Special Programs and District Office Achievement Above All

Special Programs and District Office Achievement Above All
Posted on 05/21/2021
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May 2021 -  In the final Achievement Above All event of the 2020-2021 school year, the Glendale Union High School District Governing Board celebrated one teacher, one student, and one support staff member from specialty programs Next STEP, GUHSD Online Learning Academy, and Northern Academy. In addition, one support staff member from the District Office was honored at the May 19 meeting. These individuals were recognized for their outstanding contributions to their program and the district.


Achievement Above All – Online Learning Academy Teacher Recipient: Dawn Ratke

Before Dawn Ratke began working for the Online Learning Academy, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education with an emphasis in Special Education from Northern Arizona University. She furthered her education by earning a Master’s in Education Counseling with an emphasis in Human Relations.

She worked at the Peoria Unified School District before coming to Glendale Union High School District in 2016. Online Learning Principal Steve Ducey says, “She has been the cornerstone of our special education program ever since.”

In addition to working for the Online Learning Academy, she also works for Glendale Union Online with full-time at-home students.

“Dawn is without a doubt the wizard of special education teachers. Not only is she a content specialist for every content, but she is also the "student whisper.”  She connects with her students in many ways and on many levels, which makes our students feel safe and feel empowered to accomplish anything,” says Online Learning Academy English Teacher Elaine Boggs.

In Ratke’s free time, she enjoys spending time outside such as using her RTV, hiking, and boating.

Achievement Above All – Next STEP Student Recipient: Elizabeth Hernandez

Elizabeth Hernandez is this year’s Student of the Year. She attends the Next STEP program, which teaches students how to work and live independently through practical learning skills.

During the past holiday season, Elizabeth obtained a seasonal position at Macy’s. She is currently working through the hiring process at Smart and Final, where she hopes to become an employee once she receives her diploma.

Program facilitator Stephanie Slover says, “Elizabeth, your dedication, drive, and work ethic will take you far.”

In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys music, singing, playing guitar, and dancing.

Achievement Above All – Northern Academy Support Staff Recipient: Michael Avansino

Michael Avansino is one of the district’s own, having graduated from Apollo High School. After high school, Avansino attended Providence Training Institution to become a certified Vet Tech. Now, Avansino is an Instructional Assistant at Northern Academy and plans to become a Biology teacher in the future.

Northern Academy teacher, Mr. McCallum describes Avansino as saying, “A prime example of a team player! He is always willing to go above and beyond to assist anyone, anywhere.  No task is too big or too small.”

Ms. Martinez, with whom Mr. Avansino is with the majority of each day, would be lost without the benefit of his quiet strength and calming demeanor, says Denise Scafone the Administrator of Northern Academy. She goes on to say, “No matter what challenge is thrown his way, he accepts it and performs with ease.  His ability to built rapport to reach and impact student lives is impressively unmatched.”

Faculty and staff say Avansino is the go-to guy on campus when it comes to animals. He has taken home or rehomed stray kittens, fish, and assisted staff with many of their pet-related questions.

Avansino has begun his own business restoring and selling vintage clothing and shoes. Currently, he is working toward a partnership with two local malls and having a digital kiosk.

Achievement Above All – District Office Support Staff Recipient: Tina Charette

Tina Charette is no stranger to the Glendale Union High School District, having graduated from Glendale High School. Charette first started at the district, working at Moon Valley in the attendance and counseling offices. She then moved to Washington High School in their counseling office. In 2015, Charette became the Administrative Assistant to the Chief Financial Officer at the District Office.

Charette demonstrates organization in her daily tasks, such as assigning account codes to non-routine purchase requests and assisting campuses in maximizing their local budget funds. Charette is a part of the District Office Sunshine Committee activities, decorating contests, and other office activities.

District Office Chief Financial Officer Nate Bowler says, “She manifests every day all the attributes we have identified as critical for the success of our district. Each day she models achievement above all excellence in being professional, organized, respectful, helpful, supportive, and fun in such a humble manner. It is simply a given that you will be happier after any interaction with her.”

Over the past two years, Tina has been instrumental in assisting a department leadership transition.

Previous Supervisor Lou Wiegand says, “I am pleased the board and administration are honoring one of their most treasured staff. Tina always cares deeply, acts unselfishly, contributes positively, and won’t quit until a job is finished to an extremely high standard. I am personally grateful for how much she made me and other staff better.”

Congratulations to all of the Special Program/District Office Achievement Above All recipients