing her National Geographic Educators Certification. “She thrives on new opportunities to learn at a deeper level and bring that knowledge back to the classroom to share with her students more,” said Hill. Mendoza’s passion for STEM education transcends her immediate classroom. Beyond being a teacher, Mendoza also is First Lego League Coach. She has mentored robotics students for four years and led her team to the Arizona FIRST Lego League State Championship two years in a row. Before the pandemic, this science teacher also led an after-school program called Science of Flight. There, students learned all about how flight works through guest speakers and hands-on projects and practice flying with

remote-controlled helicopters. The Golden Apple Nominee is also part of Joyce Clark Elementary School’s science team and science department co-chair. She is what Principal Hill describes as, “a very active and fun-loving member who celebrates science in unique ways with the students each year.” Mendoza is known for her excellent rapport with students and her

support of girls in STEM. “Whether it is creating slime, ‘boo bubbles,’ or lava lamps to teach science, dressing up for special school days, or helping plan STEAM family nights, PIE in the SKY astronomy night, or field trips to the planetarium in Tucson, she is always involved and willing to give her time to make these events memorable for everyone,” Hill said


Deborah Paul



eborah Paul is a third grade teacher at Huachuca City School and nominated by Assistant Principal Jeanette Paz. Paz nominated Paul due to her amazing teaching style as well as the proactive role she plays in the school. She constantly promotes reading among her students and their families through a regular book club and annual event that encourages everyone to be involved, their “Literacy Night.” Paul cares very much about her students and has been teaching for six years. She persistently pursues the improvement of her already excellent teaching style by examining her students scores in different areas and making changes. Paul is actively involved in instructing her students; she uses methods to connect with them at their level, such as geographic modeling activities and games that keep their attention. This teaching style, which requires diligence and tactile work from her students, sets her apart from other teachers. Paul encourages each of her students through her understanding and down-to-earth nature, which she

reflects continually. Paz has witnessed Paul show other teachers the ropes so to speak; Paul makes the effort to hone these instructors to be the best they can be. “She thrives on taking all teachers under her wing and guides them throughout the year,” Paz said. She also commented that Paul has assisted many instructors in their transition to online education given our current pandemic. Something that Paz felt was important to include in her nomination is Paul’s humble attitude and drive for consistent communication in regards to her teaching career. She is always willing to acknowledge areas in which she can improve. Paz summarizes Paul’s approach as an educator, saying, “She makes it a mission to support new teachers, mentor student teachers, and is always looking for ways to incorporate the parents and community [into] our school.” Mrs. Paul is a teacher who prioritizes her entire school through her encouraging words and consistency.


Sarah Ray



arah Ray has a very unique position in the education system, at more than one school in Sierra Vista, as a district employee. At Joyce Clark Middle School and Buena High School, Ray works as a teacher mentor and Technology Integration Specialist. She was nominated as a Golden Apple because of the priceless technological help she constantly supplies staff, guiding them through the tempestuous sea known as teaching online. Many teachers have struggled to adapt to its ever-changing waves, being unfamiliar with computer technology from the start. In a short time, with little warning, teachers across the nation were forced to navigate its dark currents. Luckily, Ray could be there for these instructors and other staff members at the district, who have become her students as she holds actual classes for different levels of digital technology, starting with the basics. Ray teaches staff in classrooms and via the internet, even covering graphic design in some classes. She ensures these teachers can provide the best of themselves to their students, even online, and because of her help, teachers are incredibly encouraged. Ray’s nominator notes that she goes beyond the basic technological help, such as navigating program functions; she also advises teachers of the best ways to employ their lesson plans, in order to improve the quality of their reception by students. With her skills and radiant outlook displayed on the job, Ray leaves a lasting mark on her district. Her nominator describes this effect: “Her resourcefulness and creativity through this pandemic-driven teaching module has allowed teachers to reach new levels and surpass goals through these innovative processes created by her. Her enthusiastic approach to helping teachers and her love of learning, as well as her love of teaching, is a beacon to those who want to excel.”

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Deb Samuel


ithin 18 months of starting at Walter J. Meyer Elementary, teacher Deborah Samuel already knew every child on campus and had become an integral part of the school’s success. Samuel was nominated for the Golden Apple award by Scot Roppe, the school’s principal. “Deb ‘Jesse’ Samuel is the type of person that uses all she has gleaned as a lifelong learner and become a teacher that children will remember long after they leave our school,” said Roppe. Samuel came to Walter J. Meyer after a career at Disneyland, portraying popular movie characters such as Jesse from “Toy Story.” Now, she is known as a teacher whose lessons are, “so engaging and interesting that children of all developmental and educational levels often do not realize they are learning,” according to Roppe. Samuel’s background in performance may lend itself to her current juggling of titles — she is the instructor for computers, the Title 1 Coordinator, Interventionist, and English immersion teacher. She also finds

time to sponsor the student council and assist the start-up of the school’s first National Junior Honor Society. In her classes, Samuel interacts with all grade-levels and ensures every single child feels safe and valued. Roppe describes her as expecting high levels of respectful, useful, loving, ethical and safe behavior of all — both students and colleagues. While adhering to the school’s “positive behavioral instructional support” system, Samuel challenges her students to embrace their school’s rules, developing the practice as a life skill. Samuel is also known for her imagination. She applies this creativity to her classes, developing lessons and projects that thoroughly engross her students. Mindful of families, the teacher also keeps records of the project-based-learning to ensure the students’ guardians can monitor their progress. She even helps the students create handmade books and binders of their work to record and share their learning. The teacher has quickly become depended on by staff and students


at Walter J. Meyers. She is the principal’s go-to, whether it be to cover a class, pull together data, manage the office, or even console a broken heart. “If you need someone to create a PowerPoint for parents, host a virtual Title 1 parent meeting, create a schedule for Benchmarks,

Justin Shook



DIBELS, AZM2 or AZMERIT,” the principal said Samuel is there. “Her endearing presence is equally memorable, impactful and important to our ambition and mission of educating students to learn and be productive contributing citizens in our community,” said Roppe.

ustin Shook teaches four different subjects at Tombstone High School, making him a deserving Golden Apple honoree. Nominated by David Thursby, Mr. Shook touts an impressive workload, juggling responsibilities as a teacher and as the school’s coach to both baseball and football. He also helps out with the basketball team. He handles both sets remarkably well, even covering a rift in class scheduling created by a candidate teacher who could no longer fill the position. Instead of making the district scramble, Shook sacrificed his planning period, taking on even more grading, and developing more curriculum, out of love for his students. The subjects he teaches are economics, physics, the Constitution and chemistry. As a willing response to help the school thrive, Shook purposefully took extra classes in order to be able to teach economics and the Constitution. As to Shook’s teaching methods, Thursby says, “He challenges his students to think about how

science affects their everyday lives and he provides real life examples in every lesson.” Shook keeps his student’s attention, planting the desire for knowledge in them like an apple seed, bound to grow into a prosperous, fruitful tree. His effort to teach the subjects the school was previously lacking will not fall by the wayside; not only will his students have a firm foundation in physics and chemistry, they will have a strong understanding of finances as well as their rights as citizens, key lessons they will need as they traverse into adulthood. Degrees are being earned by students who used to attend Shook’s classes; he constantly encourages his pupils to pursue their love for science and other subjects in the form of higher education. Shook’s sense of responsibility and care for his school, as well as for his students, is evident in how he spends his time. Tombstone High School and its future collegians are made even more successful because of Shook’s consistency and devotion.



eing a school nurse is difficult in normal times. During a pandemic, it is a challenge like no other. Village Meadows Elementary School nurse Monica Smith has been nominated for the Golden Apple award for going above and beyond her duties to ensure the school is safe. She was nominated by the school’s principal, Cole Colvin, who has come to rely on her in these unprecedented times. “As a firstyear principal in the time of COVID Mrs. Smith has been the most amazing health professional, most amazing human being to act as a role model to students, parents, staff and myself,” Colvin said. Smith impresses with both her work as a nurse and her general disposition. “Every day Mrs. Smith comes to our school and provides an upbeat and positive environment for staff and students,” said Colvin. Beyond her immediate duties, she is constantly assisting students and staff. The nurse helps with parent pickup and drop-off, delivers meals, and independently handles over 400 children. To ensure a safe learning environment during COVID-19, Smith also led the safety protocol procedures at the school, including preparing social distance expectations in the various school rooms and even developing a social distance award to incentivize students. “The most amazing

part is she always does it with a smile,” said the principal. Promoting healthy habits at the school is another of Smith’s undertakings. Recently, she tackled sugar content in drinks, demonstrating to the students how much sugar various beverages contained. Her work was so impactful that many Village Meadows’ students are now not only abstaining from drinking sodas themselves, but even heckling the principal when he drinks them. “Mrs. Monica has a heart of gold,” said Principal Colvin. “She is the perfect example of someone who lives life to ensure someone else smiles.” When a student’s family lost their home and job this past Christmas, Smith was right there to help. By the end of the day, she had secured the family a place to live and food to eat. She even ensured the family’s children had Christmas presents, hand-wrapping donated gifts with her own children. “Mrs. Smith may not be in a classroom, she may not play a sport, and she may not be someone that is normally nominated for this award,” said Colvin. “However, Mrs. Smith is one of the most influential role models on the campus of Village Meadows. She is not just a nurse, but a smiling face that people look forward to in a time of uncertainty and unease.”


Congratulations to This Year’s Winners.


Monica Smith




Wendy West


endy West is a Culinary Arts teacher at Tombstone High School and was nominated by Rebecca Robinson, who says she constantly brings her special set of skills to the table. She displays her unique ideas and embodies them, demonstrating her ability to ‘think on her feet’ even during the global pandemic. Robinson boasts of Wendy’s strides, noting that in the two short years that West has been with the school, she has given its culinary kitchen new life, and despite having replaced their former, beloved teacher, has created renewed purpose in her students. She provides the support they need and enjoy. Robinson spoke of her continual persistence and vigilance even while teaching online, during which she has molded her lesson plans to be more fulfilling for her students. West’s support has encouraged her students to thrive in their educational career. Robinson adds, “She has quickly learned to navigate the world

of education and consistently provides the highest quality lessons and activities to her students at all levels. Wendy holds her students to the highest academic, professional and behavioral standards.” West is also the advisor of the Tombstone FCCLA, a club led by students. Meeting health standards is important to West and she regularly shows this to her students and colleagues with her conduct. She highly values organization as well, an obvious fact in her kitchen. Students who are struggling to eat also now have more hope because, out of compassion for her students, West helped create a food bank at the school. West is loved by everyone at her school. According to Robinson, “Her enthusiasm and energy are infectious, and, during a time when teaching could be overwhelming, she is a beacon of hope and positivity. Her passion for her content and her students is evident every time you walk in her room.”


Scott Whitney



cott Whitney, Benson High School English teacher, enjoys everything about teaching English but the times he most remembers are those when he sees the ‘aha’ look on his students’ faces. “I think all teachers know the ‘aha’ look on their students’ faces,” Whitney said. “When their eyes light up and you know that they get it. Teachers look for those moments.” In his second year teaching at Benson High School, Scott has made a strong impact on not only his students but also the other teachers he works with. One of those teachers, government and economics instructor Marv Sorensen, wanted to honor Whitney for the positive impression he has made at the school in the short time he has taught at Benson by nominating him for the Golden Apple Award. “I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a colleague at Benson High School who is a fantastic teacher with a unique and personal approach to motivating his students,” Marv said. Whitney enjoys teaching and it is apparent that his students know that he is sincerely working to help

them succeed. “His students enjoy his classes,” Marv said. They have a great respect for him. He treats everyone fairly.” Marv is also thankful for the efforts Scott has put into helping him with technology and as a co-teacher of their senior C.A.R. (Conference Advisory & Reteach) class, a daily study period. “On Mondays Scott and I team teach Character Strong to our senior C.A.R. class,” Marv said. “He has also been helping me with technology and being able to utilize it more efficiently in my classroom.” Whitney’s regular school day consists of teaching five periods of junior English and one period of Creative Writing/Mythology (creative writing for the first semester and mythology the second semester). In addition to teaching, he also sponsors the Creative Writing Club. Scott graduated with his Bachelors’ Degree from Brigham Young University, majoring in history. He went on to earn his teaching certificate from Idaho State University. He then joined the Army, spending fourteen years in military

intelligence before he was medically retired due to a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He attained the rank of Sergeant first class. Whitney earned his Masters’ Degree in curriculum and instruction from Grand Canyon University. It includes reading with emphasis on secondary education. “Scott has a way of making learning fun for his students and to use their skills and imaginations to stay laser-focused,” Marv said. “His philosophy about teaching is that it is a partnership with the students, parents, and teachers all being

stakeholders in the learning process.” Outside the classroom, Scott enjoys spending time with his family. He and his wife Alesha have been married for thirty-one years. They have five children and six grandchildren. A close family, they all live in the Sierra Vista area so they are able to be together for holidays and for every Sunday dinner. In his free time, he enjoys writing, especially creative nonfiction and poetry, wood carving, and geocaching. “I’m very honored to be nominated for this award,” Scott said.

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Joseph Fullen


ouglas High School student Joseph Fullen dreams of making the world a better place through technology. The junior is a role-model student known for going the extra mile in his classes. This ability to rise to challenges and his considerate personality are just part of the reason DHS teacher Jane Cinnamon nominated Fullen for the Academic All Star Award. “He doesn’t stop at getting a good grade on a test, he pushes himself to learn more about the subject,” Cinnamon wrote about Fullen. Even in math, the subject that can challenge him the most, he puts in the extra time and effort needed to learn. Cinnamon said Fullen meets with her on his own time, reviewing the lessons until he has mastered the necessary concepts. His persistence pays off every year, and his academic skills improve. A large component of Fullen’s life, and most likely his future, is technology. “Technology has always held his interest for as long as we can remember,” said Fullen’s mom, Maria Fullen. “He spends most of his time researching the latest and greatest technology and gaming,” she said. After high school, Cinnamon said Fullen hopes to work in the field. Until then, the junior is awaiting safer days when he can begin participating in a job shadowing program with the City of Douglas IT Department. One of Fullen’s goals is to own and live in a smart home of his own creation, according to Cinnamon. Another


is to create a program that helps homeless people find services and reunite with family — a goal that captures many of the junior’s greatest attributes. Maria Fullen said it is Joseph’s commitment to his family, his humility and kindness that impress her the most about her son. “He’s an awesome, well-rounded young man,” said Maria Fullen. “He is reserved, considerate, giving, and witty.” When not in school, gaming, or delving into technology, Joseph can occasionally be found happily detailing the family cars — “like any teenage boy,” in the words of his mother.

Name: Joseph Fullen School: Douglas High School Grade: 11 Extra Curriculars: Gaming, technology


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Academic All Star Nomination



Charli Ross


harli Ross is a sophomore at Buena High School. Charli’s current GPA is 4.2. She heavily participates in the JROTC at her school as a First Sergeant. She is also involved with the color guard and several other programs. Charli is a leader at her local dojo, where she helps people of all ages learn karate terminology, as well as give back to the community through food drives. She is a constant inspiration for people everywhere she goes. As a leader in JROTC, “Charli creates an atmosphere and willingness to go above and beyond to help her team succeed as a unit. She supports cadets as they prepare for competitions with pep talks, uniform tips, and is there for all their needs,” according to her nominator. In JROTC, the Dojo, and the several other groups that she is actively involved in, her accomplishments are numerous and her leadership is vital. “Charli’s greatest passion is

helping others,” her nominator adds. This Academic All-Star is determined to help people for years to come and in even more vital ways; she wants to go into healthcare. Charli’s consistent, supportive attitude will set her up for success in that career, and our current COVID crisis has already proven that she will persevere in it and change lives for the better. During the pandemic, Charli was tasked with keeping students motivated and engaged in Tang Soo Do. She planned creative lessons utilizing household items to challenge her students to continue training in indomitable spirit and high expectations. In a world where students can be anything, Charli has chosen to be a leader for herself and others, leaving us with the knowledge that Charli will continue to encourage people, as well as influence other students to follow in her footsteps.

Academic All Star Nomination Name: Charli Ross GPA: 4.2 Extra Curriculars: JROTC, color guard, karate, and volunteering.






Academic All Star Nomination Name: Jazmin Stein-Torres GPA: 4.0 Extra Curriculars: Playing saxophone, clarinet and guitar, reading

freshman at Douglas High School, Jazmin Stein-Torres has a 4.0 GPA and is dazzling her teachers including band teacher and nominator Nathan Darus. Jazmin is passionate about her education, focusing especially on improving her musician skills. Darus praised Jazmin for her perseverance and leadership. “She shows the drive needed to learn more than one instrument — spending hours, even at home, practicing,” stated Darus. Online courses have not wavered her commitment. Currently, the clarinet is her instrument of choice, replacing her previous go-to, the saxophone. She plays guitar in Darus’ class as well. Playing in the State Honor Band is one of Jaazmin’s goals, and Darus said she has sought him out for the required regional pieces she would need to learn, to put herself in the running. Douglas High School has never had someone place their name in the ring at regionals. Regarding her influence on her class, Darus shared, “She encompasses a true leader in her value to learn at a high standard, but most of all in her amazing communication with others. She always puts others first in her work and strives to do the best she possibly can do.” Torres also loves to read. She is diligent in having instructors go behind her on her work; her desire for knowledge is clear. With such a persistence in learning music and instruments, along with that incredible GPA, it is clear why Darus nominated her to be an All-Star. She is only a freshman, and yet she is already laying a great foundation for a successful future. Darus is convinced her abilities will possibly even lead her to write her own music. It is obvious that her talent leaves a lasting impression.



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Kashari Bullard


ashari Bullard’s determination, drive, and intrinsic motivation have thoroughly impressed Leman Academy of Excellence teacher Cassandra Jones. Jones said in her 17 years in the education profession, she has never encountered anyone quite like the eighth grader, earning Bullard a nomination as an Academic All Star. Jones describes the young scholar as polite, respectful, responsible, kind, attentive, trustworthy, and caring — all the qualities of a Leman Academy Scholar. “Kashari gives her best effort in every subject,” Jones said, “especially those subjects that are challenging for her.” At school, Bullard is often the student that teachers can count on, entrusted to deliver messages and papers to the office with fidelity, according to Jones. Her reliability goes far beyond the school walls, however — Bullard is an older sister to five siblings and is no stranger to lending a helping hand. “She enjoys helping her parents,” said Jones. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced classes to become remote, for instance, Bullard stepped up to help her siblings thrive in their new learning environment. While helping

ensure her family’s remote academic success, the eighth grader still manages to consistently complete her own work on time. Bullard’s caring personality has also led to her volunteering at her church where she helps to serve her community. Somehow, the young woman still finds time for more — Bullard participates in the city’s sports programs such as Hoopology 5on5’s, a unique basketball program dedicated to inspiring student athletes in Cochise County. Through Bullard’s commitment, work ethic, and collaboration skills, Jones said the student is an inspiration and role model to those around her. The young woman has managed to maintain a balance between academia, family, community, and sports—a feat many adults still struggle with. For someone like Bullard, on the cusp of finishing middle school, anything is possible. After two years of working with Bullard, Jones can’t wait to see what comes next. “I am excited to hear about Kashari’s future successes,” said the teacher. “She has the potential and determination to change the world.”

Academic All Star Nomination Name: Kashari Bullard School: Leman Academy of Excellence Sierra Vista Grade: 8 Extra Curriculars: Basketball, volunteering


Tyler Gjerde



Academic All Star Nomination Name: Tyler Gjerde School: Walter J. Meyer Middle School Grade: 7th GPA: 95% Extra Curriculars: Football

yler Gjerde, a 7th grader at Walter J. Meyer Middle School, was nominated for the Academic All-Star Award by his school principal, Scot Roppe, for being “an outstanding young man.” “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Tyler,” Walter J. Meyer Principal Scot Roppe said, “and that’s rare. Not only is he liked by everyone but he likes them in return. He’s just a wonderful young man.” His positive attitude in and out of class has earned him the respect of his peers. “Tyler is a joy to have in class, always trying, wanting to learn, and setting an example for others to emulate,” Roppe said. “His behavior in and around the school is superb. Tyler is always setting an example for his peers.” Tyler is a student who holds himself to high standards, always putting 100% into school projects and class assignment every day in all of his classes. It is these high expectations and the time and dedication he puts into everything

he does that has earned him both good grades the respect of others — very notable attributes for anyone of any age. As a leader, Tyler is willing to take charge when working in groups but is also willing to step back and allow others to take the lead for the success of all involved. He is pleasant, caring, and considerate of his classmates and his teachers. But school is not the only place where Tyler excels. He was a member of the Sierra Vista youth football league; last year he and his team advanced to the championship game in Las Vegas. He now competes in a youth football league in Tucson. From academics to athletics, Tyler is a student/athlete who works hard in the classroom and on the athletic field of competition. He is a young man of integrity “If anyone ever embodied the words ‘Humble and Kind’ it would be Tyler,” Roppe said. “He is that and more.”




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Hailey Dale H

ailey Dale is a sixth grader at Huachuca City School. She was nominated as an Academic All-Star by her teacher, Camille Call, who shares Hailey’s “boundless enthusiasm” and analyzing skills. Dale makes a name for herself with her ability to constantly improve as a student and help others do the same. According to Call, “She monitors her own learning and her learning habits, Hailey is an independent and successful student who challenges herself to reach high standards and expectations.” Dale also uses her ability to analyze in group settings as well, encouraging others to think about all sides of the proverbial equation. Hailey is flexible, not bound by an insistence to take a position over another student. She is willing to concede and work together, but when there is a need for direction, she will


rise to the occasion. “She is a skilled observer of the group dynamic and navigates several roles among her peers,” Call said of Dale. Dale also stands her ground when necessary on issues she feels have not been completely sussed out. Call says Dale’s attitude is bright no matter where she goes. Obviously, students benefit from Dale’s influence, as she searches for ways to aid her fellow pupils. “She is always generous with her time and her skills; happy to help,” Call shared. Call also said that even when Hailey dislikes a subject or struggles with it, she works through it anyway. Seeing these qualities in a sixth grader is very encouraging and rare, given the distractions of our culture and the age group. Her influence on her teacher, being strong enough to command her nomination, speaks volumes about Dale’s character and hard work.

Name: Hailey Dale School: Huachuca City School Grade: 6

Brayden Kamachi



Academic All Star Nomination

rayden Kamachi is known for his positivity and stellar personality. The fifth grader was nominated for the Academic All Star award by General Myer’s physical education teacher, Ginger Beaman. “Brayden’s positivity continues to shine and spread throughout the classroom,” Beaman said, nominating the youngster with pleasure. Kamachi was described as, “a bright young man who confidently takes on any challenges presented to him.” His mom, Pearly Kamachi, describes him as a funny, kind-hearted, detailoriented, smart, hard-working individual who is conscientious of others and loves to help. Though only in fifth grade, Kamachi has already proven himself as a hard worker who is dedicated to learning. His academic skills include outstanding spelling and reading, and he has gained a reputation as an excellent creative writer. In math, Kamachi displays a constant willingness to learn. Through tackling new ideas and techniques, he has developed into a strong problem solver. Kamachi’s grades attest to his academic accomplishments — the young man has made all A’s, earning himself a place on the Principal’s Honor Roll for two quarters straight. Kamachi’s time in elementary school is almost at an end and the young man is mostly excited for what comes next. “I feel great,” said Kamachi, “but a little nervous about starting middle school.” Fortunately,

this all-star enjoys learning new things and making new friends. Those around him speak highly of his company and upbeat attitude. “His lighthearted personality is loved by all,” said Beaman. He has a caring nature and works well with others, respecting peers and teachers alike. In class, Kamachi is an active participant, answering questions and engaging in class discussion. He is the type of student you can count on — well behaved, focused, and responsible. At home, Kamachi continues to impress those around him. “No matter how frustrated or difficult something is, whether with school, work, or trying something new, Brayden never gives up and always gives it his all,” said his mom. “He’s resilient and just plain amazing!” Kamachi’s hobbies include collecting pencils, building forts, and playing video games. When he grows up, the fifth grader said he wants to be a YouTube influencer.

Academic All Star Nomination Name: Brayden Kamachi School: General Myer Elementary Grade: 5 Extra Curriculars: building forts, video games



hristopher Chavez Jr., is a fourth grader at Greenway Elementary School in Bisbee. Deni Austin nominated Chavez because of his hard work and the incredible show of support he has given his class during this hard time. He has earned a 3.9 GPA. Both his teacher and fellow students have benefited from Christopher’s technological expertise. He has shown them how to upload their work and has even assisted them in accessing what needed to be completed during their struggles while learning remotely. This amount of effort, given from an elementary school student, out of love for his class and education itself is something very unique. At his core, Christopher is an individual who puts others’ needs first constantly; this is a rare thing for young children to do and testifies to the quality of his raising. Chavez thrives in many pursuits in his life, including cooking, science, writing, and sports; his hobbies are extensive. As to his

Academic All Star Nomination Name: Christopher Chavez Jr. School: Greenway Elementary GPA: 3.9 Extra Curricular: cooking, science, writing and sports

love for science, Austin explained, “He loves to explore and will ask questions that show his eagerness to gain more insight about concepts in the science field.” Chavez is also a Boys and Girls Club participant. Chavez is also known as a leader in all of his pursuits, pushing forward to do his best. “Chris is also very kind hearted, and is thought highly of by his classmates,” according to Austin, who praises him for the lasting impact he leaves on his fellow students. Chavez does amazing in his subjects, never fearing too much knowledge. This desire to know more is another rare find in an elementary student: his drive is unparalleled. It also seems to not be forced.


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Oldemar Castillo


ldemar Castillo is known as a very kind soul who is friendly to everybody and excels in academia. For the second year in a row, this stellar third grader has earned a nomination for the Academic All Star award. “I could not be prouder of this student,” said his teacher and nominator, Deborah Paul. Castillo, at only nine years old, already takes his studies very seriously. Through his dedication to completing his assignments on time, following the directions to the nose, and practicing neat and legible handwriting, Castillo has maintained a 3.85 GPA. What may be most impressive is that the budding scholar is extraordinarily selfmotivated. “He’s been straight-A’s since I can remember and it’s all him — I help very little,” said his mom, Jeanette Paz. Every day in class, Castillo displays leadership skills. With an aptitude for listening attentively and following directions, he is a constant role model for other students. When a classmate is struggling with a lesson or assignment, Castillo does what he can to help. “He will explain things to other students in a soft tone that makes them feel comfortable,” said Paul. Castillo also brings an excitement for education. “He

loves learning new concepts,” said Paz, citing science and math as her son’s favorite subjects. Outside of the classroom, Castillo continues to be an all-star. If frustrations erupt on the playground, the third grader finds a way to calm tempers and redirect the students involved. And when he sees somebody having a tough day, he approaches them and checks in. “A remarkable quality Oldemar displays is his desire to do what needs to be done without being asked,” said Paul. “His gentle demeanor shows in his respect for the rights of others.” Or, in the words of his mom, “He just has such a good heart.” Castillo’s skills also shine in his practice of the martial arts. Currently, he is a brown belt in karate and attends karate classes weekly. Here, he strengthens his self-control through practice and dedication. These skills translate well to another love of his — drawing. Castillo loves drawing comic strips and illustrating. “He just sits down and does guided drawings,” said Paz. “He has journals and journals of drawings at home.” So when Castillo’s teacher taught the class cursive, the young artist was ready. Within weeks he was signing his name with


Academic All Star Nomination Name: Oldemar Castillo School: Huachuca City School Grade: 3 Extra Curriculars: Karate, drawing

Kevin Anaya



flourishes that Paul described as “a complete work of art.” A huge part of Castillo’s life and inspiration is his family. The nineyear-old loves hanging out with his two stepbrothers, spending time with his older sister, gardening with his Nana Stars, and being a brunkle (a term Castillo came up with, meaning brother-uncle) to his two-year-old nephew. And, of course, Castillo loves cuddling with his mom.

Academic All Star Nomination Name: Kevin Anaya School: Sarah Marley Elementary School Grade: 2 Extra Curriculars: Swimming

evin Anaya makes friends everywhere he goes. He is known to be caring, kind, thoughtful, and always happy. The second grader already displays a great love of learning—and an impressive aptitude for it. Nominated by his aunt to be an Academic All Star, Anaya is described as a smart, charismatic, and an all-around excellent child. “Anaya has always been adamant do well in school,” said his mother, Andrea Sandoval. The eight-yearold sets his own goals, such as to get straight A’s, and is extremely proud whenever he accomplishes an objective. He is always striving to do better and challenging himself to improve. Reading is Anaya’s favorite subject, and one in which he excels. The second grader reads anything and everything, even the signs he passes on his way to school. Still, he pushes himself to improve this skill, learning bigger and more complex words. And when a fellow classmate struggles, Anaya is there to help. He leads by example and always tries to be on his best behavior. Outside of the classroom, Anaya loves to swim. Before the pandemic, he took swimming classes at Douglas

High School every summer. “He’d swim all summer,” said Sandoval. These days, he spends his time outside of classes playing with his sister and their two puppies or riding scooters with his neighbor. Through all the pandemic’s hardships, Anaya was an inspiration in his positive outlook. Anaya’s aunt said though his family suffered illness and even losses of loved ones, Anaya kept his great attitude towards learning. He uplifts adults through his engaging conversations and helps however he can. “He’s thoughtful, always thinking about other people,” said Sandoval. At such a young age, Anaya is already an independent thinker and budding scholar, called by his family “a small adult.” Kevin’s family is full of pride for the eight-year-old and are excited to see what the future holds for him. “He’s just a very loving child,” said Sandoval. “Everyone that I’ve known really enjoys talking to him, because of the way he talks and expresses himself and shows concern for other people.” When the second grader found out he had been nominated as an Academic All Star, he was excited and extremely proud.



cademic All-Star Edward Felder is a first grader at Colonel Johnston Elementary School. He was nominated by his teacher, Dayna Mauzy, who is also a 2021 Golden Apple honoree. Edward is “meeting or exceeding all standards” in his classes. Mauzy praised Felder in her nomination after recognizing how much students have struggled since the beginning of the pandemic. She made it clear that his character is the reason for her recommendation, saying that he is “extremely kind, compassionate, honest, responsible and humble.” Mauzy also praised his determination, both educationally and outside of school. “His level of positivity and self-motivation is unmatched and has allowed him to excel academically in all subject areas,” Dayna commented. Many students voted for Felder to be class president; his teacher speaks highly of his ability to lead others in a positive, effective manner. Felder is successful in sports as

well, playing football. “I have had the pleasure of watching a few of his football games and have been impressed by his outstanding displays of sportsmanship, win or lose,” Mauzy said. His show of leadership continues at home, where he encourages a love for education with his younger brother Nicolas. Edward’s supportive attention is the kind that, when given by a big brother, will foster the same qualities in Nicholas. Edward also makes it a point to spend quality time with his parents, taking on responsibility through assistance with cooking and cleaning. This first-grader is a shining example of diligence, and as Mauzy mentioned, humility. Mauzy finished her nomination with pride in her words; she enjoys being able to be a part of his life. “Edward is a truly well-rounded student who demonstrates excellence in academics, extracurricular activities, and at home.”


Edward Felder


Academic All Star Nomination Name: Edward Felder School: Colonel Johnston Elementary School Grade: 1 Extra Curriculars: Football




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he moment Karen Sayers first stood in front of a class, around 21 years ago, she knew she was in the right place. Sayers is what her colleague, Pamela Johnson, calls a born teacher — someone with, “the heart and empathy that is necessary to nurture learners to discover for themselves.” Sayers approaches teaching with a growth-mindset, humor, imagination, and an approachable, friendly personality. Her multitude of skills and talents have earned her the respect of countless students, colleagues, and community members. This year, they have also earned her the Crystal Apple Award. Sayers did not always know she wanted to be a teacher. When she first started college, she studied Zoology and even interned at veterinary clinics. But she had lost her excitement for the major, finding herself instead drawn to a friend’s studies in the education department. “I found I was more interested in what she was doing than what I was doing,” Sayers recalled. She took an Intro to Education class, then a course on child psychology. “I really enjoyed it and I got excited,” she said. “I just made the decision to go into education.” Sayers was hooked. What followed was an impressive teaching career. Initially, Sayers went into elementary education, where she flourished for years. As her own children grew older, however, Sayers felt she needed to change. Three years ago, she made the move to teach eighth grade math at Joyce Clark Middle School. There, once more, Sayers found herself in exactly the right position almost by accident. Though Sayers has always enjoyed math, she initially interviewed for a social studies position instead. The principal, however, had another idea. “When I interviewed, my principal started talking to me about math,” she said. “He told me, ‘you’re a math teacher and you don’t even know it.’” Sayers describes her goal as to help her students to get rid of the mentality that they are not good in math. “I love making math as engaging and relevant as possible,” the teacher said. She forges connections between the students and the lessons, uncovering realworld applications with a myriad of resources, including movies, songs, and even podcasts. “We talk about when you go to the grocery store, when you go to the movies,” Sayers said. “What has to go on behind the scenes to make that happen — most of it is math-related.” Her growth-mindset approach to teaching means it is never a matter of if a student can learn the concepts, but when. Sayers doesn’t just expect her students to do all the learning — she is constantly pushing herself to grow as well. “I’m very fascinated with how the brain learns, so I’m constantly learning new things about that,” said Sayers, whose masters is in curriculum and curriculum design. “I’ve never been that teacher that can just pull out her lesson from last year and do that.” For Sayer’s, 2020 was an opportunity to learn how to incorporate more technology into her now-remote classroom. She managed to make remote learning as engaging as possible, finding ways to still hold her students accountable for learning. It worked — Sayers reported she still had kids saying they loved coming to her class, even online. The math teacher’s credentials go far beyond the immediate classroom. She has been part of a long list of extracurricular projects, spanning from producing a yearend student musical and organizing an annual all-day camp in her elementary-teaching days, to her current role as advisor for the National Junior Honor Society. “Outside of the classroom, both at her school and the district level, Karen has become a respected member of the Sierra Vista Unified Schools community,” said Johnson. The time and energy Sayers has dedicated to her students and community helped to create an environment where all can laugh and thrive. “Karen, throughout her teaching career, has worked diligently and with deep empathy, to lead all the students in her classes to their highest potential,” said Johnson. Student testimonies such as, “you made it a year I’ll never forget,” or, “I couldn’t have passed without your help,” attest to this Crystal Apple’s exhaustive list of merits; Sayers is a teacher for the history books.


ndrea Barallardos was nominated as one of this year’s Golden Apples because of the outstanding effort, perseverance and creativity she brings to the workplace. Barallardos teaches several engineering and physics classes at Douglas High School. Outside of school hours, she also helps students tap into their mechanical and creative sides as an advisor for an after school program called SkillsUSA. On top of both of these time-consuming, student centered feats, this teacher is also the manager of the school’s award-winning Spirit Line. Barallardos was nominated by one of her colleagues, Martha Alonso, who has observed her passionate dedication towards her students firsthand. Alonso, a former student of this Golden Apple honoree, describes the fervor with which Barallardos teaches her students, as well as the continually creative techniques she uses to keep them interested despite the challenge of our current hour: online instruction. “As an educator, she is always looking for innovative

ways to engage her students while challenging them,” says Alonso. She goes on to say that Barallardos’ online courses are fashioned in a video game type style, encouraging students to complete coursework in order to “level up.” Her 20 years of teaching experience enable this seasoned teacher to offer instruction that’s bullet-proof. Alonso’s comments make it obvious that Barallardos’ heartfelt conviction is a lifeline for the steadfast and active education this school provides; even the family members of students want to participate in her projects. Alonso praises her further, saying, “Mrs. Barallardos... is innovative, charismatic, energetic and a pillar at DHS.” She continuously strives to improve her teaching methods, trying new and different ways to reach her students. Barallardos is an inspiration to her students, as well as teachers and educators everywhere looking to encourage students to pursue their dreams. It is clear in Alonso’s testimony that Barallardos’ influence has already helped set her own teaching career up for success.


Andrea Barrallardos



Cole Colvin


greeting parents and students during pick-up and drop-off times. He even became a staple on the playground, joining the students to play during recess. For one nominator, these interactions with the students were a testament to his leadership skills. “They do not fear him but respect him and they are excited and thrilled when they get to interact with him,” the nominator wrote. Through time and effort, Colvin has similarly won the support of many parents. He communicates with students’ families constantly, sending out a weekly email filled with information and updates. He always makes the room in his schedule, often at the cost of personal time, to meet with parents and PTO. “Even while being virtual, he always had constant communication and made himself available if any parents needed help with their students,” said Maritza Bradley. And that was all while dealing with a life-shaking pandemic during his first year as principal. Cole Colvin rose to the occasion, inspiring students, staff, and families to keep giving it their best. “Continually

during this pandemic Mr. Colvin has set the example of perseverance in difficult situations which is beneficial for our children to see,” said Valdez. “Mr. Colvin doesn’t just expect greatness, he examples it.” With a love for learning, outstanding communication, and his hallmark huge smile, Principal Colvin has quickly created a school environment where students flourish, teachers are appreciated, and parents

feel comfortable. “In a very short period of time, Mr. Colvin has made Village Meadows a great place to go to school and learn,” wrote one nominator. As Sanchez said, “He is truly an amazing person and we feel so lucky to have gotten him as a principal this year.” This is Colvin’s second Golden Apple honor. He also earned a Golden Apple in 2018 as the Buena High School girls basketball coach.


illage Meadows Elementary got a new principal this academic year, and they couldn’t be happier — the Golden Apple award nominations for the new principal, Cole Colvin, kept rolling in. In his short time in the position, Colvin has already transformed the elementary school for the better and earned the respect and trust of students, staff, and families. Colvin’s enthusiasm, positive attitude, and dedication have helped him become an outstanding principal, meriting glowing praise and recognition. “Village Meadows has been in need of the right leader for quite some time and Mr. Colvin is it,” wrote one anonymous nominator. Similar sentiments were repeated again and again. “Principal Colvin exhibits all criteria of what a principal should,” said Deanna Valdez. Rebeca Sanchez wrote, “Mr. Colvin has been an amazing principal. In only one year of being a principal, he has changed the community at school and students are loving him.” When school was in-person, Colvin became a familiar smiling face



Joanie Duarte


or ten years, Joanie Duarte has been actively forming the next generation of scholars, teaching preschool at Stevenson Elementary School. This year, she was nominated by husband Jesus Duarte for the Golden Apple Award. “Ms. Joanie’s purpose for her students is to instill in them a love for school and learning,” said Jesus Duarte. “She does it through music, social interactions, empathy, empowerment and, of course, through play.” Duarte is not your stereotypical preschool teacher — she takes her students’ play seriously. “Play is hard work for her littles and much learning happens in such an environment,” said her husband. Through such an environment, Duarte strives to equip all her young students with the social skills they need to succeed. Her goal is to ensure the preschoolers are all prepared for a successful transition to kindergarten. When COVID drove her students to remote learning, Duarte stepped up to the challenge. Tasked with teaching and engaging three to


five-year-olds through a screen, Duarte manages to hold her students to the same expectations as before. She dove into online classes confident that her students could still thrive in the new environment. Her creativity, organization, and thoroughness ensured that they did. Now, her husband reports, Duarte’s students are showing their ability to participate successfully online. One of Duarte’s keys to success has been her routines. At the beginning and end of each class, she makes sure each student is greeted by everyone else. In this way, the children are immediately engaged and held accountable for the duration of the lesson. “It’s great community building at a time when the students haven’t seen each other in person,” said Jesus Duarte. The preschool teacher also set up weekly ‘buddy meetings.’ In these alternative classes, only two students meet with Duarte and the students’ parents. In the intimate setting, they are better able to work on skills and learn together. Both in person and online,

special needs and is a constant advocate. Duarte’s dedication and enthusiasm are apparent in all she does. Her friendly face can be found singing and signing in videos she creates for the district’s preschool program’s YouTube channel. Whether it’s in person or online, Duarte fills her classes with music and books, ensuring tomorrow’s scholars get the best possible start.

Julie Enriquez



Duarte creates a learning environment that is accessible to all types of learners. Many of the songs she uses in her lesson incorporate sign language and she designs her classrooms with special needs students in mind. Duarte is also the go-to person for working with autistic students in elementary schools, according to her husband. She acts as a coach for teachers and paraprofessionals alike who work with students with

ulia Enriquez can — and does — do it all. She has filled multiple roles as a paraprofessional for Huachuca City School, is president of the Parent-Teacher Organization, a single mother of two exceptional daughters, and the unofficial caretaker of the school’s entire staff. Huachuca City School’s Assistant Principal, Jeanette Paz, enthusiastically nominated Enriquez for the Golden Apple award. “It gives me a great deal of pleasure to write this nomination for one of our paraprofessionals, Julie Enriquez,” her nomination began. “She truly is an asset to our HCS family, and we are thankful for everything she brings to our school.” Four years ago, Enriquez started at the school as a preschool aide. Over the summers, she would work the same halls as a custodian. Last year, she was the first person asked to serve as a long-term substitute for one of the school’s kindergarten classes, when the kindergarten population significantly increased. Now, this year, she’s back helping with preschool, where her skills and presence were sorely missed. The paraprofessional displays an impressive aptitude for the position, described by the preschool teachers as “caring and nurturing with all children.” “Julie instinctively knows what each child needs: a hug, encouragement, or firmness,” said Paz. “Her intuition is on point in the classroom.” Enriquez can just look at a lesson plan and know how the room should be set up

and which materials to prep. She delivers each day’s curriculum effectively and efficiently, thrilling the teachers and students alike. In the words of Paz, “her patience and loving attitude towards the students gives the classroom a loving and warm atmosphere.” “Although she is a single mother, Julie finds a way to manage work and home like a boss,” said Paz. But Enriquez’s attentions extend past her daughters and students. “She doesn’t only take care of her girls; she takes care of the staff,” said the assistant principal. Julie brings delicious, home-cooked meals for the entire staff on a weekly basis and is constantly giving where and how she can. She is known to be, “the first in line to lend a helping hand,” according to Paz. If there was one word to describe her, it would be “selfless.” As PTO president for the past two years, Enriquez has dedicated countless hours to coordinate and prepare family events. For each occasion, the paraprofessional buys, cooks, and even serves all of the food and drink. Through her work, every event, like movie nights or the school’s Fall Festival, brings together families and fosters the school’s community. “Julie is an effective communicator and has earned the respect from our children, parents, and teaching staff,” said Paz. “Julie has a wonderful disposition; she always has a smile on her face and a positive outlook on life. She has a servant’s heart, and we are blessed by her presence.”

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Timothy Ingold G

olden Apple honoree Timothy Ingold is a film teacher at Buena High School and was nominated by one of his students. The nomination was filled with all the inspiration of a student that has been encouraged to push forward and take hold of her dreams. Ingold’s direction emboldened Faith Henry to pursue even more classes in film art, and her writing reflects a creative mind set free. Prior to taking his class, she had yet to really get the creative bearing or the confidence she would need to pursue authorship. Interestingly enough, she did not pick Ingold’s class out of her own free will, but wound up enjoying it all the same. Because of his influence, Henry now knows what she wants to study in college. Instead of becoming an author, she will seek a degree in film. Henry also mentioned that Ingold’s method of teaching helped her to succeed in her other classes as well, imparting a desire for knowledge that


Maureen Johnston



aureen Johnston found out that she had been nominated for the Golden Apple Award while on a video call for one of her University of Arizona Masters’ Degree classes. “I was on the video call and everyone in our class started messaging me with lots of congratulations,” Johnston said. “I really had no idea what they were talking about. It seemed like everyone else knew before I did. I was completely shocked! Johnston was nominated for the Golden Apple Award for many reasons but mostly for the positive impact she has had on her students. “She has created a love for learning in her classroom through her enthusiasm and dedication to getting her students academically ready for the challenges lying ahead,” Willcox Middle School principal David Chaim said. “She focuses not only on the academic aspects of the student but on the student as a whole.” Johnston’s first teaching job was in Gangneung, South Korea. Combining her love for world travel with her love of teaching, she spent two years teaching K-6 grade English as a foreign language. Returning to the United States after her two years in South Korea, Johnston accepted a position at Willcox Middle School where she teaches 7th grade English and 7th and 8th grade journalism. In her 7th grade English classes, Johnston often

has student-lead discussions, writing reflections, and vocabulary building. “We always have a ‘word of the day’,” she said. “It’s something fun that we can talk about.” Her journalism classes create both the middle school yearbook and a monthly online school newsletter. The newsletter is sent to everyone at the school and there is an additional link on the school’s website. She has student editors and her students write all the articles, either by themselves or with partners. The class also discusses journalistic topics, including the history of journalism, copyright laws, and other important aspects of the curriculum. Johnston’s dedication to her students is evident. “She will work with her students in the morning, lunch hour, and twice a week after school,” Chaim said. “She does this because she has the students’ best interests at heart. She provides them with excellent reading materials, elements of grammar, and writing. Her hard work, demeanor, and dedication to what she does in our school has earned the respect of her students inside and outside the classroom.” As she continues to teach and inspire her Willcox Middle School students, Johnston looks not only at where they are now but where they can be in the future. “Everyone is full of potential,” Johnston said. “They just need the drive to keep going and doing good things. I love bringing back the wonder of learning to them.”

she has not previously experienced. Ingold continues to study film even as he instructs it. Henry is impressed by how much Ingold cares for his students and strives to involve them, despite fiscal challenges that could prevent some from enjoying SkillsUSA, an extracurricular club, and especially despite the global pandemic. She comments on this, as well as on the quality of his teaching.“I think that’s the thing that sets Mr. Ingold furthest apart from the rest...He’s currently learning the industry standards just as we are, further along but still in the mindset of someone who’s learning. It translates seamlessly into the curriculum he teaches and the way he teaches it, full of variety and life but still digestible and memorable to those experiencing it.” Given his steadfastly increasing curriculum, his devotion to his pupils and the passion with which Henry writes her nomination, Ingold is sure to push even more students towards success.


can say without a shadow of a doubt that Michael LaBrecque is the most engaging teacher I have ever met,” said Buena High School student Katriana Woods in her glowing review of the teacher. Woods nominated the Emergency Medical Services teacher for the Golden Apple award because, “I truly feel that I have learned valuable lessons,” the high schooler said. After decades of working for the Fry Fire District as a paramedic and captain, LaBrecque has discovered a talent for teaching. For the past five years, the former-fire fighter has been building an EMS program at Buena High through the support of colleagues, students, family, and more. His classroom has been nicknamed ‘Fire Station 1413’ and become a place where high schoolers can learn life-saving techniques and earn certifications such as in CPR and bloodborne pathogens. The classroom is now equipped with a kitchen, a porch, and is stocked with advanced equipment and technology. In Woods’ three years attending LaBrecque’s EMS course, she said

she has learned and retained a “bountiful amount of information,” more than in any other class. LaBrecque’s lessons are not only interesting, they are critical to her future as an aspiring emergency medical technician and paramedic. Luckily, Woods had LaBrecque’s engaging class to help launch her into her future career. “He has a way of grabbing your attention and keeping you mesmerized in your work,” said Woods. “It’s a handson experience type of class and I couldn’t have loved it more.” LaBrecque’s years of experience in the paramedic field have equipped him with unique knowledge, resources, and tools with which to conduct his lessons. Woods said the retired firefighter taught the students the basics, then went above and beyond to teach what it is like outside of a book. “He accomplished so much, and taking all his wisdom, he brought it to us, and he brought it to teaching.” For that, Woods said, she is eternally grateful to him. These outside-the-book experiences incorporated many off-campus activities, such as a leadership

campout and a collaboration with Cochise College, where LeBrecque’s students taught first aid to the college’s staff members. And, of course, some firestation activities as well. “It’s such an important class,” said Woods. “Everyday I


Michael LaBrecque


looked forward to going to his class, there was never a dull moment.” The student said LeBrecque is truly the most incredible teacher she has ever seen. “I can’t fathom having to learn anything about Emergency Medicine without him.”


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Kelly Mangan


elly Mangan is the principal of S.K.I.L.L.S. Private Academy in Sierra Vista. She gave life to her vision of building and running the school, which uniquely caters to all the requirements of students with special needs. She has poured hours of effort into designing her school in order to set these children up for success in life, with the help of Mark Mangan, her husband. With 30 years of teaching experience, Mangan is excellently qualified to lead S.K.I.L.L.S. Private Academy, which has been open since 2019. The one-of-a-kind setting the school has is something Mangan recognized would truly help these students. Nominated by the Harrington family, they described how driven Mangan is to help students with special needs. She spends time in the classrooms and around campus, regularly interacting with her students. Her involvement is critical and immersive, key to the school’s success. Kelly Mangan is also a


Dayna Mauzy



olden Apple Dayna Mauzy was nominated three times for this award. She teaches first grade at Colonel Johnston Elementary School on Fort Huachuca. Cortney Rogers nominated Mauzy for the award because of the personalized attention and age-friendly assignments she gives her students. Rogers says Mauzy is focused on making sure her students feel accomplished and secure knowing that they will reach their goals, even if they are something that they aren’t able to do until they are older. According to Rogers, “She is very encouraging and makes each child feel loved. She promotes good behavior in the classroom and even at home.” Mauzy was also nominated by the Everetts, the family of one of her students. Their nomination speaks to the effectiveness of Mauzy’s teaching; she not only helps each student herself, but teaches them to encourage other students to seek out the tutoring they need. This creates a support system for each pupil. Her parent-teacher communication skills are spot on as well. She consciously addresses issues and resolves them for the benefit of everyone involved, and allows her teaching style to be modified with the help of the parents’ advice. According to the Everetts, “Mauzy

understands that every child has different learning skills and she adapts to each individual child. With all that is going on in our world today she has made it an easy transition from in school to virtual to in school again for both her students as well as the families.” The Gilberts are in awe of Mrs. Mauzy’s attention to detail, both in the style of her classroom and in her time with her students. Mauzy shows incredible enthusiasm with her students, according to the Gilberts. Their daughter, Ellie, has been Mauzy’s student twice now; she was also in her kindergarten class. Their nomination is filled with examples of Mauzy’s approach towards teaching, such as “growing the Grinch’s heart” by writing down positive actions and placing them in a jar. She is constantly encouraging; the Gilberts have also testified to the clear line of communication she keeps with the families of her students in order to continuously improve her teaching. “Every one of her students [is] surfing the Mrs. Mauzy knowledge tsunami with Mauzy as their biggest supporter. She would never let her students get wiped out on the beach because she cares far too much to let that happen,” the Gilberts continue, multiplying their praises of this amazing teacher.

jack of all trades, covering several areas if the need arises. A specific area mentioned in her nomination, a garden, that was designed by her and Mark, is one of the features that the school uses to keep the kids involved in outdoor activities. There is also unique equipment at the school which encourages her kids to think outside the box. Much of Mangan’s curriculum focuses on life skills. The Harringtons’ stated that she makes it a point to use an Individual Education Program (IEP) with her pupils. She uses the resources she has at hand to meet the individual needs of the children at her school, including therapy of different types if necessary. The Harrington’s added, “During these COVID times she [Mangan] quickly headed up plans to make sure the kids came first and let the parents choose what they felt comfortable with for in person learning or virtual learning or a combination of both.”