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D49 Applauds Top Team Members at Year-End Celebration

Plaques for honorees

More than 200 friends, family members and colleagues gathered to recognize District 49’s Employees of the Year for 2023 on May 17 at Creekside Success Center. D49 honored 67 total staff members at the event, and you can watch the video of the complete Employees of the Year Celebration here.

Randy Brungardt, special education paraeducator at Inspiration View Elementary, opened festivities with a live performance of the national anthem. Zone and district leaders joined in the celebration to share remarks from each honoree’s nomination, and members of the board of education were present to congratulate each employee.

“We are here today to recognize wonderful people … those who perform beyond expectations,” said John Graham, president of the board of education. “I am so greatly honored to represent this community on this board of education and represent all of you. What you all do is harder than what I did in the Marine Corps … what you do makes a difference in a lot of students’ lives. I am one of the biggest fans of District 49, of educators, custodians, bus drivers, lunch ladies, front office help, support, and facilities and maintenance … thank you for being where you are, you are needed in front of students. Thank you so much for everything you do.”

Peter Hilts, superintendent, addresses crowd at event.

In its third year, the event has become tradition with an honoree list that includes Teachers of the Year; Support Stars, which include roles such as facilities technicians, paraeducators and secretaries; and Service Stars, which represent positions such as school counselors and physical therapists. Honorees were nominated by their supervisors or school principals.

“This is absolutely one of the best nights of the year … the reason we do this night is because of great leadership from our workforce on behalf of our workforce. Our teachers and colleagues started telling us we’ve got to do a better job recognizing the incredible work of our peers,” Peter Hilts, superintendent, said. “It has been a treasure to see this event grow into what it’s become. I especially want to honor the support and leadership from our board of education. They’re all here … I thank all five of you for making this important in D49 by your presence.”

Congratulations to the following members of Team 49 who were honored as Employees of the Year for 2023.

Service Stars who Serve Multiple Schools & Staff from Individualized Education:
Michael Duke, physical therapist who serves districtwide—Service Star
Amy Lamb, physical therapy assistant who serves districtwide—Service Star
Megan Mucciolo, school psychologist who serves districtwide—Service Star
Lena Orcutt, school nurse who serves Falcon High School, Patriot High School and districtwide—Service Star
Sarah Rieves, community engagement advocate in the Sand Creek Zone—Service Star
Heather Salas, speech language pathologist who serves PEAK Education Center, Grand Peak Academy and as speech language pathology co-lead—Service Star
Lori Wilson, braillist who serves districtwide—Service Star
Breanna Ozburn, special education teacher at PEAK Education Center—Teacher of the Year
TJ Parker, paraeducator at PEAK Education Center—Support Star
Diane Webb, BASE49 program lead—Support Star
Anita Patton, early childhood education administrative assistant—Support Star

Teachers of the Year, Service Stars & Support Stars from the Sand Creek Zone:
Becky Lentner, second grade teacher at Evans Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Trisha Butler, third grade teacher at Remington Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Janet Griffith, special education significant support needs teacher at Springs Ranch Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Cassidy Bradley, school counselor at Springs Ranch Elementary—Service Star
Jessica Puckett, kindergarten teacher at Stetson Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Cristina Locke, special education paraeducator at Stetson Elementary—Support Star
Courtney Hutchinson, sixth grade teacher at Horizon Middle School—Teacher of the Year
Alexandra Fanchini, culturally and linguistically diverse education paraeducator at Horizon Middle School—Support Star
Thora Norman, special education teacher at Sand Creek High School—Teacher of the Year
Ytzel Lugo, culturally and linguistically diverse education paraeducator at Sand Creek High School—Support Star

Teachers of the Year, Service Stars & Support Stars from the Falcon Zone:
Ashley Richter, fifth grade teacher at Bennett Ranch Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Julie Vignery, special education paraeducator at Bennett Ranch Elementary—Support Star
Rita Engelhart, first grade teacher at Falcon Elementary School of Technology—Teacher of the Year
Stephanie Ramirez, family liaison at Falcon Elementary School of Technology—Support Star
Catherine David, fourth grade teacher at Meridian Ranch Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Gretchen King, special education paraeducator at Meridian Ranch Elementary—Support Star
Jamie Mitchell, first grade teacher at Woodmen Hills Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Connie Leavitt, nutrition services manager at Woodmen Hills Elementary—Support Star
Braden Smart, band and choir teacher at Falcon Middle School—Teacher of the Year
Michelle Lang, registrar at Falcon Middle School—Support Star
Brooke Neilson, world language teacher at Falcon High School—Teacher of the Year
Courtney Morrison, school counselor at Falcon High School—Service Star
Rhea Derosier, counseling secretary at Falcon High School—Support Star
Sharon Guy, administrative assistant for the Falcon Zone—Support Star

Teachers of the Year, Service Stars & Support Stars from the POWER Zone:
Sara Scroggins, certified academic language therapist at ALLIES—Teacher of the Year
Marlene Pitts, paraeducator at ALLIES—Support Star
Kelli Kapfer, fourth grade teacher at Inspiration View Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Sarah Nash, special education paraeducator at Inspiration View Elementary—Support Star
Anne Wade, special education teacher at Odyssey Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Tammy Alesch, attendance secretary at Odyssey Elementary—Support Star
Brittney Schantz, kindergarten teacher at Ridgeview Elementary—Teacher of the Year
Briana Lewis, library paraeducator at Ridgeview Elementary—Support Star
Renee Larm, eighth grade science teacher at Skyview Middle School—Teacher of the Year
Rolf Grell, security guard at Skyview Middle School—Support Star
Anneliese Gatlin, math teacher at Vista Ridge High School—Teacher of the Year
Michael Martinez, school counselor at Vista Ridge High School—Service Star
Trevas McFail, lead security officer at Vista Ridge High School—Support Star
Alex Sanders, administrative assistant for the POWER Zone—Support Star

Teachers of the Year, Service Stars & Support Stars from the iConnect Zone:
Sandy Smith, science teacher for the Falcon Homeschool Academic Program—Teacher of the Year
Lindsie Blair, paraeducator for the Falcon Homeschool Academic Program—Support Star
Deirdre Binkley-Jones, math teacher at Patriot High School—Teacher of the Year
Sharon Gwynn, school counselor at Patriot High School—Service Star
Pamela Konz, security guard at Patriot High School—Support Star
Julie Butterworth, science teacher at Pikes Peak Early College—Teacher of the Year
Laura De La Garza, middle school science & electives teacher at Springs Studio for Academic Excellence—Teacher of the Year
Julie Wilkins, high school math teacher at Springs Studio for Academic Excellence—Teacher of the Year
Holly Wilmot, special education support coach at Springs Studio for Academic Excellence—Support Star

Support Stars from Central Office who Serve Districtwide:
Vicky Allmaras, bus paraeducator from D49 Transportation—Support Star
Tiffany Copple, senior staffing specialist in D49’s People & Culture Department—Support Star
Hassie Daron, ESSER Program manager from D49 Learning Services—Support Star
Heather Diaz, accounting manager in D49 Finance Department—Support Star
Beth Dukes, community and facility planning manager from D49 Operations—Support Star
Brittany Jilek, student information system reporting and data analyst from D49’s Data and Performance Department—Support Star
Malinda Reeves, nutrition specialist from D49 Nutrition Services—Support Star
Byron Ruff, small engine technician from D49 Facilities Department—Support Star
Aaron Villescas, marketing and communications specialist from D49 Communications–Support Star

Individualized education honorees.. Attendees celebrate at special event.. Honorees from the Sand Creek Zone.. Board of education at Employees of the Year Celebration.. Honorees from the Falcon Zone.. Refreshments served at the celebration.. Honorees from the POWER Zone.. D49 leaders attend Employees of the Year event.. Honorees from the iConnect Zone.. Stage at special event.. Honorees from central office departments.. Delicious macaroons were served.

Amy Matisek