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Honorees Go Above and Beyond to Make D49 Fantastic

Individuals across District 49 aim for excellence every day. For some, it encompasses working hard in and out of the classroom. For others, it is about demonstrating D49’s values on a daily basis. The board of education honored four individuals during Fantastic 49 festivities before the regular board meeting February 14 for their commitment to always going above and beyond.


The celebration was kicked off by recognizing Justis Sokol, fifth-grader at Bennett Ranch Elementary School. In addition to earning excellent grades, Justis won the quarter-midgets national car race last fall. “At Bennett Ranch, we have a saying, ‘Bulls lead the way,’ and Justis definitely leads the way for our students,” stated Katie Poulsen, BRES fifth-grade teacher. “He’s a great example of what a District 49 student should be.”


A staff member from the D49 business office was honored next. V. Michelle Garrett, accounting technician, was recognized for her dedication to customer service and modeling the way for D49 team members. “Michelle lights up the room with her smile and is a delight to work with,” said Jodi Poulin, accounting group manager. Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, was quick to add, “She is the greatest example of our cultural compass.”


Stephanie Hazelton, innovation professor at ALLIES, was recognized for what she contributes to the well-being of students and the inspiration for fellow colleagues. “Stephanie encourages her classes to be creative, productive and aim high,” stated fellow ALLIES team member, Stephanie Rizzo. “Along with her outstanding work, she is an amazing colleague.”


The final honoree of the evening was Karen Hopper, a community member who volunteers countless hours at Meridian Ranch Elementary School. Ashley Mullins, kindergarten teacher, spoke of Hopper’s contributions to MRES. “I don’t know how we got so lucky. We are so blessed. You are a part of our team, and we adore you,” she shared. For Hopper, the celebration’s highlight was a handmade thank you banner that was signed by more than 100 kindergartners. “These children bring so much joy to my life,” she remarked.

Stephanie Hazelton, innovation professor at ALLIES, receives a plaque from Marie La Vere-Wright, BOE president, Feb. 14.  . Justis Sokol, fifth-grader at BRES, receives accolades during the Fantastic 49 celebration Feb. 14 as his teacher looks on.  . V. Michelle Garrett, accounting technician, receives accolades during Fantastic 49 festivities Feb. 14.


Amy Matisek
719-495-1149, ext. 2136