Washington Rams Honored at Governing Board Meeting

Washington Rams Honored at Governing Board Meeting
Posted on 04/11/2022
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April 2022- Excellence continues at Glendale Union High School District as the Governing Board honored Washington High School’s Achievement Above All recipients, including Teacher of the Year, Student of the Year, Student Group of the Year, Support Staff of the Year, and Volunteer of the Year during their latest meeting. Principal Ashley Burns spoke about all recipients as well as presented them with a certificate or award for their achievements.

District graduate and Engineering Science Teacher, Steven Gould, is Washington High School’s Teacher of the Year. Gould has been teaching at Washington for the past 7 years. In addition to teaching, Gould is the Title I Coordinator and coaches wrestling and track. During the past four years, Gould has been an administrator at summer school. Principal Ashley Burns says, “Steven is a huge help to the campus not only through his work in the classroom, but the support he provides to teachers through Title 1. He is willing to help out wherever he is needed and truly goes above and beyond for Washington High School.”

When asked what makes Gould passionate about teaching, Gould said, “In both coaching and engineering I get to work with kids for multiple years. It is amazing watching these kids grow up, and reach their full potential before sending them out to the world.”

Steven Gould

Described as a bright and driven student, Kiara Smith, is Washington High School’s Student of the Year. During her four years of high school, Smith has participated in Cheer, Wrestling, Track, National Honors Society, Link Crew, and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). In addition to extracurricular activities, Smith takes Advanced Placement classes while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. Early Childhood Education teacher and FCCLA sponsor, Jacquie Dudo says, “I can always count on Kiara both in and out of the classroom. She is a pleasure to have in class and will be sorely missed upon graduation this year.”

Smith says she was recently accepted into Barnard, the all-girls school at Columbia University. She plans on minoring in Philosophy.

Kiara Smith

From four to over 50 students, Washington High School’s Student Group of the Year has grown over the past seven years. Washington’s Wrestling has not only grown but has also expanded to Women’s Wrestling. Five years ago, girls wrestling was not recognized as a sport in Arizona and this year Washington had three girls qualify for the state competition. Assistant Principal of Operations and Resources Mr. Nelson says, “Our WHS wrestling team is an example of what school sports should be all about: good young people working hard every day, trying to be their best, doing great in the classroom, and involved in our campus community. They are great representatives for our school. A very well-deserved award for these student-athletes and our coaches.”

Group sponsor and coach, Steven Gould says his goals are to continue to grow both the girls and boys wrestling teams.


Title I Instructional Assistant, Valerie Higgins, is Washington’s Support Staff of the Year. Higgins has been at Washington High School for over five years. She works closely with the math department where she supports several math teachers throughout the day. In addition, Higgins helps students get caught up in classes through the DLS program. Title I Coordinator, Steven Gould says, “She is passionate about the work she does and always offers great insight into how we can improve programs, and this has led to huge changes on campus over the past couple of years.”

When asked about her goals and plans for the future, Higgins says she is taking classes to become a math teacher.

Valerie Higgins

In one short year, Shelley Winchester has become a familiar face at Washington High School, according to Principal Ashley Burns. Winchester is Washington’s Volunteer of the Year. Over the past year she has spent her time volunteering with PTO, sport events, and community events. She now serves as the PTO Treasurer. Art Teacher Karen Bell-Zinn says, “Shelley is a great organizer and brings an exciting, positive energy to all of our events.”

When asked why volunteering was important to her she said, “Living a full and rich life should not be measured in dollars, but in experiences. To me, those experiences should include giving more than money to others. They should include giving your time and energy, your talents, and your wisdom. That is what I try to give when I volunteer at Washington High School.”

Shelley Winchester