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Tue, Jan. 21

Going the extra mile: Prescott Unified faculty honored with awards

GEM award winners: Left to right front row: Prescott Unified District Superintendent Joe Howard, Granite Mountain STEAM and 21st Century Coordinator Emma Gifford, Mile High Special Education Department Chairwoman Christine Felton; Abia Judd second grade teacher Sandy Spillman and Prescott High Visual Arts Coordinator and Freshman Academy instructor Amanda Chartier. In the back (left to right) Prescott High instructional coach Adam Neely; Mile High seventh grade teacher Christina Jones; Mile High instructional coach Robin Andre, Abia Judd fourth grade teacher Whitney Williams; Prescott Unified Education Foundation Executive Director Tami Phillips and Prescott High Athletic Director Missy Townsend. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

GEM award winners: Left to right front row: Prescott Unified District Superintendent Joe Howard, Granite Mountain STEAM and 21st Century Coordinator Emma Gifford, Mile High Special Education Department Chairwoman Christine Felton; Abia Judd second grade teacher Sandy Spillman and Prescott High Visual Arts Coordinator and Freshman Academy instructor Amanda Chartier. In the back (left to right) Prescott High instructional coach Adam Neely; Mile High seventh grade teacher Christina Jones; Mile High instructional coach Robin Andre, Abia Judd fourth grade teacher Whitney Williams; Prescott Unified Education Foundation Executive Director Tami Phillips and Prescott High Athletic Director Missy Townsend. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

They’re the first ones to volunteer for extra duties. They’re the creative energy in the room.

They’re the cheerleaders for their colleagues, and the coaches to their students.

They get to work early, and they’re the last to lock the doors after the last bell rings.

Abia Judd fourth grade teacher Whitney Williams on Meet the Teacher night seated herself in a student chair, handing out roses to each student and asking them, “Will you be my student?”

They are Prescott Unified School District’ faculty and staff who every day, and every year, go the extra mile so as to help students excel, colleagues perform at their best and instill pride within the community about the schools that educates 4,000 of its children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends.

On Tuesday, Dec. 3, the Prescott Unified Governing Board honored nine “Going the Extra Mile” award winners for this year — eight women and one man. All were treated to a reception and a $100 bill.

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Granite Mountain GEM Award winner Emma Gifford, left, speaks to Abia Judd Principal Stephanie Hillig at the reception. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

The winners are:

Robin Andre – Mile High Middle School’s instructional coach:

Andre is known as someone who offers her time, talent, resources and emotional support “and all-around awesome humanness” to her fellow educators.

“Robin’s commitment to excellence as a team player and a positive role model for others begins with a positive attitude, the smile and the approach she takes to each day,” reads her nomination from Sara Hannan. “She is a consistent ray of sunshine and positivity whenever she is near, however, her excellence spreads far beyond a smile and a positive attitude … We are endlessly better because of her, and most importantly, so are our learners.”

Amanda Chartier – Prescott High School Visual Arts Coordinator and Freshman Academy facilitator:

Chartier is known as a standout art teacher, but this year is shepherding the new Freshman Academy with aplomb, said nominator Jennifer Woods.

“She embraced the class, and most importantly, the students in helping them have an incredible beginning as they enter high school,” Woods wrote. “Her students will be the ones promoting the course to incoming freshman for years and it will be because of her with her dynamic personality and love for teaching that has made the course what it is!”

Christine Felton - Mile High Middle School Special Education Department chairman:

Felton is a teacher who goes beyond just knowing a student’s individualized education plan. She gets to know them as a person. If they need special supplies or technology, she invests her own money to be sure they have whatever is needed, said nominator Robin Andre.

Holder of a master’s degree in educational leadership candidate, Felton “goes the extra mile every moment of every day.”

Emma Gifford – Granite Mountain STEAM and 21 Century Coordinator:

“She has created numerous learning opportunities, hands-on activities, and facilitated educational field trips that get her students excited about STEAM,” said nominator Nicole Peterson. “She even received training to drive an activity bus so that her students would have an opportunity to experience real-world situations that apply to their classroom learning.”

Christina Jones – Prescott Mile High Seventh Grade Social Studies Teacher:

Jones is an “exceptional teacher,” said nominator Andy Binder, the school principal.

She spent her summer working with fellow teachers on a new social studies curriculum, and regularly is part of school and districtwide educational initiatives, he said.

“In addition to her social studies responsibilities, for the past several years Christina has been a scorekeeper at volleyball and basketball game. This year, Mrs. Jones has also decided to be the coach of the boy’s basketball team. If that wasn’t enough, Christina has also agreed to work with a student teacher next semester.”

Adam Neely – Prescott High School instructional coach:

Neely is behind setting the high school’s core values: caring, commitment, perseverance, responsibility and respect, said nominator Principal Mark Goligoski.

Beyond his current duties, Neely has a history at the school as the Math Department chairman, head coach for the boys basketball team, and school leader in last year’s AdvanceEd Accreditation process. He is always at the ready to help cover classes, serve as security guard, and is the school expert on academic data collection, Goligoski said.

“He is a unifying force who patiently works with others to do what is best for children,” Goligoski said. “All schools have challenges that must be addressed, yet Neely is one who looks for solutions and provides aid when action is required.”

Sandy Spillman – Abia Judd Elementary second grade teacher:

Spillman is one of those teachers at school long beyond her scheduled hours, said nominator Melissa Scott.

Beyond classroom duties, she organizes the annual Spelling Bee such that every “I” is dotted and every “T” is crossed, Scott said. She said Spillman, too, maintains the school’s “Secret Garden,” an “amazing place on our campus” because of her continued dedication.

Missy Townsend – Prescott High School athletic director:

Townsend is known “for being passionate about promoting Badger pride, not just within the student body and alumni, but within the greater Prescott community,” said nominator Mark Goligoski, the school principal.

Townsend deserves accolades for a litany of work, including tenacious oversight of the $2.5 million renovation of the school’s main athletic complex, the track and football field.

She is now president-elect of the Arizona Interscholastic Association of Athletic Directors tasked with coordinating the 2020 association conference.

“Needless to say, Missy Townsend is uniquely positioned to be recognized by her peers and the district for Going the Extra Mile!” he wrote.

Whitney Williams – Abia Judd fourth grade teacher:

Creative and eager to “capture kids’ hearts,” Williams is a “patient, caring, supportive and intelligent” teacher who instructs the whole child, said nominator Maya Caldwell.

“She is just a delight, and one of those teachers that her students will remember for a lifetime,” Caldwell said.

Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 204

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