Celebrating PVSchools Principals During National Principals Month
Thursday, October 1, 2020
October is National Principals Month, which honors principals for their significant impact on the success and well-being of our nation’s students. At PVSchools, we are celebrating the contributions and leadership of all of our principals.
At the helm of PVSchools 43 schools are exceptional leaders who never hesitate when making decisions that are in the best interest of their unique school community. Our principals are continuously building positive relationships with their staff, students, parents, and community members while guiding and enforcing expectations and rules of the school.
During National Principals Month, reach out to your child’s principal with a simple note of gratitude of appreciation. Connect with a former principal who may have had a positive impact on your life.
PVSchools is highlighting each of our principals so that you may learn more about them and/or their school.
George Gillett – Boulder Creek ES
I can still recall the exact moment I fell in love with education. I was in second grade, my teacher Mrs. Bowie was frustrated with a student in the class who was not getting the lesson. Out of frustration, she turned to me and asked if I wouldn't mind working with him. I worked with him for a while, and then he began to understand the concept. The feeling of being able to help my classmate made me feel so proud. I've been in love with education ever since.
My experiences are diverse, and I feel like those experiences provide me with an understanding of many different perspectives. I believe those perspectives help me to be the best educator I can be. I was born in Belize City, Belize, grew up in Los Angeles, California, in the LAUSD school system, graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Studies, played college football at Oregon State University, worked in the business sector for nearly a decade before getting my Master's of Education degree at the Pacific University and returning to education. After teaching for several years, I received my Administration Leadership License from the University of Oregon. After that, I began my administrative career as an assistant principal at Spencer Butte Middle School in the 4J school district in Eugene, Oregon.
Every year, my wife and I would visit her family here in Arizona, and we fell in love with it. We decided to chase the sun and move here. It has been the best decision we could have made. We love Arizona, and I love working in Paradise!
Shannon MacMunn – Cactus View ES
I discovered my love for teaching children as a student within the Paradise Valley School District attending Liberty Elementary, Sunrise Middle, and Horizon High and knew I was going to be a teacher. After graduating in 2004 from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, I chose to begin my teaching career with PVSchools. That was 15 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. I taught for seven years, second and fifth grades, and loved my experiences interacting with children and expanding their knowledge and love for learning. I decided I wanted to support more students on a larger scale and earned my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Arizona State University. Soon after, I moved into an Assistant Principal position where I remained for two years and in 2014, I became the principal of Cactus View Elementary. I am starting my seventh year at Cactus View and couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this amazing community. Everyday I strive to build positive relationships and learning environments that support the academic, social and emotional growth of all students. I am committed to cultivating values of kindness, respect, and responsibility in all our students and will remain my students’ biggest advocate. My leadership style is one of servitude where I value uplifting and supporting those around me. For anyone wanting to join the profession, please don’t forget to have fun and always remember why we are here, the children. Be the best you can be each day and always ask yourself, “Is this what is best for my students?”
Jerry Withers – Campo Bello ES
I grew up in central Illinois and moved to Arizona in 1986. I am married with two children of my own, two stepdaughters, and two grandchildren with the third one arriving in October. My wife is also an employee of the district and works primarily with high school students.
The best part of my job as the principal of Campo Bello is developing relationships with the students, parents, community, and staff. We have fantastic students that are working hard every day to understand new and challenging information. We have parents that are dedicated to ensuring that their child receives the best education possible. We have community partners that support us in a multitude of ways. We have a staff that are dedicated to each child and make their decisions on what’s best for children.
Ann Furnish – Copper Canyon ES
As I begin my 23rd year of educating children, I am so thankful to begin it alongside the outstanding teachers, students and community members of Copper Canyon Elementary!
I am a Scandanavian to the core who grew up in North Dakota where the prairies meet badlands. My family made the move to Arizona in the middle of my high school years, and I’ve called the desert my home ever since. In my college years, I spent summers back in North Dakota working as a camp counselor on the Canadian border. It was through this fulfilling experience that I wholeheartedly embraced my love for working with children of all ages and abilities. So much so, that I made a shift in my degree path graduating from Arizona State University with a dual bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. I began my career teaching special education in the elementary setting. After several years, I decided to transition into the general education classroom to further support those students in the classroom setting. Over the next several years, I taught fifth grade, sixth grade math, and finished my classroom years teaching middle school math.
Somewhere along the way, I was nudged by a dear colleague to pursue a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Sometime after that, I married a wonderful person, and we have been blessed with two wonderful daughters. And then, somewhere along the way after that, I was nudged once again by one of my dearest mentors to continue to learn more and broaden my experiences, and I spent many of the following years working at the district level supporting schools across the district with Professional Learning Communities and data. But, every time I would go out and work with a group of teachers, I would leave feeling a bit empty. I was not working with children, and I missed the school community dearly. Again, I was nudged, and became an assistant principal at Greenway Middle School and then Desert Shadows Middle School.
One more nudge landed me as principal of Copper Canyon Elementary five years ago. I never would have imagined that a school could be so wonderful as Copper Canyon is. It is filled with teachers who are beyond passionate about supporting children academically, as well as social/emotionally, so they can be confident and have as much fun as possible while learning great things. I love this community, and I couldn’t be more proud, honored, and thankful to be a Copper Canyon Coyote!
Stacey Orest – Desert Cove ES
I am in my 21st year in education and feel fortunate to be in my fifth year as a principal in the Paradise Valley School District. My career path included being a classroom teacher for second, third, fifth, and seventh grades. I have also worked as a kindergarten-sixth computer teacher at Indian Bend Elementary School and a media specialist at Horizon High School. I was the assistant principal at Sunrise Middle School for a year and Desert Cove is my new home!
I earned both my Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and my Leadership degree from Arizona State University. I also have a Master’s degree in Technology Education through Northern Arizona University.
On a personal note, I am originally from Worcester, Massachusetts but moved to Arizona at a very young age. I have two children (ages 13 and 15) who attend PV schools and one dog named Mayhem. I have been married for 18 years and our favorite thing to do is spend time up in the pines and travel to new places.
My goal as a principal is to work with parents, faculty, and students to cultivate an atmosphere characterized by the highest level of academic excellence, trust, respect, and open lines of communication. I do my very best to inspire the students and staff to reach their full potential with respect to education and character. Together, we can accomplish anything!
Chad Caudle – Desert Shadows ES
After graduating from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science, I loaded up my truck and made the journey to beautiful Arizona. I’m now entering my 23rd year in education and loving every minute of it!
For the past 23 years, I have taught at both the elementary and middle school levels. I earned my Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from the University of Phoenix and quickly became an assistant principal. My first principalship came in 2007 at Hohokam Elementary School in the Scottsdale Unified School District. After six years at Hohokam, my next wonderful opportunity was becoming the principal of Ingleside Middle School. In 2015, I finally arrived in Paradise, and have had the honor of serving Desert Shadows Elementary for the past five years.
My inspiration to become a principal was the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many. I have the privilege to wake up each day knowing that my actions and decisions may somehow make a permanent imprint on a child's future. That is a great responsibility, and one that I do not take lightly.
If I were to give a tip for parents navigating this complex educational journey, it would simply be to make sure you are communicating and modeling that education is a priority in your household. Next time your child has 30 minutes of silent reading for homework, grab a book and join them!
Raquel Solano – Desert Springs ES
I am the proud principal of Desert Springs Preparatory Elementary School. I was born and raised in Arizona where I have a big family and have a love for outdoor adventure! I joined the PVSchools family in 2007 as a Kindergarten teacher. I currently hold a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and in Human Relations from Northern Arizona University. This is my 14th year in education and my fifth year as the principal of Desert Springs Preparatory. As a principal, I love working with my staff and community to create a place where students love to learn, create lifelong friendships, and build self-confidence.
At Desert Springs Preparatory Elementary School, you will find that we have the most highly qualified and caring teachers, as well as an extremely active and involved PTA and community! The Desert Springs Preparatory Elementary School staff and I focus on creating a strong classroom and school community. We believe in collaborative and engaging classroom activities that foster a love for learning.
Sarah Torrilhon – Desert Trails ES
Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, I am a proud product of the Paradise Valley Unified School District. After graduating from Arizona State University, I began my teaching career in 2000 at Indian Bend Elementary School, where I taught sixth grade. Since then, I taught various grades in Paradise Valley and Scottsdale School Districts, and also worked as an online curriculum developer. I hold my Master’s degrees in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University and Educational Administration from Grand Canyon University. In 2016, I became the assistant principal at both Sonoran Sky and Boulder Creek elementary schools. In July 2017, I was elated to bring my skills as an educational leader to Desert Trails Elementary. I am honored and excited to be a member of this community, and everyday, I look forward to guiding our school toward continued success as the proud principal of Desert Trails Elementary School!
Our school is made up of dynamic staff, dedicated parents, involved community members, and students who share in the relentless pursuit of developing World-Class Thinkers. Desert Trails has an outstanding reputation when it comes to providing students with a high quality education. Together, we embrace the highest level of academic excellence, while focusing on ensuring that school is a safe place to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. As a principal, it is important to me that everyone who steps through our doors - teachers, students, and parents- are excited to be at Desert Trails!
Katrina Dieck – Eagle Ridge ES
This is my 23rd year of serving in public education. I am a product of Paradise Valley Unified School District. I attended Mercury Mine Elementary, Shea Middle, and graduated from Shadow Mountain High. I then attended Northern Arizona University where I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. Upon graduation, I had the privilege of teaching in the Fowler School District in Phoenix. My life then took a twist, and I moved to Michigan. I was honored to teach at the same school for 16 years. I taught kindergarten, first grade and was an Instructional Coach for the district. During this time, I also obtained my Master’s degree from Marygrove College in Detroit. While working as an Instructional Coach for the district, I was able to represent my district as a leader in the Galileo Leadership Academy. The academy was the catalyst for my interest in administration. During this time, I was also raising my three children. As a family, we made a decision to move back to Arizona. The only rule we had was I needed to get a job back in PVSchools, since we wanted our children to have the same educational opportunities I had. This led me to teaching sixth grade at Liberty Elementary. I also made the decision to go back to school to obtain my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Western Governors University. Upon getting my degree, I was accepted into PVSchools AIM program. After my completion of the AIM program, I was hired as the assistant principal of Shea Middle School. I served as the assistant principal for two years, and then was hired as the principal of Eagle Ridge Elementary. I am in my third year of serving the staff, students, parents, and community of Eagle Ridge. In fact, I also moved into the community. As a leader, I always put the interest of students first. I strive to model empathy, compassion, dedication, commitment, and positivity in my daily interactions with everyone. Advice a mentor once gave me was never forget what it is like to be a teacher. I constantly remind myself of that, so I make a point to be accessible and visible. I am in classrooms daily. One time, a student asked me, “Why are you always walking around instead of in your office?” My reply was simple, “The classroom is where the magic of learning takes place. The playground where I get to watch everyone have fun, and I get to talk and play with students. The cafeteria is another place where I can walk around and talk to students. Before and after school, I walk around making sure everyone arrives and leaves campus safely. To be honest, my office is boring compared to everything else that is happening on the campus. I would rather be where you are.”
Kristi Williams – Echo Mountain Primary
I am the proud principal at Echo Mountain Primary School. Before coming to Echo Mountain, I was the principal at Arrowhead Elementary School. I also was a teacher on assignment/administrative intern at Palomino Primary School. I began my teaching career in 1994 in the Washington Elementary School District and joined the PVSchools family in 1998 as a teacher. I have held other positions in the district, including reading specialist, curriculum and assessment specialist, intervention specialist and summer school site coordinator. I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Arizona State University, a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership and an Administrative Certificate from Northern Arizona University.
Echo Mountain Primary School provides a safe, supportive learning environment where all students can feel confident as learners. As a school, we are committed to a partnership, where the school, family, and community act in collaboration to support standards-based academic achievement and respect for individual differences.
At Echo Mountain Primary, we believe that children develop as productive citizens when nurtured in a climate that promotes self-esteem, self-confidence, and the desire for knowledge that will make learning a lifelong activity. It is due to this belief that you will find Echo Mountain Primary School to be a warm and welcoming environment for your child to begin his/her introduction to educational success. Echo Mountain Primary provides a solid foundation for your child's future.
Elizabeth Schrey – Echo Mountain Intermediate
I am proud to say that I am a graduate of PVSchools. I went to Sandpiper Elementary, Desert Shadows Middle, and Paradise Valley High School. I then attended Arizona State University. I taught both third and fifth grade for five years at Arrowhead Elementary School. I then became an instructional coach and mentor for four years. I was the teacher on assignment at Eagle Ridge Elementary for two years. I became principal of Echo Mountain Intermediate in the 2016-2017 school year. I am proud to say that in all my years in education, I have worked in Title I schools. The memories I have and will make in this setting are something I will forever treasure! It has been an honor to work with these incredible teachers, children, and families!
Dr. Danielle Else – Fireside ES
Born and raised in a coastal suburb of California, I moved to Arizona over a decade ago with my husband and two daughters. Moving to Arizona was a big change! We spend a good deal of time exploring this beautiful state and feel there is a great deal to discover.
I obtained three degrees from the University of Southern California – a Bachelor of Science in Business, a Master of Arts in Education Studies, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. My career in K-12 education began in 1996 in California where I worked as both a teacher and an administrator at the site and district levels. Since then, I have been involved in many programs in both California and Arizona. I am proud to be an educator working to support and guide students through their school years.
I will never forget my kindergarten teacher who shared my love of ice cream and made me feel important each and every day. I continue to be inspired by that experience and hope that I too can help make the children of Fireside feel important every day. I am honored to serve as the principal of Fireside Elementary School!
Michelle Pavlik – Grayhawk ES
I have been the principal at Grayhawk Elementary School since the 2016-17 school year. I previously served as the teacher on assignment/administrative intern at Sonoran Sky Elementary School. I joined the PVSchools family during the 1994-1995 school year as a teacher. Besides being a teacher in PVSchools, I also taught in the Madison School District. Other positions that I have held in the district include instructional coach and summer school coordinator. I earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Ottawa University and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.
At Grayhawk, we are committed to preparing every child to be successful for life in the 21st century, and to create a comfortable space for children to grow both academically and socially. When students feel safe and truly cared for, they can build their confidence, achieve success, and reach their full potential. Please join us in this journey, as our partners, as we work together to make a positive impact on every child who enters the doors of our outstanding school.
Gianna Colonna – Hidden Hills ES
My journey began in PVSchools when I entered kindergarten at Sandpiper Elementary School. I went on to Desert Shadows Middle School and graduated from Horizon High School. From there, I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Psychology and received a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling. My path led me back to PVSchools. While I was finishing up graduate school, I decided to substitute teach at Palomino Primary. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of my lifelong career in the district I had loved and appreciated since I was just five years old. I have taught resource, been a behavior support specialist, served as an assistant principal at Eagle Ridge, and for the past four years I’ve had the honor to be the principal of Hidden Hills Elementary.
Principalship is really all about the relationships that you foster with your staff, community, parents, and students. Those relationships are the foundation upon which everything else is built. It is imperative for there to be mutual respect amongst those that you serve. My staff are all specialists in what they do, and I feel my main role is to provide them with the tools and the support they need in order to be their very best.
Hidden Hills has a strong sense of family and pride in the academic environment that we create. The staff goes above and beyond in every way possible to ensure that each child reaches their full, individual potential. I feel strongly as an elementary principal that my number one job is to foster a love of school and learning for our youngest children, as I experienced. They need to see learning as an enjoyable, safe, and uplifting experience from the very beginning. Principalship is definitely not a career that I think one could ever master, but the personal growth that one achieves in its service is immeasurable.
Jan Stevens – Indian Bend ES
I am originally from Ironton, Ohio. Go Buckeyes! O-H-I-O. I came to Arizona in 1983. My journey to the principalship was different than most, and I consider it more of a calling, than a planned career path. I knew I wanted to work with people in some capacity and double majored in Elementary Education and Human Relations at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois. I actually thought I would do more social service work than a job in education. But as time marched on, it became apparent that education was the road for me.
After teaching in the Scottsdale Unified School District in the primary grades, I later served as a preschool director and then principal of a K-8 private school, prior to my years in PVSchools. Upon my move to administration, I obtained my Master’s of Arts degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision.
This is my 37th year in education and I have been a principal in Paradise Valley Unified School District since July of 2000, which makes this my 21st year in Paradise. I have served at several PV elementaries as an administrator of the following schools: Echo Mountain, Cactus View, Village Vista, and Indian Bend.
I love the job of the principal. You wake up every day and wonder what the day might bring. It doesn’t matter how you plan or schedule it, it gets scrambled as the day progresses. That is what I crave about this job. It is the unpredictability and the opportunity to work with various teams to create solutions to the many challenges that may occur. At the end of the day, it is always about student success. How can I arm my staff with the tools they need to be at their best for the children? That is what I ask myself. When I lay my head on the pillow at night and begin to wish I had maybe tried something different or responded otherwise, I ask myself, “Did I do the very best I could today for the kids?” and that is how I judge my day.
I love working in the Title I Schools and align myself with the Kids at Hope belief system that ALL children are capable of success...NO EXCEPTIONS! We pledge it and practice it every day at Indian Bend Elementary. It is a privilege to serve as the principal of Indian Bend Elementary. I am truly blessed to work with the best students and staff in the world. It is an honor.
Jamie Roberson – Larkspur ES
I am proud to say that I am a native Phoenician! I went to school in the Washington Elementary School District, and graduated from Cortez High School. I attended the University of Arizona (Go CATS!), and graduated from Arizona State University with my degree in Elementary Education. I later earned my Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University, and my administrative certificate from the University of Phoenix. This is my 24th year in PVSchools! I began my teaching career in 1997, and I had the opportunity to teach kindergarten, second grade, fifth grade and ESL during my years in the classroom. I was the assistant principal at Wildfire Elementary School during the 2008-2009 school year, and moved to Liberty Elementary School in January 2012 as the assistant principal. I served as the principal of Liberty Elementary School from August 2012 to May 2016. Since July 2016, I have been at Larkspur Elementary School where I love coming to school each day to spend time with our wonderful students and staff! It has been an exciting adventure since I entered the PVSchools District, and I have truly enjoyed every moment with all of our children, families, and staff.
Jennifer Penoyer – Liberty ES
I am grateful and excited for this opportunity to serve as the interim principal of Liberty Elementary and to support the students, staff, and families for the 2020-2021 school year. I joined the PV family in 2011, serving six years as a teacher at Copper Canyon Elementary and the past three years as the assistant principal at Eagle Ridge Elementary. Prior to moving to Arizona from Florida in 2011, I was a reading specialist, a new teacher mentor, and a classroom teacher for 11 years in grades Pre-K through fifth. I graduated from the University of Florida with both Bachelor and Master of Education degrees. I earned a second Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Arizona State University in 2017.
My husband, Dave, and I have been married since 1995, and we have two beautiful daughters, Ava and Lily. Ava is in her second year at the University of Arizona, and Lily is a freshman at the University of Florida. When I have free time, I enjoy adventures with my family, hiking, going to the movies, traveling, and reading.
As the new building administrator, my priorities and commitment to the Liberty community are to:
- Build solid relationships with the students, staff and families.
- Support and strengthen successful programs already in place.
- Support the overall health and well-being of students and staff.
- Value passion and purpose to make a difference.
- Bring energy and positivity to our campus every day.
I look forward to working with each of you as partners in your child’s education. I am honored to serve at Liberty, and I am committed to continuing the school’s tradition of excellence.
It’s great to be a Patriot!
Donna Alley – Mercury Mine ES
I knew I wanted to be in education from the moment I can remember. I used to practically torture my younger sisters by making them be my students for hours on end. Nothing made me happier, but I may have sullied their outlook on school a bit. I grew up an AirForce brat and over the course of my elementary through high school years, I attended nine schools, with 4th-6th and 9th-11th in the Panama Canal Zone. Growing up on the beaches and in the jungles was a glorious experience that I cherish.
After high school graduation, my family spent a few months traveling to the US through Central America and Mexico; landing in Tucson where my dad retired. I met and married my husband, an Iowa farm boy, the complete opposite of me. We have been married for 42 years and have raised three amazing daughters. He was in retail management, and we spent the first eight years in the midwest, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. Our three girls were born in those states. After all that travel and change, we made our way back to Phoenix and completely settled down in the PV School District.
I began teaching at Mercury Mine in the fall of 1993 after graduating from Arizona State University. I taught fourth and fifth grade for eight years, while also getting my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University and completing the PV Administrative program. I became the principal of Mercury Mine 20 years ago. Becoming the principal of a school where you are teaching is rare and it took some adjustment. But Mercury Mine is my second home. It is such a beautiful and unique school; both its grounds, buildings and it’s community, parents, students, and staff.
I love being a part of an elementary school. It is so fun to see the growth of a student from their first encounter with school until they are ready to be launched into their young adolescence and on to beginning independence. Every year as we say goodbye to our 6th graders, it is truly emotional to see their little kindergarten faces on the video salutes we show at their promotion celebrations. We work hard at Mercury Mine to make sure that the students at our school over the span of K-6 have an abundance of opportunities to experience as many learning choices as they can before, during, and after school. These are the years to explore.
I now have the added plus of having all three of my girls and their families live in the surrounding neighborhoods and four of my six grandchildren attend Mercury Mine. The last two should be starting next year in kindergarten and preschool. I truly cannot think of a better career than getting the chance to keep on going to school every year, day in and day out. “On with Mercury, On with Mercury, On with Mercury Mine.”
Dr. Missy Martin – North Ranch ES
I love my job! I have been in the Paradise Valley Unified School District since 2008, although I actually started my teaching journey in 2000 in the Scottsdale Unified School District. I have taught all levels of education, but believe my true passion is for the elementary learning environment. I believe engaging and supporting all children early on their path to success starts at the induction level of education and is enhanced by ongoing parent, teacher, and community partnerships. This partnership is a collaborative effort that ensures each child can reach their highest potential. Every child at North Ranch Elementary is capable of growth and success, with no exceptions.
I am the mother of three boys, my oldest son, Calvin, is a graduate of Northern Arizona University, Colman is a graduate of the University of Arizona Eller School of Business, and my youngest son Clayton is a senior at Desert Mountain High School. I myself am a graduate of the University of Arizona where I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Studies, followed by post-graduate work at the University of Phoenix with a Master’s of Education degree in Administration and Supervision. I have just defended my dissertation in July and completed my Doctoral Studies in the field of Educational Leadership.
I look forward to my continued journey in PVSchools. Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow from parents, students and staff, and especially from our little Wranglers. Our students are the window to the future, and I look forward to guiding, supporting and providing them to a clear vision for continued growth both academically and social emotionally. I am so proud and honored to be the Principal of North Ranch.
Stephen Lee – Palomino Primary
The best part of my job is to be able to see students truly engaged in and excited about learning. I also enjoy working with a team of educators to solve complex issues. I want students to know that if they work hard and set goals, there is no limit to what they can achieve.
I help make Palomino Primary safe through careful planning, training, and teamwork. Adults at Palomino Primary teach students to be caring and safe through Passport day and weekly OLWEUS meetings. Through the Make Your Day with Palomino Pride program, students are taught to use their words to solve conflict and take responsibility for their own actions.
Participate as much as you can in your child’s education. Ask your child how his/her day was and look in their backpack. Read with your children every day and do not hesitate to call your child’s teacher if you have a question. Ask your child’s teacher for volunteer opportunities and come to our reading and math nights.
Jenny Robles – Palomino Intermediate
The best part of my job would be the students and staff. Everyday I am excited to come to work and see all of the children and teachers. They are the best. They inspire me to make a difference in the lives of children.
You can do anything you set your mind to doing in life. Set your goals and the steps it will take you to get there and do it. Make a difference everyday.
Creating a community among staff centered on improving the lives of children through education is important. Enlisting teachers who know how to work as a team and who value the benefits of teamwork. Surround yourself with excellence.
I am most proud of the hard work and dedication to education I see everyday in the staff and students. We have accomplished amazing results in the past few years due to this strong commitment to success on the part of everyone. We have all come together to raise student achievement and to create an atmosphere that is conducive to loving learning and pride in who we are at Palomino Intermediate.
Dr. Aaron Freed – Pinnacle Peak Preparatory
I am originally from Minnesota. I grew up loving sports, music, and building things. These interests drew me to great “teachers” who were coaches, directors, and my activity sponsors. I attended a small college, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where I learned so much about the importance of relationships in education. I taught elementary band for 10 years before getting my administrator license. I took an amazing opportunity to move to Colorado to be the assistant principal and athletic director at a small rural middle school in Pagosa Springs. While working here, I completed my doctorate degree in K-12 Educational Leadership. It was in this doctoral program and working with a small but energetic group of teachers, I learned about the importance of community in schools. I bring the ideas of relationships and community building as central tennents to my role as principal of Pinnacle Peak Preparatory.
A previous experience that drives me to work hard to create a sense of family and community happened slowly over my time as an assistant principal. As the person who dealt with behavior management, I spent my fair share of time with students who were in trouble. I reminded myself every time a student was in my office that I was dealing with them on one of the worst days of their week, year, or maybe even their life. I tried to be fair, honest, and clear with each of them, so they knew I cared for them the same way I cared for those who stood out in positive ways. When I announced I would be leaving that school to take the job as principal of Pinnacle Peak, the first two emails I received were from two students who were in trouble quite often. They both said they always appreciated they knew where they stood with me. I think that is only possible when we are a community, and a family.
The PPPS family of learners collaborates within an engaging community that is passionate, purposeful, and productive. I am lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of this community of learners. If you are looking for a school where your child will feel like a part of the family, be asked to be a leader, and will know their teacher is engaged in the process of improvement as much as we expect each student to be, Pinnacle Peak is for you.
Marta Maynard – Quail Run ES
This is my 23rd year working in public education. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and earned a Post-Baccalaureate teaching certification from the University of Arizona. I began my teaching career in Tucson Unified School District where I taught for three years. After my husband and I had our son, we decided to move back to Phoenix to be closer to family. I joined the Paradise Valley Unified School District in 2000. I taught at Palomino Elementary for a year and then transitioned to Arrowhead Elementary, where I remained for 10 years. My teaching experience ranges from kindergarten through sixth grade. During my teaching career, I was awarded the Esperanza Award and earned my National Board Certification. During my last two years at Arrowhead, I served as an Instructional Coach. I earned my Master's degree in Education Administration from Grand Canyon University in 2010, the same year I was selected as a Rodel Aspiring Principal. I served as assistant principal at Wildfire Elementary for two years prior to joining the Quail Run Community in 2013.
At Quail Run, we are proud to be an authorized International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme World School. The Primary Years Programme curriculum supports the social, emotional, and academic development of our students. Through the inquiry process, students are actively engaged in their own learning and are challenged and encouraged to take action from their learning. The Learner Profile develops students who are inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, as well as knowledgeable and caring students who are principled, open-minded, balanced, and reflective. Teacher collaboration and ongoing professional growth are at the core of our success. Quail Run staff work together to continuously refine and improve our units of inquiry. Our world is constantly evolving. At Quail Run, we seek to offer all students the educational opportunities that will maximize their potential in this changing world.
Jessie Kinney-Alcazar – Sandpiper ES
I am honored to be part of Sandpiper Elementary School and the Paradise Valley School District, which are known for its dedication to excellence, but more importantly, to students. Not only am I excited to begin working with your children, but also I look forward to the work we will do together as a staff. It is my deep belief that in order to have a successful school it is critical to cultivate a collaborative environment where parents, teachers, and administrators work as a cohesive team that provides a solid foundation for growth and progress with each child.
My goal is to ensure that all children are healthy, happy and safe, so that they can prosper academically and socially. This has been my philosophy since I started my teaching career. For the past 28 years, I have worked as a teacher, teacher trainer, and administrator. I have focused my entire professional career on working in schools and departments that are dedicated to language learning. I have had a great opportunity to work in Arizona, California, Mexico, Romania, and Italy. I have taught English as a second language to K-12 students, I have been a high school Spanish teacher and also a K / 1 teacher of bilingual education. I have advised and trained teachers and administrators on learning strategies for students who are learning a second language and how best to support their families. I was born in Quito, Ecuador, and had the great opportunity to study in a bilingual school. My bilingual skills have helped me throughout my personal and professional life and therefore it is my goal to support and improve bilingual schools so that our students can use these skills today and in the future.
I am so thankful to have the opportunity to bring all that I have experienced and learned with me to your wonderful community. I look forward to getting to know you and your children.
Robert Dawson – Sonoran Sky ES
I began my career with the PVSchools District in 1999 with a Master’s of Arts degree from Grand Canyon University and a Master’s in Education from Northern Arizona University. I have been at Sonoran Sky since 2012 and became the principal in 2013.
I really enjoy spending time in classrooms and being able to see all the fun and exciting lessons and activities that our students participate in. It is so exciting to be able to witness learning in action. Spending time with students and getting to know more about them and what they like to do or where they went on vacation with their families is something I look forward to every day.
I do my best to promote a feeling of safety and community on our campus. I try to be available and visible whenever possible – before school, after school and throughout the day. This allows me to have conversations and really get a good feeling for what is happening on our campus. Student safety is our number one priority. Our policies and procedures are constantly monitored and adjusted to ensure we are doing the best job we can. We will never stop aiming high in our pursuit of a safe and positive school environment.
I believe the key to improving student achievement really begins with understanding what the individual student needs are. Assessing where a student is and where they need to be is where good teaching starts. Our teachers excel at understanding individual learning needs and meeting them through a variety of diverse methods and strategies.
Teresa Simmons – Sunset Canyon ES
I have called Arizona home for many years, but was born and raised in Indiana. My husband and I moved out here and fell in love with Arizona. We raised two amazing children and now have four incredible grandchildren. I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Education at Arizona State University and my Master’s degree at Northern Arizona University. I have taught special education at Larkspur Elementary, fifth and sixth grades at North Ranch Elementary, and then moved into administration. I was assistant principal at Grayhawk Elementary and then became the proud principal at Arrowhead Elementary, where I stayed for seven years. I then became principal of Fireside Elementary for four wonderful years. I am now the principal of the awesome Sunset Canyon Elementary School.
I loved being a teacher and watching students grow both academically and emotionally. To be a part of a student’s learning journey is fun, challenging, and rewarding. I became a principal, so I could have an impact on even more students than my own classroom. And I have been fortunate to have worked with the most incredible teachers who are so committed to supporting the needs of their students.
PVSchools has been my home for more than 25 years, and I have loved every minute of it. It has been an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this outstanding district.
Johnny Brownlie – Whispering Wind Academy
Well my journey into education wasn’t as straightforward as it is for many educators. I started off in college as an accounting major, while working part time as a lifeguard teaching little kids how to swim. It never occurred to me that education could or should be a career path until I was encouraged by my pool manager, who saw my passion for teaching kids how to swim and the natural connection built with kids. So after some soul searching, I ultimately changed my path in college, transferring to the college of education and excelling in my studies.
As I was preparing to start my education career, I knew that ultimately I wanted to go into administration to affect change on a larger scale. My focus has always been to help all kids be successful and am still driven by that charge nineteen years later. Having been here at Whispering Wind for the past ten years, we have experienced a lot of changes, always keeping the focus on helping all students be successful.
During my time at Whispering Wind, we have instilled the perspective of our staff being a part of our community and working to support that community as a family. If we are a part of the community and working as a family, Our Mission to “Ensure high levels of learning for all students” deeply impacts the decisions we make and how we structure our learning environment for all students. I love to serve the WWA community!
Ryan Schoonover – Wildfire ES
The 2020-2021 school year will mark my 16th year in education. This will be my third year in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, and my third year as principal of Wildfire Elementary School. I started my teaching career in the Kansas City, Kansas School District where I taught Social Studies and Science in grades 6-8. I was also an after-school math and reading tutor to students, and coached middle school soccer and as well as the Student Council sponsors.
In 2012, my wife and I moved to Arizona, and I became the K-12 Social Studies Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment specialist for the Deer Valley School District. I held that position for three years and helped develop curriculum and assessments for the district, provide professional development to teachers and district administrators, as well as create lessons for the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and the Maricopa County Education Service Agency. In the summer of 2013, I taught English to elementary students at summer school programs in Beijing, China.
Prior to becoming principal at Wildfire Elementary School, I served as assistant principal at Canyon Springs STEM Academy and Sunset Ridge School, which are Pre-K-8 schools in the Deer Valley School District. I am a Level 1 and Level 2 Google Certified Educator and am working towards my Google Certified Trainer endorsement.
To me, ensuring student success at Wildfire Elementary isn’t just a job. My son Caleb is in kindergarten at WFES and this has only strengthened my resolve to ensure that all our students receive the education and school experience that I would want for my own son.
Derek Hummert – Desert Shadows MS
I’m originally from Belleville, Illinois, just across the river from St. Louis. I benefited from a quality public school education, completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Iowa and a Masters of Education at the University of Illinois. I moved to Arizona in 2006. I’m married with two sons. My family likes to travel and be outdoors when possible.
I came to Desert Shadows Middle School for the 2016-2017 school year after 5 years at Desert Springs Preparatory Elementary School. Prior to my time in PVSchools, I was an assistant principal at the middle school level in Scottsdale Schools. I'm very happy to lead and support a vibrant middle school setting at DSMS where anything is possible!
Successful schools flourish when parents and teachers work together to create an environment that is safe, healthy, and goal oriented. We’ll work at our school to create this setting for the benefit of students. Our students have two school years (360 school days) at the middle level to navigate through a more complex daily schedule, achieve in a more rigorous academic setting, and experience the social opportunities and challenges that come in a large, healthy middle school. Our efforts will be aimed at delivering a class of great thinkers to Horizon High School each year. We're going to have a lot of fun along the way.
Kyle Shappee – Explorer MS
I am originally from upstate New York, and a die-hard New York Giants fan. At the age of 20, I moved to Arizona with three of my best friends to attend ASU, and I never left. I have lived in Arizona long enough now to consider myself a native. I love our Arizona sun, weather, and the beauty of our desert.
My wife and I have been married 30 years and we are blessed with two sons who attended Paradise Valley schools and are Boulder Creek ES, Mountain Trail MS, and Pinnacle High School alum! And my wife is a proud Horizon Husky! My oldest son graduated from the Barrett Honors College at ASU with dual majors in Industrial Design and Design Management. My youngest son graduated from Grand Canyon University with a degree in Christian Studies and is currently working on his Masters. We are a family that loves our dogs, hanging by the pool, vacationing together, supporting one another, and a great family game night.
Becoming an educator was a second career for me. My undergraduate degree is in Business Administration which allowed me the opportunity to manage many great restaurants in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe area. After much reflection and discussion with my wife I realized the difference that many of my teachers had in forming the person I was, and I wished to do the same for students I would teach in the future. Deciding to change careers meant that I would need to embark on the long journey of going back to school. I now hold a Master of Elementary Education (ASU) and a Master of Educational Leadership (NAU). When I was teaching I taught fifth and sixth grade and enjoyed every minute of it. I have a pretty unique favorite memory from my time as a teacher. I was teaching fifth grade at Boulder Creek Elementary where both of my sons attended school and my sons both wanted to be in my class for their respective fifth grade year. After much discussion with the principal, my wife, and our sons we decided it was a good fit. It was an awesome experience and I am grateful for the time we spent together everyday, and the relationships I was able to make with all of their friends that continues today.
My twenty-six year career with PVSchools has given me the opportunity to teach at Echo Mountain and Boulder Creek Elementary School, serve as the Title 1 coordinator and dean of students at Greenway Middle School, assistant principal at Desert Shadows Middle School, principal at Copper Canyon Elementary School, and I am now in my fifth year as the principal at Explorer Middle School.
It is our commitment at Explorer and my personal philosophy that guides me in everything we do.The great challenge for any school is to find a way to meet the needs of each student that walks through the doors each day. Our (my) mission is to cultivate world-class thinkers where every student feels Safe, Known, and Cared For, and believes they have the ability to learn anything. We believe the essential skills for success are collaboration, creativity, communication, critical thinking, and empathy. Explorer Middle School students will be the leaders of tomorrow with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to realize their dreams in an ever-changing world. We strive to create a climate where students want to go to school, parents want to send their children, and teachers want to teach. Every member of our community plays a vital role in the success of our students by supporting a positive student-focused learning environment.
It is a privilege to be the principal of Explorer Middle School. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to serve the students, families, staff, and community of the Explorer Trailblazers!
Jeff Quisberg – Greenway MS
I am the proud principal of Greenway Middle School. I am beginning my third year at Greenway and Paradise Valley Unified School District and entering my 41st year in education. My experiences in education include teaching various grades K-12, director positions, coaching and serving as a principal Pre K-8. Throughout my career, I have had the great honor to work with many outstanding individuals and groups in schools, school districts, various communities, and at the state level in both Arizona and Minnesota.
My wife and if have been married for more than 40 years and have three grown married children and a dozen grandchildren. We love to travel around the United States and enjoy seeing the beautiful wonders of our nation. I am a Western novel reader and my favorite author is Louis L’Amour. We enjoy going to the places in the Southwest that he wrote about. At this point in my life, I am an armchair athlete and enjoy watching our Arizona college and professional sports teams. Every so often I dust off my golf clubs and I also get in some hiking once it cools off here in the desert.
My love of education started as a young child as both of my grandmothers were teachers. I guess I followed in their footsteps. I love to see students first learn to count, then read and eventually write. We are all lifelong learners and I continue to learn new things everyday.
Patrick Clancy – Mountain Trail MS
I was born and raised in Phoenix and blessed with talented and loving parents and three sisters who are among the most impressive human beings I’ve ever known. Ultimately, I moved to Northern California to attend Santa Clara University (SCU) and graduated in 1993 with an undergraduate degree in Business Finance. Even at that young age, I recognized I was living a charmed life. I felt obligated to give back some of my blessings to those who were faced with more struggle. After graduating from SCU, I entered a one year volunteer teaching program. I was placed at a K-8 school in inner-city San Francisco to teach P.E. to all grade levels. Ultimately, I also taught seventh grade science and social studies after a teacher resigned mid-year, and served as the school’s athletic director and boys basketball coach. Nearly all of the students walked to school from project housing across the street.
Prior to that point, I had never considered education as a career path even though I had always enjoyed working with kids. In that year; however, I fell in love with teaching… every aspect of it… especially mentoring students. There’s no doubt I learned more from the students, their families, and my new school community than they learned from me. The entire experience was life-changing and life-shaping. At the end of that year, I figured it was time to start my “real job.” In my mind, teaching was simply too much fun to count as a job. I moved to Seattle and worked in public relations and marketing for a few years. I loved my new job, but every day I missed the kids, teachers, and the wonderful school community.
That was the first time, my heart pulled me back to working with students and teachers.
I moved back to Phoenix, went back to school, earned a degree in elementary education, and secured a job as a middle school science and social studies teacher. In the end, I taught middle school for a total of nine glorious years (not including the year in San Francisco), during which I married the absolute best human being I know and became a father to two amazing sons. My final four years as a middle school teacher were at Mountain Trail Middle School – the first four years the school was open. I transitioned into administration as the dean of students at Pinnacle High School for a year, became the assistant principal at Desert Shadows Middle School for two years, served as the principal at Whispering Wind Academy (K-6) for two years, then returned as the principal at Desert Shadows Middle School for five years. I spent the last four years serving as a director at the district office in PVSchools. (For those of you who are good at math, you have clearly determined that I’m 95 years old.) I loved being a director at the district office, but every day I missed the kids, teachers, and the wonderful school community.
That was the second time my heart pulled me back to working with students and teachers.
Last winter, when I learned the principal position at MTMS might open, I immediately asked “the bosses” to consider me for the position. The blessings in my life have been a constant. I was lucky enough to be placed as the new principal at MTMS. July 8,2020, was my first official day on the job.
I helped open MTMS as a teacher. Both my sons attended MTMS as students. My wife works at MTMS. We live in the MTMS community. Our neighbors have kids who attend MTMS. Other neighbors have kids who will attend MTMS in the coming years. I could not be more invested in the immediate and long term success of our school and I could not be more excited and grateful to serve as your school principal. We have immeasurable potential to create something truly special for our kids and families. Based on my 95 years (nearly) in middle level education, here’s what I know…
Your child’s middle school experience will be defined by change. During the middle school years, your children will change more socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually than at any other time in their lives. Working with students through these changes is exceptionally enjoyable and rewarding, but our approach must be intentionally designed to help them overcome the challenges we know they will face. We are prepared to engage them intellectually and creatively, celebrate their successes, and springboard off their typical early-adolescent mistakes to help them realize their best selves.
Though all our incoming students will be changing together, they will also be changing differently. There is no such thing as a “typical” middle school student. Some students will arrive at MTMS organized, prepared, and independently successful. Others will seem aloof, unorganized, and need more teacher and parent support to be successful. The one constant is that all middle-schoolers need to be appreciated, nurtured, loved, and accepted. You have my word your child will not get lost at MTMS. We will love your kids “as if” our own and work hard to learn their strengths and unique characteristics.
Scott Lawrence – Shea MS
I fell in love with music in high school, and I knew I wanted to be involved in music. My parents wisely suggested music education in case my performing career didn’t generate an income that would sustain me. I became a high school band director, then later a K-8 music teacher. My love of music has never waned, but what has grown even stronger is my love of teaching children. That has set me on my path to become a school administrator, where I could help shape a school that would serve its community well. I am now beginning my 25th year in education after spending 15 years in the classroom, six years as an assistant principal and now starting my fourth year as principal of Shea Middle School. I just recently celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary, and have four beautiful children, the oldest of which began his first year as a teacher last year!
My mission is to create an environment where your child can do their best work. We do this by providing rigorous academic engagement and opportunities to develop strong character. Academically, we expect students to Read More, Write More, Think More, Speak More. Focusing on building literacy skills, communication skills, and problem-solving skills will propel our students to success.
We build character through helping students develop skills in Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making. Students demonstrate character as a Shea Scorpion by demonstrating Self-Control, Taking Responsibility, Integrity, Niceness, and Grit (STING). My favorite quote that sits on the shelf in my office is my hope for our students – “Be kind, for everyone you know is facing a hard battle.”
Middle school is a pivotal time for teenagers. It is when they really start making decisions about who they want to be as they grow older. Walking with teenagers through this period of life is an honor and an obligation I take seriously. They need caring adults at this point in their lives more than ever. I love these kids and I want to help them see the best part of themselves. I want to give them increased responsibility and then teach them how to use it wisely. We only get two years with our students, and we know that the seeds we plant we may not get to see come to fruition when they are with us. But we are confident that the work we do with those in our care will leave an indelible mark on their lives. And there is no greater joy for me than that knowledge.
Greg Martin – Sunrise MS
I was born and bred in Phoenix, a rare native Arizonan! I grew up and attended school in the Washington Elementary School District and also attended Cortez High School. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at the University of Arizona and Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. I started my career in education in the Washington Elementary School District, where I chaired social studies and coached various athletic teams. I soon moved on to service as an assistant principal in the Peoria Unified School District.
I came to PVSchools in 1999 as the principal at Foothills Elementary School. From 1999-2002, I served the Foothills community and then had the honor of being named principal at Sunrise Middle School. I have been principal at Sunrise since 2002.
Sunrise is focused on the 21st century learner. Our commitment to student success is evidenced in our commitment to developing well-rounded students (academically, socially and emotionally). Some of the accomplishments I am most proud of during my tenure include Sunrise being recognized as an excelling school for many years and most recently a high “B” school within the Arizona performance labeling system. Also, Sunrise was fortunate to be chosen to house the Digital Learning Center (DLC) for the Gifted, a cutting edge program servicing 100 highly gifted students from around the Valley. Most recently, Sunrise was chosen to house both the Dual Language Mandarin Immersion (DLMI) and Dual Language Spanish Immersion (DLSI) programs, as well as establishing the most state-of-the-art science labs in the district.
I feel fortunate to have had such a long tenure as the principal at Sunrise Middle School. We have endeavored to hire teachers who are committed to providing meaningful and engaging instruction while leaning on technology as the learning conduit between teacher and student. We encourage students to expand their horizons by participating in as many activities as possible whether it be within our outstanding fine arts’ programs, athletics, student clubs, etc. Research shows that the more students get actively involved in their school, the more successful they will be in all aspects of what it means to be successful students and citizens.
Paul Ferrero – Vista Verde MS
I am a Phoenix native, and I attended schools in the Scottsdale Unified School District and graduated from Arcadia High School. During my senior year of high school, I was awarded the Scottsdale Charros Future Teacher Scholarship, which helped me start my journey into the field of education. I graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Multilingual/Multicultural Elementary Education. I continued my education by attending graduate school at Grand Canyon University, earning my Master's degree in Education Administration.
This year, I begin my third year as Vista Verde’s principal. It is my 13th year in education. As a former middle school math teacher (Isaac School District), it was great to be back at the middle school after six years at the high school level as an assistant principal (Scottsdale Unified School District). I am excited for changes happening at Vista Verde in order to help all students grow and achieve success. This school year, we are continuing our focus with our “Enrichment and Intervention” period to ensure that all students' needs are being met. We are using Response To Intervention (R.T.I.) practices to support this initiative in order to better prepare all Vista Verde students for high school.
At Vista Verde Middle School, there are many opportunities for students to become successful. Our teachers are committed to providing meaningful and engaging instruction. We have strong nationally recognized academic programs with AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and our International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (M.Y.P.).
Linda Ihnat – Horizon HS
I have been involved in Paradise Valley Schools since 1970 (yes, dating myself) when I started elementary school at Cholla. I then was the first class at Shea Middle and the first graduating class at Shadow Mountain. I moved on to earn my Bachelor’s of Arts degree and Master’s degree in Elementary Education, and my principal certification at Arizona State University. I taught kindergarten, and fifth and sixth grades at Aire Libre Elementary before opening Hidden Hills Elementary. I coached softball for years, which led me to teaching Special Education at Horizon High. For the last 20 years, I have been an assistant principal and now principal at Horizon High. Although I live quite a distance from Paradise Valley, my heart lies in this community. I’ve gone to school here, taught here, coached here, and been involved in the community. I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else, as it’s been part of my life since I was 10 years old. I believe the caring culture and proud moments are what this community is all about.
The best advice I can give anyone is to always keep your options open, you never know where your path leads! I never thought I’d be at the high school!
Melissa Molzhon – North Canyon HS
I have been very fortunate to be a part of the Paradise Valley Family since 1997. My daughter started kindergarten that year at Cactus View Elementary, and I joined the PTO board the same year, starting our family's journey with the Paradise Valley Unified School District. I began my professional career with PV teaching first grade at Cactus View when my youngest son went to first grade in 2003. I have had the opportunity to be a parent, PTO member, teacher, instructional coach, an administrator at Grayhawk Elementary as assistant principal and the principal at Boulder Creek Elementary. Now, I am beginning my fourth year as principal at North Canyon High School. I have enjoyed all of my experiences throughout my career, so it is difficult to pick a most memorable moment; however, being at my children's elementary school as a teacher was a great experience. I am from a small town in Iowa, and most of the teachers in our town had children who went through the school with them, so I was so happy to do that myself. One of the things that I enjoy the most as a principal is that you can effect change on a larger scale and make a difference for more students. It is also incredibly rewarding to be a part of so many different aspects of a student's education, whether in the classroom, watching them on stage, on the field, or graduation. It's an honor to serve the North Canyon community. All three of my children graduated from North Canyon, and I have lived in the community for almost 30 years, so it is home to me.
Ian Deonise – Paradise Valley HS
I am entering my 29th year in education and have loved every one of them. I have been fortunate to work as an administrator in PVSchools for the past 16 years. I started my first day as a high school principal in 2013, the same day my oldest son started high school at the same school, Paradise Valley High School. I have enjoyed many wonderful experiences during my career, but the highlight to this point was presiding over my own son’s graduation ceremony and handing him a diploma. I look forward to repeating that with my youngest son in May 2022. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this community and I work hard to ensure all our students are safe, known and cared for. For those of you looking to enter the profession, I can tell you it has been an amazing experience. Be prepared to adapt to an ever changing environment, embrace the challenges as opportunities to grow, and as a good friend always says, “enjoy every second.” This is the best job in the world.
Dr. Chad Smith – Pinnacle HS
It is a tremendous honor and privilege to work alongside such a wonderful faculty, staff, students, and parents that make up the Pioneer community. Our School is most certainly a unique and special place - a true academic community made better by all those who have gone before us.
I am originally from Southern California and moved to Arizona three years ago. I am a proud graduate of the University of Utah, where I earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning. I returned to Southern California to pursue my Master of Planning degree in Urban and Regional Planning and Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California (Fight On!). In 2002, I decided to change careers and earned my teaching credential from Argosy University. In 2016, I completed my Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California.
Professionally, I worked as a High School Science teacher at Baldwin Park High School, Fullerton High School and Tustin High School. I taught Earth and Space Science and Oceanography, as well as Student Leadership. I coached football, basketball, and track and was the activities director at Tustin High School. In 2007, I became the assistant principal at Tustin High School (my alma mater, Go Tillers!). In 2012, I served as principal of South Hills High School in West Covina, CA. In 2017, my family moved to Arizona and I became the principal of Pat Tillman Middle School in the Balsz School District in Phoenix.
On a personal note, I have two children who attend schools in Mesa. I am also the guardian of a 25-year son who lives in California.
I am an avid snow skier, scuba diver, and hiker. I am actively involved in youth sports and coach baseball, football and soccer. I also teach Tae Kwon Do and recently completed my fourth Dan Black Belt.
It is important to me that your son or daughter have a valuable educational experience at Pinnacle High School. I believe that communication, positivity and teamwork form the foundation of a successful school. I am excited and honored to serve the Pinnacle Community.
David Appleman – Shadow Mountain HS
I began my career in public education as a teacher in 1994, and have spent the past 15 years as an administrator in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. It has been an honor working with students, parents, and teachers for all of these years. I could not imagine doing anything more rewarding or gratifying. Every day educators and administrators have the awesome gift and responsibility of being able to make a difference in a student’s life. The best advice that I can give to parents looking for a school for their child is that “students will get out of school what they put into it.” I went to a school that had a pretty rough reputation in New York City, but there I learned Latin, fell in love with Shakespeare, and played Lacrosse. All schools will provide great educational opportunities for students. The trick to getting a great education is making sure your child embraces all of the opportunities that are available to them. If they make every day count, they will move on to be successful in college, career, and life! I am proud to be an administrator in the Paradise Valley School District, and I look forward to many more years helping our students foster their love of learning.
Dr. Patrice De La Osa – PVOnline
As a lifelong educator and learner, I am thrilled to serve the Paradise Valley community as the administrator for PVOnline. My commitment to student choice and providing families with opportunities to support their students' educational journey motivates me to work with staff to provide a supportive online learning environment that offers students and families flexibility.
Over the past 20 years, I have worked in large urban traditional high schools, International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, alternative/choice programs, evening school programs, and virtual schools. My experience includes working as a flipped classroom expert, instructional designer, curriculum coach, writer, and college professor.
Paradise Valley Unified School District is committed to providing choice for families and students. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about virtual learning to make an informed choice when choosing PVOnline for full-time enrollment or to supplement existing academic schedules.
Susan Miller – Roadrunner
I started my career in education while I was still living in Illinois in the field of early childhood. I taught preschool for many years while, at the same time, I worked for the Park District developing and implementing after school programs and extracurricular activities for school age children. I spent many summers running day camps for K-8 students. Through this experience, I had the opportunity to work directly with families in many capacities, and grew to appreciate the partnerships we developed along the way to support their children in being successful. During this time period, I raised two daughters who are now both college graduates and are raising families of their own. I have five amazing school-aged grandchildren.
It was through my work in the summer camps that I became interested in the field of special education, and particularly in the area of emotional disabilities. While still working for the Park District, I went back to school to get a degree in education and obtained my special education teaching certificate. While still in Illinois, I taught fourth - sixth grade students in a resources setting, but then chose to move to Arizona.
When deciding to leave the Chicago area, I had many opportunities open to me. I chose to come to PVSchools and particularly to Roadrunner School to be a part of this amazing behavioral program. Learning and utilizing the Boys Town Model had a transformational effect on my teaching practice and led to many successes for my students. After teaching high school science for 11 years, I took on the role of principal.
As principal, my goal is to create a collaborative and supportive environment for our staff, students and families. I believe that in this environment, all of our students can succeed and achieve the highest of their goals. It is both a privilege and an honor to serve the staff, students and families of the Roadrunner School Community.
Diane Silvestri – Sweetwater Community
This is my 31st year in education and I am currently the principal of Sweetwater Community School, which is my dream job. I love working with our students and the challenges they face on a daily basis. I have worked at all levels; elementary, middle, and high school, and also worked in the Human Resources Department as a director for five years. I am happiest when I am working with students! My favorite quote, which I share with the graduating class each year is, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams - live the life you have imagined.”