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Fantastic Individuals Make D49 Fantastic

Robert Sparks receives an award during Fantastic 49.

D49 celebrated fantastic staff, students and community members during the Fantastic 49 presentation on Nov. 9 at Creekside Success Center.

Central registration employees Heidi Evans, Suzanne Clift and Stefanie Trollope were honored first for their support of military-connected families. “Many times, the central registration team is the first interaction families have with District 49. It is vital that the registration team understand the unique requirements that surround a military-connected move,” Suzanne Teke, Military Student Transition Consultant, shared in her nomination. “We often have families moving in from overseas. The enrollment team must work with families to determine registration criteria, facilitate records transfers, and allow for flexible timelines that quickly change. This vital work prevents our military-connected students from experiencing significant interruptions in learning, as well as enables our military members to remain mission ready.”

Jessica Cole, Alison Kiselich and Leslie Chase, staff from Inspiration View Elementary School, were thanked for implementing the Anchored4Life Program to help students build character and resiliency skills. “Anchored4Life is a military-funded program that supports not only our large number of military students at IVES, but all students. It’s near and dear to my heart as a military mom,” said Pam Holloman, Principal. “They diligently work alongside students developing their leadership skills. Just this morning, we had two new students arrive for their first day of school. Two student leaders were at the front office early to greet both the students and their parents. There was an immediate smile on the students’ faces as they felt welcomed.”

IVES principal speaks about her team members during Fantastic 49.

Evans Elementary PTA member Kim Beckworth helped recognize Karen Hobson, community member with the El Paso Council PTA, for serving as a pillar of support for the PTA and many other district committees. “Karen upholds our valued cultural compass and Big Rocks more than anyone I know,” said Beckworth. “Karen lives and breathes PTA. She truly values everyone in our community. Evans now has a PTA. We had a rocky start, but with Karen’s guidance we have been on track. She jumps in with everything she has, and I want her to know how very much she is appreciated.”

Lauren Stuart, Sand Creek Zone Community Liaison, was thanked for serving as a perfect example of engaging the community. She leads the student board of representatives, launched a family resource center, and plays a key role on many district committees. “Lauren is a vital part of D49 and our community. When I hear the quote, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world,’ people like Lauren come to mind,” said Michelle Kemp, Chair for Neighbors for Education. “I want to share my deep gratitude for Lauren Stuart and all the great things she does for D49.” Dustin Horras, Sand Creek Zone Superintendent, added, “Lauren’s real passion is she wants our schools to be successful, and she is willing to do anything at any time. She manages a lot of things at once, and she gets them all done.”

Robert Sparks, General Education Router in the transportation department, was honored for doing whatever it takes to help a family at Woodmen Hills Elementary School secure busing services for their student. He went to the school to talk with the mother in her native language of Spanish, and helped them set up a parent portal account. “He went above and beyond to help this new family feel welcomed, cared for, and respected. It truly was one of the kindest things I have ever experienced in all my years in D49,” Karen Greene, administrative assistant at WHES, wrote in her nomination. Jack Pietraallo, Director of Transportation, added, “I’ve worked with Robert for 15 years, and I can tell you Robert has been doing things like this for all of those years.”

Karen Hobson receives a Fantastic 49 award.

The evening wrapped up by recognizing two Falcon Middle School students and a bus driver who demonstrated heroic efforts in a crisis situation. Earlier this year, Nicholas Kamysz and Isabella Carrasco, students; and Brittany Diamanti, bus driver, were heading to school when they discovered another student on the bus was having a seizure. Nicholas alerted Diamanti of the situation, and Isabella operated the radio to communicate with dispatchers and emergency personnel. “These folks right here are the epitome of love, respect, care and compassion. It proves that we are growing leaders in District 49,” said Pietraallo.  “They all deserve recognition for what they did.”

Fantastic 49 is the district's recognition program that celebrates fantastic staff, students, parents, and community members before Board of Education meetings. A sincere thank you to Air Academy Credit Union, Dion's, and Texas Roadhouse for donating gift cards for honorees.


Lauren Stuart is honored during Fantastic 49 on Nov. 9.. Central registration staff are recognized during Fantastic 49.. Bus driver and students are thanked during Fantastic 49.


Amy Matisek