Thunderbird’s Award Recipients Honored

GUHSD's Governing Board Honors Thunderbird's Award Recipients
Posted on 03/09/2021
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Glendale Union High School District’s Achievement Above All events continued with a celebration for Thunderbird High School’s 2020-2021 recipients. In recognition of their accomplishments and service, the GUHSD Governing Board honored the teacher, student, student group, support staff employee, and volunteer of the year during a meeting on April 7. Each recipient also received an award or certificate for their ongoing commitment to the district and their school’s community.


Thunderbird Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient: Todd Ahern

Before joining Thunderbird, Todd Ahern completed his undergraduate work at Phoenix College and Northern Arizona University. From there, he furthered his educational career by completing his master’s degree at Grand Canyon University.

Now, Ahern teaches students at Thunderbird’s Sensory Integration Program, also known as SIP, and serves as the Special Education Department Chair. Before Thunderbird, Ahern worked at Our Lady of Perpetual Help as a fourth-grade teacher and Osborn Middle School as a special education teacher.

Special Education Teacher and Co-Department Chair Brenda May says, “Todd has put his heart and soul into the SIP program, making it what it is today. He has worked tirelessly to meet the needs of all of his students, ensuring that they grow academically and socially. He goes out of his way to provide varied opportunities for them out in the community. Todd has also spearheaded and organized his students’ participation in unified sports.”

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mr. Ahern has coached various sports for 24 years. He coached elementary and middle school football and basketball. He has also coached freshman football at Thunderbird.

When Todd is not teaching or coaching, he loves watching college football, especially the University of Notre Dame. He also enjoys celebrating his Irish heritage, grilling, barbequing, and spending time with his family and friends.

Todd Ahern

Thunderbird Achievement Above All Student Recipient: Elliot St. Clair

According to Principal Jason Latham, Elliot St. Clair, also known as Ellie, has been a model student and has made the most out of her high school years. St. Clair attended elementary school at Sahuaro Elementary, where she was part of the MAP Center, a gifted learning program. She then went to Cholla Middle School, where she was involved in the FLEX Center.

Now in high school, St. Clair says her favorite subjects are Calculus, Biology, and Physics. Mathematics Teacher Mr. Dennis Baker says, “I have known Ellie for three years. She has been in my AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, and currently, she is in my Calculus III class. She has always been in the top one percent of those classes and is also the top student in AP Statistics this year. She is one of my top students that I have ever been blessed to have as a teacher.”

St. Clair remains active in athletics and activities outside of the classroom. She is one of the captains of the ladies’ soccer team. She also participates in cross country and track. In addition to sports, St. Clair is the co-founder and leader of the Ambassadors for Christ Club. They volunteer in the kids’ ministry at Christ’s Church of the Valley.

St. Clair plans on attending an out-of-state university to further her educational career after high school. Last month, St. Clair found out she is a National Merit Scholarship Program Finalist.

Elliot St. Clair

Thunderbird Achievement Above All Student Group Recipient: Ladies Soccer

Thunderbird’s Ladies Soccer team consists of 24 young ladies who have fought through many obstacles over the past year. This year they finished with a regular-season record of 10-0 and won the 4A Skyline Region Championship. Additionally, their coach Angelo Iozzo was named Region Coach of the Year. The team has not lost a home game since 2016.

Thunderbird Athletic Director Layne Peterson says, “It has been a pleasure to watch Coach Iozzo and the girls’ soccer team compete and grow as a team. You can always tell they love playing as a team, and it showed.”

As a collective team, the girls have maintained an average GPA of 3.44 this school year.

Coach Iozzo says his goal is to keep developing outstanding young ladies to be future leaders on and off the field.

Soccer Team

Thunderbird Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient: James Azevedo

James Azevedo is one of the district’s own, having graduated from Washington High School. Azevedo continued his education at Phoenix College and Arizona State University. After retiring from a long career at UPS, Azevedo became part of the Thunderbird community, working as a Special Education Instructional Assistant. Although, Azevedo’s history with Thunderbird goes back further than his time at the high school. All of his children have graduated from Thunderbird, and his wife has worked at Thunderbird since 2005.

Bob Falk, Thunderbird Special Education teacher, says, “Jim takes time with each and every student. He asks them how they are and gives them a fist bump. He makes them feel special and wanted. He makes school a special place, a place [that] students want to be. His always positive attitude makes everyone feel better about being at school.”

In addition to Azevedo’s daily duties as a Special Education Instructional Assistant, he coaches freshman football, basketball, and baseball.

A fellow coach of Azevedo’s, Daryl Little, says, “There’s a saying a good coach can change the game, but a great coach can change a life. Coach Azevedo is that coach.  He understands the sport and leads by example. He is a sponge for knowledge and embraces the vision of the team no matter what sport. He shares knowledge and educates others.”

In Azevedo’s free time, he enjoys spending time with his friends and family.

James Azevedo

Thunderbird Achievement Above All Volunteer Recipient: Kimberly M. George

Kimberly M. George has been volunteering at local schools since her children were little. George is the former Parent Association President, where she still serves as a member. George was part of the reopening task force and has served as a DECA judge. Currently, she is a member of Thunderbird’s School Council.

Principal Jason Latham says, “Mrs. George is an outstanding example of the support that goes on behind the scenes to help us operate successfully.”

George worked with Thunderbird’s social worker to do collections and deliveries for in-need community members during COVID-19. Now, with college-aged children, George has continued to volunteer with ASU moms, where she worked on the Arizona State University COVID-19 care package committee as treasurer.

George says that volunteering makes her happy and gives her a sense of purpose. She added saying it allows her to feel like part of the community.

Kimberly M. George