Achievement Above All - Special Programs

Achievement Above All - Special Programs

Administrator of Special Programs Brian Capistran introducing Carolyn Kelly.

Governing Board member Vicki Johnson presenting Carolyn her award.

Special Programs Teacher of the Year- Carolyn Kelly

Carolyn Kelly began her teaching career in the Glendale Union High School district after graduating from Central High School and then studying at NAU and Grand Canyon. 

For her master’s degree, she returned to NAU. 

Although she was hired as a business teacher, and spent many years teaching business courses, Carolyn has utilized her extensive curricular knowledge and outstanding instructional skills to teach several other subjects, including English, U.S. History, and a variety of elective courses.

Carolyn’s colleagues and students describe her as helpful, funny, calm, compassionate, fair, and thoughtful. For anyone who meets her, it is obvious after only a few minutes of conversation that Carolyn is a kind and caring person, who after 24 years in public education is still extremely proud to be a professional educator. 

For the first 10 years of her career, she taught at Thunderbird, Greenway, and Moon Valley High Schools before accepting a unique opportunity to serve as the lead instructor at Chris Town Academy, which was at the time a new special program school in Glendale Union.

Since its inception, Chris Town Academy has changed its location and its name, but it continues to serve a special population of students in need of flexible options to earn their high school diploma.

While providing a comfortable and productive learning environment for her students, Carolyn takes the time to get to know them personally.  As she establishes relationships with her students, she models, with her calm and pleasant demeanor, how to demonstrate respect and, in turn, how to earn the respect of others. 

Her ability to connect with students and her passion for instilling in them the value of education is appreciated by both her students and her colleagues.

Joseph Myers thanking the governing board.

Governing Board member Pam Reicks presenting Joseph with his award.

Support Staff of the Year- Joseph Myers

Joe began working at the Transitions Program 8 years ago in the fall following his own graduation at CHS.  He has been working toward a degree in Special Education and Mathematics in anticipation of the day he will be able to teach at the Transitions Program. 

Joe has incredible skills working with students in crisis, quickly deescalating situations from becoming out of control, which is no easy feat when working with students with some severe emotional and behavioral challenges.   He swiftly comes to the rescue of at the simple suggestion of needing help.  He often volunteers and has adeptly taken on many additional responsibilities outside the realm of his job, including intensive training to become a certified instructor for the District in Crisis Prevention and Intervention.  

Mr. Myers is an amazingly multi-faceted, gifted young man. His quick wit, the quiet, yet thoughtful manner in which he advocates for students, the meaningful relationships he has with students and his dedication and hard work make him the epitome of what AAA is.


Transitions Facilitator Denise Scafone introducing Matthew Shears.

Governing Board member Rick Fields presenting Matthew with his award.

Student of the Year- Matthew Shears


Matthew joined the transitions program during his sophomore year from GWHS almost 3 years ago.  Since Matthew has been with the program, he has progressed academically and socially.  Matthew reports that he never quite connected with anyone while on the bigger campus.  He did not participate in his education nor was he very social.  

Matthew is an extremely bright, respectful and kind young man who, according to Mr. Ockenfels, “contributes to classroom discussions with a sense of humor and maturity beyond his age.”  Mr. Applegate has watched Matthew open up dramatically from those first days to where he now can “argue his point of view effectively” and even “apply appropriate pressure on his peers to adjust their faulty reasoning on topics.” 

All of Matthew’s teachers enjoy having him in class, often stating that it is a student like Matthew who makes it easier to come back to a tough job every day. During the nominations, staff members listed  Matthew’s dry sense of humor, his willingness to help others and his behavior as a role model on campus as reasons why he is deserving of this award.  According to Mr. Williams, “Matthew is not a man of many words but his calm and smooth demeanors say it all.”