Special Programs, District Office AAA Recipients Honored
Achievement Above All Celebrates Special Programs, District Office
Posted on 05/20/2016

May 2016 – In the final Achievement Above All event of the 2015-2016 school year, The Glendale Union High School District Governing Board honored members of Northern Academy, NextSTEP and the District Office on May 18.

Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient:

Todd Ockenfels is a graduate of Moon Valley High School and began his career with the district after working a long-term substitute position at Independence High School in 1997. He was hired on as a home bound teacher, where he would visit students at home to teach lessons because an injury or illness prevented them from attending school. The program was run through the Northern Academy campus and Mr. Ockenfels was tapped to fill an art vacancy soon after fulfilling the role of home bound teacher. He became a full-time teacher in 2002 and has quickly become known as the campus Renaissance Man.

“Todd’s contributions to the Northern Academy for the past 14 years have been numerous, including serving on campus as a leader and mentor; developing and implementing our current data collection system; being diligent about all paperwork and necessary IEP compliance-related concerns; doing whatever is necessary to assist students; and last, but most importantly, is a gifted educator,” said Denise Scafone, administrator of Northern Academy.

Mr. Ockenfels’ contributions to the students goes beyond the classroom.

“Routinely, Todd gives up his lunch hour to play cards with students who don’t always fit in socially at lunch, providing a safe haven and much needed socialization skills they would otherwise miss out on,” Scafone said.

teacher 1  teacher 2

Achievement Above All Student Recipient:

Enrico Rodriguez attends NextSTEP, a program that teaches students how to work and live independently.

“When we look at what success means at NextSTEP, Enrico is the perfect representation,” said facilitator Stephanie Quirin. “We look for students who are willing to work, take direction, work with a group, be respectful and polite to supervisors, co-workers, teachers, and all staff members, speak up for themselves as well as take criticism.”

Enrico has held a position at a retail site where he learned how to stock inventory, manage his time and offer basic customer service. His experience led him to seek more responsibilities and a paying job.

Enrico, who is hearing impaired, was taught how to use city bus transportation to attend a job fair.

“We trained him, provided communication cards he would be able to show the bus driver, and he was placed at the district bus garage with Felix. He now takes the city bus alone from his home to the district garage three times a week, works his shift, then takes the city bus home again. He is able to do all of this independently,” she said. “Enrico is driven, dedicated, motivated, engaged and excited to work.”

student 1  student 2

Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient:

Josh Britt is also a Moon Valley graduate who came to work for Northern Academy in 2014 as an instructional aide. He came to the position after working in the private sector with adults with developmental disabilities.

“Mr. Britt serves in multiple capacities, including the clerk for the before and after school programs, a floater aide for the in school suspension room, as well as filling in for absent team members,” Scafone said. “Mr. Britt is often the first to volunteer for any request on campus whether it be to be an additional supervision presence for a student who is struggling, throwing in a load of laundry or manning the front desk in a pinch.”

His colleagues describe him as being a “great help no matter where he goes,” and that he “seems to fit in with every classroom seamlessly.”

In addition to working at Northern Academy, Mr. Britt is attending school full time at Grand Canyon University, where he is studying to become a science teacher.

support 1  Support 2

Achievement Above All District Office Recipient:

Jessica Contreras is the Medicaid Specialist and CTE Administrative Assistant at the District Office. She graduated from Centennial High School and went on to earn her associates degree in video production from the Art Institute of Phoenix and her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary arts and science from Arizona State University.

She started working for the district in 2011 at Independence High School as a special education clerk and came to her current position in 2013.

“As her supervisor, I can confidently state that she is an organizational dynamo and efficiently handles everything that CTE throws at her,” said CTE Director Amanda Shively. “This includes touching every trip request and purchase requisition that goes through our office. She definitely keeps me organized and on-track. She is also helpful, understanding and kind. She handles phone calls and emails from over 70 CTE teachers and they all love her and depend on her.”

DO 1  DO 2

Congratulations to all Achievement Above All recipients! We’re proud of your accomplishments and the commitment you have demonstrated on your campuses!

Please enjoy this highlight video from the evening's presentation.