- Bennett Ranch Elementary School
Valuing Staff, Students in District 49
In D49, one of our key strategic priorities or “Big Rocks,” is Value All People. Celebrating the contributions and achievements of individuals in our district is one way to demonstrate that commitment. District leaders and the board of education honored exceptional students and staff in a variety of roles during the Fantastic 49 presentation on May 11.
Sarah Brockberg, adaptive physical education specialist, was recognized for her selection as Adaptive P.E. Teacher of the Year by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE). “In D49 Sarah continuously seeks to grow her own practice, and the skills of her colleagues and partners in P.E. classes,” Bridgitte Martin, coordinator of special education said. “She has organized two adaptive sporting events this year … these events not only provide an opportunity for our students with significant physical challenges to participate in sporting events, but they promote inclusive practices for students with and without disabilities to participate in sports alongside one another.”
Jason White, coordinator of community care, was praised for his compassionate care of employees. White was nominated by Nancy Aziz, a behavior support technician on the community care team. “The difference between a boss and a leader … a boss tells their employees what to do and how to do it, but a leader leads by example. A boss cares only about getting the work done, but a leader cares about an employee’s well-being,” Aziz shared. “Jason is a fantastic 49 leader who listens, cares and advocates for his employees. He also helped me overcome my fear of public speaking … that’s why I decided the first time I was to speak in public, I would celebrate him.”
The custodial team at Vista Ridge High School was thanked for making the school a welcoming place for learning. “This team [led by Building Manager Mirsada Dzanic and includes Anakareen Beltran, Laura Beltran, Sergio Bonilla, Christine Colombo, Jeremy Dreher, Besima Lopar, Connie Malacara and Tyler Poulos] is second to none. Mirsada truly values all people and builds enduring trust,” said Becki Sims, interim principal at VRHS. “Respect, care, trust and responsibility are ingrained in this custodial team … they all represent a work ethic and desire to serve that is unsurpassed … They do all they can to ensure students have a clean environment for learning.”
Principals from the POWER Zone—Pam Holloman, Kris Levi, Kim Moore, Becki Sims, Rebecca Thompson and Mike Wedor—were recognized for collaborating to create an effective leadership team to ensure schools in their zone shine. “On this team we have heartfelt reflective thinkers, leaders with energy and charisma larger than this room, leaders who are brilliantly analytical and who provide keen insight, leaders who are bold and passionate,” said Theresa Ritz, POWER Zone leader. “Individually they are exceptional servant leaders who embody all that the POWER Zone stands for and who make a positive difference for their staff, students and families, but what I’m most proud of is how we’ve come together as a team.”
Ella Bowerize, senior at Falcon High School, received accolades for creating the winning entry in a graphic design contest for a new logo for the Pikes Peak Region Young People’s Art Exhibition. Ella was encouraged by her classmates to compete in the competition. “I nominated Ella for Fantastic 49 because she got me excited about a logo,” Eric Canuel, art teacher shared. “In my 27 years of working in graphic design in some capacity, I’ve done a lot of logos … having a student do work that someone wants to see on all their work excites me so much.”
The evening wrapped up by honoring Israel Oketunmbi, senior at Sand Creek High School, and Paxton Sandoval, senior at Vista Ridge High School, for receiving one of the state’s most prestigious scholarships—a Daniels Fund Scholarship. Israel and Paxton will receive up to $100,000 to attend a post-secondary educational institution of their choice. “Sometimes there are people in life you will always remember because they make a tremendous impact,” said Amy Sanchez-Martinez, campus director at Sand Creek High School. “He deserves this honor and much more … we are all so proud.”
“I was blessed to be Paxton’s fourth grade teacher,” Sims added. “Sometimes you don’t realize the impact students will have, but with Paxton I knew. At Vista Ridge, I’ve seen her contribute to the school and make it a better place.”
Fantastic 49 is the district's recognition program that celebrates fantastic staff, students, parents, and community members before the board of education meetings. A sincere thank you to Air Academy Federal Credit Union, Dion's, and Texas Roadhouse for donating gift cards for honorees.