District Office and Special Programs honored with Achievement Above All Awards

Governing Board Honors Best of the Best
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Glendale Union High School District’s best of the best were recognized during the District Office and Special Programs Achievement Above All Awards, held on May 18.

The annual awards ceremony is presented by the Governing Board and is a prestigious event where a teacher, student, and support staff members are recognized for their outstanding work.

The Achievement Above All Award for teacher went to David Renner.

Mr. Renner has taught at the Transitions Program at the Northern Academy since 2003. He is also a graduate of Glendale High School and served four years in the Coast Guard.

Mr. Renner may be best known for his positive and humorous disposition as well as his ability to motivate students by thinking outside of the box, said Denise Scafone, Northern Academy Facilitator.

“He was then and still is, patient, firm, compassionate, quick-witted, and kept me laughing through the day with his subtle yet funny observations,” Scafone said. “He instinctively knew and still does, what students needed and would deftly guide them to answers, reteach materials and always maintained his composure.”

Additionally, Mr. Renner’s effective teaching manner was highly sought after by parents.

“Parents consistently request Mr. Renner as a case manager for their child, knowing he is a great advocate, excels at keeping them informed and communicating concerns quickly,” Scafone said.

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The student who received the Achievement Above All Award this year went to Isaac Pahona, a Cortez student from the Northern Academy.

Isaac was a dual-enrolled student at Glendale Community College and was the only student in the district to take and pass honors physics. He was the recipient of the Presidents Scholarship and plans to continue this education at GCC and eventually transfer to Arizona State University to receive a degree in video game design.

“Isaac is what is considered to be a twice exceptional student, academically gifted as well as having a diagnosis of autism,” Scafone said. “Isaac will be the first to tell you how his autism impacts his ability to read people and social situations, however, he has worked hard to overcome what others might see as an obstacle and find ways to use his intelligence and ability to understand situations to read those social cues that others take for granted.”

Isaac is generous with his time, often helping out fellow students and volunteering to assist in the classroom.

“We have never seen anything from Isaac but respect, humor and honesty. He is a role model for other students, gently guiding their behavior and even assisting in instruction when helpful,” Scafone said.

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Jessie Green, program facilitator of the Next Step Program, presented the Achievement Above All Award for special programs support staff to Daryl Little.

Mr. Little is a graduate of Washington High School and taught at both Washington and Glendale high schools. He was also a dedicated coach for both football and basketball and was recognized by his peers by being named Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2013.

Mr. Little has focused his attention on helping students become successful in real-world situations and to achieve employment after high school.

“Mr. Little has had his hand in getting more than 20 students paying positions this year, with several more currently going through the interview process,” Green said. “Mr. Little does such an incredible job with providing students with a true work experience that our businesses want to hire our students before the student even gets the support of the outside agencies because they recognize that we are providing them with well-equipped workers.”

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The final award of the evening for District Office Achievement Above All support staff employee was awarded to Wanda Hillis by Food Service Director Dung “Yome” Gokool.

Ms. Hillis has worked as the food service secretary for 11 years, but has been a district employee for nearly 27 years. She began her career as a cafeteria assistant at Thunderbird Cafeteria.

“She’s loyal, honest, reliable, punctual, and dedicated, just to list a few characteristics,” Gokool said.

She often wears many hats, acting as accounts payable, purchasing assistant and, “she stays on top of the cafeteria managers to make sure they have what they need to do their jobs – her plate is quite full,” Gokool said.

“Wanda is definitely the supermodel of model employees, but Wanda is much more than that, she is a wonderful person,” he said. “She was a mother to me at times, whipping me into shape and keeping me sane, but most importantly she’s one of my best friends. She is truly caring and compassionate.”

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Congratulations to all Achievement Above All award recipients!