District 5495 Youth Services News

Submitted by Dr. Honora Norton
Public Image Chair, Rotary Club of Sun Lakes

The Rotary Club of Sun Lakes congratulated and presented an award to the Chandler Unified School District April 2024 Teacher of the Month.   

According to RCSL Education Chair Gary Kay, the award selection is based on teacher’s total years of service in the field of education; examples of how the teacher goes above the normal requirements and enhances student education; the respect shown for the teacher by her/his peers, students, and parents; and the teacher’s involvement in extracurricular activities and service in the community. 

A $500 check is awarded to the honored teacher - $200 from the RCSL, $200 from Earnhardt Automotive Center and $100 from Trust Bank.  

Debra Georgvich, Special Education Department Chair at CUSD’s Santan Junior High School, was named RCSL’s April 2024 Teacher of the Month.  

For the past 12 years Debra has excelled in special education, 4th grade and administration. She earned a dual bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University in elementary education and special education with an emphasis in learning disabilities;  a master's degree in educational leadership; and her principal certificate. 

Per Paige Green, her nominating teacher, Debra possesses a heart overflowing with compassion for her students.  She takes a genuine interest in each child’s well being; and  fosters trust, positive relationships and a nurturing environment where students feel safe to explore, learn and grow. Her dedication goes far beyond the classroom walls.  

For more information about Rotary Club of Sun Lakes – see www.sunlakesrotary.com

Submitted by Chuck Marr
President-Elect Rotary Club of Sedona Village
The Rotary Club of Sedona Village is proud to announce the recipients of its annual summer camp scholarships. This year, all the winners are high school students from Red Rock High School.
Russ Snider, a member of the Rotary Club of Sedona Village, presented scholarships to five deserving students, enabling them to pursue their passions and further their skills in various fields.
The scholarship recipients, along with the camps they will be attending, are as follows:
1.             Ari Tedrick - AZ Pole Vault Academy
2.            Sofia Wolf/SRRHS - Sedona Dance Academy
3.            Teddy Arizmendi/SRR JRH - Sedona Dance Academy
4.            Atlas Branch/SRR JRH - AZ Soccer Association Camp
5.            Luke Metzger/SRR JRH - AZ Soccer Association Camp
These scholarships are a testament to the Rotary Club of Sedona Village's commitment to supporting youth in our community. Through the summer camp scholarship program, the club aims to empower young individuals to pursue their interests and develop valuable skills in their respective fields.
"We are thrilled to award these scholarships to such talented and hardworking students," said Russ Snider, a representative of the Rotary Club of Sedona Village. "Investing in the education and growth of our youth is at the heart of our mission, and we are proud to support their endeavors."
The families of the scholarship recipients expressed their gratitude for the opportunity these scholarships provide. Amy Tedrick, mother of Ari, shared, "Ari heard about the scholarship in the morning announcement at SRRHS. He decided to fill out the paperwork to help pay for the camp he would like to attend this summer. Ari has enjoyed learning how to throw himself through the air. An intensive camp will give him the opportunity to learn and achieve his goals in pole vaulting."
Nadia Wolf, mother of Sofia, added, "Our family feels very blessed that Sofia found and applied for this scholarship. She is a very goal-oriented, hardworking girl who is always looking for any opportunity to grow as a ballet dancer. Thank you, Rotary Club, for investing in the future generation!"
The Rotary Club of Sedona Village is also taking applications for the 5 summer camp scholarships they are offering, through Sedona parks and Rec Department. The due date for those applications is 5/15/24. More info on that opportunity is available at Summer Camp Scholarships | Rotary Club of Sedona Village .
About Rotary Club of Sedona Village:
The Rotary Club of Sedona Village is part of Rotary International, a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who come together to make positive, lasting change in communities at home and abroad. The club is committed to service above self and strives to make a difference through various local and international projects.
The Peoria North Rotary Club has awarded educational scholarships to two graduating Peoria Unified School District high school students.
Isabella Perry and Leah Bucher each received a $2,000 George and Willi Wheeler Scholarship during a recent club meeting. Ms. Perry attends Mountain Ridge High School and Ms. Bucher attends Peoria High School.
The George and Willi Wheeler Scholarship was created in 2023 and the two students are the first recipients. The scholarship is available to all students who currently attend a PUSD high school or Mountain Ridge High School.
The scholarship is named after two long-time club members: George and Willi Wheeler. George was a founding member of the Peoria North Rotary Club and a former Arizona Rotary District Governor. He passed away in 2022.
The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise. The scholarship recognizes high school students who demonstrate strong leadership skills that include opportunities to serve humanity.
The Rotary scholarship may be used for any school-related payments such as tuition, books, software and/or equipment at any accredited college, university, vocational school, or certificate program.
The Wheelers were strong supporters of education and instrumental in organizing a variety of club projects aimed at promoting literacy. The club recognizes Students of the Month at several Peoria high schools and has sponsored several book drives to benefit Peoria schools.
For the past 10 years, a signature project of the club is to purchase and distribute dictionaries to every third-grade student in the Peoria Unified School District.
“All during their dedicated careers in Rotary, the Wheelers traveled to many countries to distribute schoolbooks, administer the polio vaccine, provide computers to schools and bringing goodwill to underprivileged children,” said Steve Matthews, president of the Peoria North Rotary Club.
“Their dedication to helping children is the reason the George and Willi Scholarship was founded. It is Rotary’s desire to help as many students as possible to achieve an education and eventually hoping to eliminate poverty throughout the world.”
The club recently announced that it will award three scholarships in 2025. The application can be found at www.peorianorthrotary.net.
For additional information, email the club at peorianorthr@gmail.com.
Submitted by Dr. Honora Norton
RCSL Public Image Chair
The Rotary Club of Sun Lakes (RCSL) congratulated and presented awards to the Club’s Chandler Unified School District Teachers of the Month.   
According to RCSL Education Chair Gary Kay, the award selection is based on teacher’s total years of service in the field of education; examples of how the teacher goes above the normal requirements and enhances student education; the respect shown for the teacher by her/his peers, students, and parents; and the teacher’s involvement in extracurricular activities and service in the community.  A $500 check is awarded to the honored teacher - $200 from the RCSL, $200 from Earnhardt Automotive Center and $100 from Trust Bank.  

Miroslawa (Mirka) Stechly, World Languages Program - Spanish Department Chair at CUSD Hamilton High School, was named RCSL’s February 2024 Teacher of the Month. Mirka has over 25 years teaching experience and has taught at Hamilton for 11 years. She teaches AP Spanish at all levels, is an Honors Spanish Society sponsor and teaches French classes.  Per the school’s Administrator Richard Baniszewski, Mirka speaks more than 5 languages, has strong people skills and nurtures students and fellow teachers in an understanding way.

Chris Nguyen, Music Teacher (K-6) at CUSD Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary School, was named March 2024 Teacher of the Month.  Chris has 15 years teaching experience. Per fellow teacher Kathleen Villaorduna, Chris is a talented and dedicated music teacher who teaches all grade levels, knows, and cares for all the students.  Students know him well as he has become the heart and the soul of Hartford Elementary.    

He leads the student government’s (over 30 students) charitable and social activities; leads field trips; leads holiday programs; teaches guitar and has initiated school’s first track team. He is involved in Valley’s Musical Instrument Museum and Community College band productions.   

For more information about Rotary Club of Sun Lakes – see www.sunlakesrotary.com

Submitted by Dr. Honora Norton
Rotary Club of Sun Lakes Public Image Chair
The Rotary Club of Sun Lakes recently held its 10th Annual Rotary International Four-Way Test Speech Competition.
Six students from six different Chandler Unified School District High Schools competed.  The purpose of the 7-5-minute speech is to apply the principles of Rotary International’s Four-Way Test to a current ethical issue. The Four Way Test addresses:
  • Is it the TRUTH? 
  • Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  • Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Judges at the event included Leo Schlueter, CUSD Elementary Schools West Region; Dr. Craig Gilbert, CUSD associate superintendent for Pre-K-12 Educational Services; Frank Narducci, CUSD superintendent of schools; Kevin Pitts, Rotary District 5495 Governor; and Dan Serrano, CUSD executive director of Secondary Education/High Schools. 
RCSL Rotarian Bill Schink served as contest scorekeeper.
Leela Raj-Sankar, a senior at Hamilton High School, was awarded the first-place prize of $500. Her topic was “Ethical Consumption.”
Second place, and an award of $250, went to Siyaa Poddar, a sophomore at Arizona College Prep. Her topic was “Curiosity Killed the Cat.”
Runners-up were Lucy Davis, Casteel sophomore with the topic “Eating Disorder/Culture;” Charlotte Yeh, a junior at Perry High School, with the topic “Following the Crowd;” Ryu Long, Chandler High School junior, with the topic “Think Before Speak;” and Matthew Garza, Basha junior, with topic “Student Burnout.” Each runner-up received a prize of $100.  
For more information about Rotary Club of Sun Lakes programs and membership - visit www.sunlakesrotary.com.
Masa Kito, the Rotary Club of Mesa West's Rotary Youth Exchange student from Japan, met recently with Vice Mayor Heredia for the City of Mesa. 
Masa presented Vice Mayor Heredia the flag of Toyama Mirai Rotary Club in Japan.  Masa informed him on Rotary Youth Exchange and how the Rotary Program develops our youth to become good global citizens.
Attending the presentation was Colleen Coons, president of the Mesa West Rotary Club.

Submitted by Max E Rumbaugh, Jr
Past President, Scottsdale Rotary
Essay Contest Chair

Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent of Schools and Scottsdale Rotary Club Honorary Member Dr. Scott Menzel announced the winners of the third Interact Club of Coronado High School and Rotary Club of Scottsdale essay contest on Tuesday, January 16, 2024. 

This year’s theme was “What Education Means to Me.” 

Fifty-four high school students shared their points of view on the value of education to them. This topic is especially important due to lower nationwide student performances over the past five years and the drop in regular student attendance in schools.

Initial judging of the essays was conducted by members of the Rotary Club of Scottsdale. They selected the 11 essays as the finalist for the contest. This topic on education was selected because it is one of Rotary’s areas of focus on around the world. Distinguished leaders in Scottsdale and authors with known reputations made the final selection of this year’s winners.

The students recognized by Dr. Menzel were Joel Garcia, first place; Julissa Luviano Olivares, second place; Brandon Sola, third place. Honorable mention awards were presented to Lilliana Minor, Emili Gonzalez Cabrera, and Nicole Galvan Ayon. Award winners each received a gift card from the Scottsdale Rotary Club Foundation. 

In addition, Dr. Menzel provided certificates of recognition to the other five finalists: Leslie Castrejon-Bahena, Kailyn Holsey, Angel Castanda, Kimberly Lopez Carranza, and Emmanuel Silva Orozco.

The students, through their essays, affirmed their beliefs that an education is important for a good life. In doing so, students identified many forms of education that have been valuable to them.

One author describes how her high school teachers provided support and encouragement. It was her high school teachers who transformed her opinion that "education was my enemy" in her early school years, to educational success and a positive attitude about herself in high school.

Another student discovered that vocational education was of immediate value to her and plans for continued education in a trade school degree followed by university studies to further assure her future successes. 

A third author attributes his family with the most important education he has received so far. It has been his family that instilled motivation, moral values, and ethics in him.

Family had a different educational influence in another essay. This author was unmotivated and unenthusiastic. It was her family that encouraged her to do better than they and to become the first in her family to achieve a high school diploma.

A counselor is the focus of another student. It was his counselor who introduced him to a website on career opportunities available for young people’s future. His resulting career choice has motivated him to pursue education towards that end.

Two students noted the ability of people to educate themselves was the most valuable trait humans possess. One is always “having her head in books.” Through reading, she learned “lessons woven within the splashes of ink that really mattered.” 

Another noted that during COVID, she decided to self-educate herself on nutrition. This motivated her to enthusiastically pursue her education in a related field. 

Finally, one author summarizes the importance of education by noting that ever since his “first steps in the preschool classroom, education has given me opportunities to meet friends, gain valuable skills, and have the chance to discover what I like and don’t like.”

Also participating in the award ceremony were Coronado Principal Amy Palatucci, Scottsdale Rotary Club President Gretchen Kinder, Rotarian Vibha Pradhan, English Teacher Dr. Jo Markette, and Interact Club Teacher Sponsor Serenity Ruiz.

Essay Program Chair and Rotarian Max Rumbaugh, noted that, “Many students (and parents) are struggling with a lack of understanding of the value of education. These essays provide examples of broad educational sources, personal insights, and peer expressions of the value of education for a better life.” 

District 5495 is sponsoring its third year of Jr. RYLA at Camp at Camp Wamatochick in Prescott, AZ. After many years of great impact at the high school level Jr. RYLA was started to create leaders at a younger age for even greater impact. The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Camp exists to aspire youth to become exceptional leaders in our communities committed to the ideals of the Four Way Test.
The target audience for Jr. RYLA is students have completed 6th through 8th grades in the Summer.
The establishment of the Jr Interact clubs within the district has prepared delegates for this camp. As the leaders of the future, they learn to understand themselves, their strengths, and opportunities for growth. The theme is “Discovering your Why” leads to sessions on role models, personalities, conflict resolution, emphasizing the Four Way Test as a model for personal interactions. Interactive sessions mixed with physical activities keep these young delegates engaged. They are led by Sr. High Interact and Rotaract leaders as well as Rotarians.
The Jr. RYLA Camp needs support in two major ways:
  1. Recommendations for Delegates for the 2024 camp from your Middle Schools. If you have any connections to this age group, please send them to this website: https://www.ryla5495wamatochick.org/
  2. Sponsorship for delegates by your Rotary Club: It costs $350 to sponsor one delegate for the Camp. Below you will find two testimonials from Rotary Leaders about this sponsorship. Many Rotary Clubs have also assisted with a Founders Sponsorship at $2,500. Please reach out to your club to find out if a sponsorship has been designated or if it is still possible this year. If not this year, then consider it part of your next year funding.
By Colleen Malany, President
Goodyear Pebble Creek Rotary Club
Just as RYLA is, JrRYLA can be a life-changing experience for the participants.  There’s a lot of “good stuff” that goes on during the weekend, from the education to the fun to the bonding.  All important life lessons.
Last year Rotary Club of Goodyear PebbleCreek sponsored five students from Avondale Middle School participants.  This year, GYPC Rotary Club budgeted for 8 students ($350 pp) enabling students from AMS as well as Copper Trails to attend this coming June of 2024. 
What is the follow up?  Now that there is a substantial number of students in each of the two schools who have participated in Jr RYLA, Interact Clubs can be launched.  Advisors have been identified and the administration in each school is endorsing the start up of the clubs.  The principles and objectives of Jr RYLA can be transformed and reinforced into an on-going, sustainable program throughout the school year.  Everything they do is geared toward “Finding Your Why”, the focus of the curriculum.
The GYPC Club always looks forward to these students, and now, their Interact advisors’ presentation at one of our meetings about the impact of the weekend, their impressions of what their takeaway was, and how they will use the information they learned at Jr RYLA. 
Submitted by: Dr. Honora Norton, RCSL Public Image Chair
The Rotary Club of Sun Lakes (RCSL) congratulated and presented awards to the Club's Chandler Unified School District Teachers of the Month.
According to RCSL Education Chair Gary Kay, the award selection is based on teacher's total years of service in the field of education; examples of how the teacher goes above the normal requirements and enhances student education; the respect shown for the teacher by her/his peers, students, and parents; and the teacher's involvement in extracurricular activities and service in the community. 
A $500 check is awarded to the honored teacher - $200 from the RCSL, $200 from Earnhardt Automotive Center and $100 from Trust Bank. 
Christina Pjura, 2nd Grade Teacher at CUSD Chandler Traditional Academy -Independence Campus, was named RCSL's December 2023 Teacher of the Month. Christina, who has 15 years teaching experience, earned her bachelor's degree in education and psychology from The College of New Jersey and is certified in both elementary education and middle grade mathematics. Christina's education philosophy is believing learning should be fun, exploratory, and collaborative. She tries her best to create an engaging environment for her students by each day trying to be better than the day before, to instill that desire in her students as well.
Dr. Bonnie Flores, Honors Geometry/Honors Algebra 1 Teacher at CUSD Bogle Junior High School, was named January 2024 Teacher of the Month.  Dr. Flores, who has 25 years teaching experience, earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Florida and continued at UF to complete my M.Eds. in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in both secondary school math and science. In 2012, she graduated from Nova Southeastern University with her Doctorate in Education, specializing in both Educational Technology and Distance Education, as well as Modern Learning Theory. 
Dr. Flores's education philosophy is to make a positive growing experiences by working as a team, teacher-child-parent. Communication, consistency, and positive
reinforcement are keys to a child's success, She believes a teacher's role is to guide, facilitate, engage, and entice the students' search for knowledge, as they learn to find answers to their questions, and get down to the GRIT of it!