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Staff, Students Honored for Commitment to Excellence

District 49 has fantastic staff and students, and several of them were recognized and thanked during the district's Fantastic 49 presentation on May 12.

Stephanie Jordan, ALLIES professor, is honored at the May Fantastic 49 celebration.

Stephanie Jordan, English language arts professor at the Academy for Literacy, Learning and Innovation Excellence (ALLIES), received accolades first. "Mrs. Jordan is more than a professor at ALLIES. She is part of the heart and soul of our special little school," shared Rebecca Thompson, director of academic services. "She has a passion for students who need extra love … she believes in our students and celebrates even the smallest growth."

Dr. Nancy Lemmond, executive director of individualized learning, honored Elaine Cunningham, dean of early childhood education, for her dedication to D49. "Elaine's passion for our youngest learners can be witnessed through the beauty of her smile … the warmth of her heart … and the joy and the hugs she gives to both children and staff," Lemmond said. "She is a fierce advocate for our youngest learners, her staff, and parents."

Next in the line-up was another team member from ALLIES, Tara Wold, innovation professor. "Mrs. Wold is one of the wonders of ALLIES that makes the world a better place," said Thompson. "Mrs. Wold has created a world of magic in our innovation lab. She teaches the ordinary standards of science and social studies, but she does it in a way that our students crave. They blossom in ways we have never seen."

Several district administrative assistants also received recognition for their hard work in supporting the VoW (Voice of the Workforce) system. The team includes Barbara Austin-Seeley, Michelle Garrett, Tricia Burley, Michelle Wortkoetter, Jen Kiggins, and Kari Frederick. "As we consider awards, we [as chief officers] are very conscious about awards for those closest to us … I would argue that all of these folks have been underrecognized," said Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer. "This is a great team that provides a lot of guidance and support for us," added Brett Ridgway, chief business officer.

To conclude festivities, Justin Loudon, strength and conditioning coach at Vista Ridge High School, and four student-athletes—Baylea Larson, Tyson Monck, Heila Pearson, and Patrick Sheehan were honored. Loudon's program received two national awards recently from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The students received All America Awards for their excellence in athletics, academics, and leadership. "This is about showing the kids what they can do. Every day they come in with a passion and drive to be the best they can be," said Loudon.

Fantastic 49 is the district's recognition program that celebrates fantastic staff, students, and community members before the board of education meetings. Thank you to Air Academy Federal Credit Union, Dion's, Texas Roadhouse, and Whirlyball for donating gift cards for all honorees.

VLT A-Team receives accolades during the May Fantastic 49 presentation.. Tara Wold, professor at ALLIES, is an honoree at the May 12 Fantastic 49 event.. Coach Loudon and student athletes receive awards during the May Fantastic 49 event.