Gilbert Public Schools Teacher of the Year Award Ceremony A Huge Success!
It was an exciting evening for Gilbert Public School teachers at the Doubletree Hilton in Gilbert, Arizona on Thursday, March 9th. GPS administrators, teachers, and their families came together for the first ever Teacher of the Year award ceremony.
Each school within the district nominated their own Teacher of the Year to make a total of 40 teachers who were recipients for his or her school. Out of these 40 winners, the district selected 5 semifinalists who went through a rigorous process to compete for the 3 finalist nominations, out of which 1 would be awarded the overall district winner and will go on to compete on the state level. The finalists were Kymberly Winn, Cheryl Collins, and Nick Conell.
The event took place at the hotel’s Elegante Conference Center, starting with a celebratory cocktail hour in the courtyard followed with an elegant formal dinner that honored all 40 teachers who were Teacher of the Year winners. The top 3 finalists video submissions were showcased and they each were recognized for their outstanding teaching practices. The winner of this year’s Gilbert Public School Teacher of the Year award went to Kymberly Winn, a 7th-grade science teacher at South Valley Junior High School. In addition to the Teacher of the Year award, a special recognition was awarded to Diane Drazinski, GPS Chemistry Teacher and GEA President.
Teachers were excited about this new award which GPS superintendent, Dr. Christina Kishimoto, emplaced. She told Gilbert Daily PRSS that she experienced attending these types of award ceremonies at her former position in Connecticut and felt that Gilbert Public School teachers deserved the same accolades. Dr. Christina Kishimoto brought the tradition over to Gilbert and wanted to give teachers an opportunity to have an award night “outside of the typical setting: a school auditorium or cafeteria.” Instead, she opted for a formal setting at the beautiful hotel. She reached out to business leaders of the community who sponsored each table at the event and made it possible for Gilbert Public Schools to have a successful first Teacher of the Year award ceremony with about 300 well-dressed, well-fed, and happy attendees.
The 3 finalists, Kymberly Winn, Cheryl Collins, and Nick Conell, took time out of their evening to tell us about their passion for teaching.
Kymberly Winn – Winner
This year’s winner, Kymberly Winn, is a 7th-grade science teacher at South Valley Junior High School where she has taught for 5 years. Besides being enthusiastic and passionate about science, she specializes in inquiry-based lesson plans and implemented this innovative approach to teaching and learning in her classrooms. This self-directed learning method empowers her students to pose questions for themselves and create experiments based on materials she provides them. She feels that 7th-grade is the best grade to start teaching students, “how they learn best.” She is very grateful for the support of her department and administrators and credits them for being an integral part of her success by allowing her to implement non-traditional teaching methods.
Cheryl Collins is a seasoned kindergarten teacher at Pioneer Elementary School. She has been an elementary school teacher for 23 years and sincerely enjoys watching the dramatic progress that each child in her class makes from their very first day of school to the last day of kindergarten, and she sets high expectations for them so that they, themselves can be proud of their personal growth and development. She appreciates her position at her school and feels fortunate to “work with the best of the best.”
Nick Cornell is a physical education teacher and assistant football coach at Campo Verde High School and has taught for 24 years. He is heavily involved in the athletics department and has simultaneously coached while teaching for all 24 years of his career. Nick says he is “humbled” by the nomination and is driven to do his job so well because he is focused on making a “positive impact on students’ lives.” He is passionate about character education and enjoys teaching each young adult how to “be a good person.”
Here’s a list of all the teachers nominated for the Teacher of the Year award.
Ashland Ranch Elementary, Alta Runyan
Augusta Ranch Elementary, Cynthia Schiable
Boulder Creek Elementary, Beth Christensen
Burk Elementary, Colleen Lynch
Canyon Rim Elementary, Jennifer Lee Reagan
Carol Rae Ranch Elementary, Debra Mull
Finley Farms Elementary, Jacquelyn Marie McCord
Gilbert Elementary, Ana Parra
Greenfield Elementary, Nancy Hannigan
Harris Elementary, Kelli Motroni
Highland Park Elementary, Rebecca Riddell
Houston Elementary, Jennifer Clonts
Islands Elementary, Amy Casaldi
Meridian Elementary, Jacki Prach
Mesquite Elementary, Nancy Masterson
Neely Traditional Academy, Catherine Davidson
Oak Tree Elementary, Anne Schwaab
Patterson Elementary, Karen Frederick
Pioneer Elementary, Cheryl Collins
Playa Del Rey Elementary, Frank Caporaletti
Quartz Hill Elementary, Jerri L. Coutts
Settler’s Point Elementary, Melissa D’Agostino
Sonoma Ranch Elementary, Patti Munley
Spectrum Elementary, Kelly Chambers
Superstition Springs Elementary, Sean Heaton
Towne Meadows Elementary, Megan Gentry
Val Vista Lakes Elementary, Shannon Short
Campo Verde High School, Nick Cornell
Canyon Valley High School, Tracy Cornelius
Desert Ridge High School, Rachel Pfoutz
Desert Ridge Junior High, Cyndi Wood
Gilbert Classical Academy, Karen Maas
Gilbert High School, Shalei Webb
Gilbert Junior High, Rene Simpson
Greenfield Junior High, Brandi McMahan
Highland High School, Rita Scholz
Highland Junior High, Kathleen Foley
Mesquite High School, Melody Fraser
Mesquite Junior High, Shanah Pugnetti
South Valley Junior High, Kymberly Winn