Carefree Cares Excellence Awards

  • Twice per school year the Town of Carefree and CCUSD® recognize one outstanding CCUSD staff member from each school or department based on exemplary service to our schools and community. This person will be recognized at the Carefree Town Council meeting, presented a special "Carefree Cares" pin and a brief narrative will be read for the honoree. CCUSD will also recognize the winners at a corresponding quarterly Governing Board meeting honoring their contributions to CCUSD and our community. Selections come from each site/department submitted by the Principals and Directors.  

    The recognition will be posted on social media and on District communications.

    As always, family and staff members are welcome to attend the meetings and show support for their colleagues, district, and community.


  • Congratulations to our October 2021 Carefree Cares Excellence Award Recipients

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  • Pictured Front Row (left to right): Haley Arnold (STMS), Danielle Michalizysen (DSA), Lisa Tibbits (DWES), Lindy Murillo (LMES), Allison Zilka (CSHS).  Not pictured: Ayako Holtz (BMES), Randee Huffer (HTES).

    Pictured Back Row (left to right): Vince D'Aliesio (Carefree Town Councilmember), Cheryl Kroyer (Carefree Town Councilmember), Les Peterson (Carefree Mayor), Dr. Cort Monroe (CCUSD Superintendent)

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  • Haley Arnold, Sonoran Trails Middle School

    As a fairly new teacher, Haley Arnold has taken on many responsibilities on our campus to help guide and lead our future. She is the advisor for Student Council, as well as co-advisor for our Drama club, and is a valuable member of our teacher leadership team. She spends an exorbitant amount of her personal time planning positive experiences for our students as well as her colleagues. She loves to engage kids in having fun while learning and demonstrates that, from the adult perspective, it is ok to be a kid. She has a smile on her face always and believes and knows how wonderful our community and schools are for our students.

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  • Ayako Holtz, Black Mountain Elementary School

    Mrs. Holtz is new to BMES this year, traveling hundreds of miles from CA just before the start of school. She has taken on a new district, major changes to special education in our district, a huge caseload, and a crazy principal. In the short time that she has been here, she has shown great dedication and work ethic, showing our students what a truly caring teacher looks like. While she traveled far to get here, I have no doubt that she will take our students and our school farther than ever before. We are blessed to have her at BMES!

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  • Randee Huffer, Horseshoe Trails Elementary School

    Randee has been part of our Horseshoe Trails family since the very first day the school opened 17 years ago. She wears so many different hats on campus and impacts so many different people including students and teachers. She's manages our teacher workroom, monitors lunch, serves as a recess aide, and is our crossing guard in the morning. She knows our students by name and is instrumental in supporting teachers' classrooms by making copies, laminating and binding different projects, and completing other odd jobs for student projects that make learning fun. She's a problem solver, a team player and, most importantly, she LOVES our Stallion students and they love her back.

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  • Danielle Michalizysen, Desert Sun Academy

    Danielle is a young but passionate educator who has shown so much growth over the past 5 years she has taught at DSA. Her positive and "can do" attitude is an inspiration to me and many of her colleagues. She builds great relationships with her students and parents which allows her to personalize and maximize their learning. Additionally, she is head of our Yearbook club and always produces a great product to help our families reflect on the year that was for a lifetime. Danielle is so deserving of this award and we thank her for her consistent dedication to Desert Sun Academy and the CCUSD community!

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  • Melinda Murillo, Lone Mountain Elementary School

    Lindy has been such a blessing to our campus this year. She has stepped into the new position of the reading specialist and has worked tirelessly to get the materials and support to the teachers and students. She has brought Gabriel's Angels back to our campus. This program allows students to gain confidence as readers as they practice their reading skills with a therapy dog. She is always willing to pitch in and help out wherever and whenever. Lone Mountain is a happier and better place because of Lindy Murillo.

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  • Lisa Tibbits, Desert Willow Elementary School

    Ms. Tibbits has been a dedicated CCUSD teacher for the past 33 years and since 2010 she has taught 2nd grade on the English side of the Spanish Immersion. She tirelessly collaborates with all school and community members to ensure her students experience success in the classroom. In her role as a CCEA representative, she is approachable and empathetic to the needs of the teachers and ensures teachers voices are heard with school and district leadership. Ms. Tibbits volunteers her time to open the school on weekends for teachers, tutor students who need extra support, and helps boost staff morale by opening her home for staff gatherings. We are so lucky to have Ms. Tibbits on our DWES staff!

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  • Allison Zilka, Cactus Shadows High School

    Allison spends countless hours working with StuCo to get events such as Homecoming, First Friday’s, Prom and many other spirit building activities planned for our students. Allison has been a valued member of CCUSD for nearly 19 years and continues to be a leader in our community. Shown through her hard work and dedication to students, staff and the community she is truly a picture of what it means to be a Falcon.

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Congratulations to Our 2nd Quarter 2019-2020 Recipients

  • Lori Drube, Black Mountain Elementary School

    We are thrilled to recommend Lori Drube, Black Mountain Elementary School Resource teacher, as the recipient of the 2nd Quarter Carefree Cares Excellence Award. New to BMES this year, Lori has already made an enormous impact on everyone around her. She comes to Black Mountain with a tremendous skill set formed from many years of education teaching, and a continuous drive...

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  • Ashley Fauss, Sonoran Trails Middle School

    Ashley exemplifies what it means to be dedicated to your school and your students. As a teacher, Ashley spends her days opening doors for students to the wonders of science while getting them to think critically. After school, Ashley transforms into various characters to provide STMS students with opportunities to shine: you might find her running our...

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  • Liz Kramer, Lone Mountain Elementary School

    Liz Kramer is a legend at Lone Mountain. She inspires her students, colleagues, and families to learn more and be their best selves. Mrs. Kramer quite possibly has the most inviting and cozy classroom around, but the decorations are just symbolic of the deep care she brings to her classroom. She creates a classroom environment...

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  • Lijia Luo, Horseshoe Trails Elementary School

    Lijia Lu is a ROCKSTAR 1st grade Chinese immersion teacher at Horseshoe Trails. She’s only in her second year of teaching after graduating from Arizona State University and you would never know it. Her work ethic and dedication to our students in her teaching is second to none. She works tirelessly...

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  • Cindy Minor, Desert Willow Elementary School

    Cindy Miner is hands-down the kindest, most helpful teacher to her students and colleagues. She inspires her students to be active participants and creative thinkers. She also instills a love of reading by showcasing great authors and books to her students...

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  • John Trenton, Cactus Shadows High School

    This is John’s second year at Cactus Shadows High School but he has already made a big impact! John teaches French 5/6 and 7/8; talk about creating an engaging classroom. John embodies the district focus of teaching proficiency in world language. John’s students are always talking, writing...

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  • Ronda Walton, Desert Sun Academy

    DSA is fortunate to have many staff members deserving of recognition but when asked to select one individual, Ronda Walton stands out. Principal Bagwell approached Ronda two years ago to be a teammate to DSA’s French Immersion teacher for Kindergarten and 1st grade. In a very short time, both of her teammates left, which posed a great challenge but Ronda has stepped up as a leader...

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Congratulations to Our 3rd Quarter 2019-2020 Recipients

  • Suzanne Allen, Horseshoe Trails Elementary School

    Suzanne Allen is in her fourth year of teaching science and social studies to 6th-grade students at Horseshoe Trails. Suzanne takes a great deal of pride in fostering and promoting a student-centered learning environment. Through project-based learning and hands-on, tactile experiences in her Innovation Lab that includes a 3D printer, STEM bins, microscopes, and many other tools, Mrs. Allen provides empowering and engaging learning opportunities...

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  • Haley Arnold, Sonoran Trails Middle School

    Haley Arnold exemplifies the characteristics of excellence everyone would want their child to have in a teacher. As a Language Arts teacher, Haley goes well beyond the generic grammar, reading and writing skills and actually pushes her students to think critically about what they read and write - she helps them be able to both question and support ideas. Beyond the classroom, Haley launched the first-ever “success coach” program where peers mentor students to help them...

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  • Trish Doran, Desert Willow Elementary School

    Trish Doran is simply amazing! Mrs. Doran is constantly coming up with new and creative methods to teach and engage even the most reluctant students. She is referred to as the “Idea Machine”. Trish genuinely cares about the subject she teaches…her passion is evident the moment you step into her classroom. Mrs. Doran is quick to volunteer to help anyone who asks. She is open to new ideas, feedback, opportunities...you name it! She sets a very high standard and...

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  • Jim Marando, Cactus Shadows High School

    When selecting a teacher who exemplifies leadership, serves as a positive role model for students, staff and community, inspires others, and always represents the District and community in a positive and professional manner, Cactus Shadows High School needs to look no further than Jim Marando. Jim has been at Cactus Shadows High School for twenty years. When looking for volunteers to pilot...

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  • Jennifer Parks, Black Mountain Elementary School

    I am thrilled to recommend Jennifer Parks, Black Mountain Elementary School Special Education Teacher, as the recipient of the Carefree Cares Excellence Award. Mrs. Parks works with students in the Positive Learning Center at BMES and has definitely proved that it is the quality of person that makes the difference. She has held many roles at BMES, from parent...

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  • Kristine Paul, Desert Sun Academy

    DSA has many qualified teachers who fulfill the requirements for the Carefree Cares Excellence Award, however, one teacher in particular checks every box. Kristine Paul has been a pillar of consistency at Desert Sun. For many years she has served our community as our kindergarten teacher. Her class is full of positive, engaged learners who strive to show Mrs. Paul what they can do and how well they can do it! You will also find Tweety Bird firing you up for a day of...

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  • Brian Rinderknecht, Lone Mountain Elementary School

    Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." Brian Rinderknecht was born achieving great things because of his enthusiasm for life, which has carried over into the classroom. He enthusiastically volunteers for committees, clubs, and extra responsibilities because of his talents, but also because he knows our students deserve his energy and support. His class is typically alive with the enthusiasm of 5th graders asking difficult questions,..

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Congratulations to Our 1st Semester 2020-2021 Recipients

  • Skye Cooper, Desert Willow Elementary School

    Miss Cooper works in Desert Willow Elementary School in our K-4 resource room and is vital to our school community. This year, she started the year with very little flexibility in her schedule and still found a creative way to build a schedule to meet the various needs of students in many different classrooms that keeps them physically distant and engaged in their learning. She has mentored several different para educators to create a classroom that is...

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  • Lori DiCicco, Cactus Shadows High School

    Lori is the glue that holds the special education department together. She is doing the duties that would be done in normal circumstances by three other people. She supports all of the Cactus Shadows special education teachers and support staff, helping in the classroom, with IEP compliance, setting up services and any other of a number of items to ensure the special education students receive the best possible service. What is also amazing is she does all of this with a smile and...

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  • Alisa Gould, Horseshoe Trails Elementary School

    Alisa Gould, through her leadership and service, has been indispensable this year for our Horseshoe Trails students, staff, and larger school community. Over the summer and into the fall, she supported teachers with their Canvas pages- providing outstanding professional development that aided our efforts greatly in providing dynamic learning opportunities for students. Once we transitioned to in-person learning, she covered classrooms for ill and quarantined staff...

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  • Kellie Hale, Lone Mountain Elementary School

    Kellie Hale lives by the mantra that Frank Serafini once said: "There is no such thing as a child who hates to read. There are only children who have not found the right book." Mrs. Hale teaches 5th grade English Language Arts and inspires students to love reading and to love learning. She always knows how to get just the right book into a student's hands. She models for them what it means to learn and to grow, and blows up their beliefs...

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  • Lori Johnston, Desert Sun Academy

    Lori defines the word teammate. While not only a great teacher and interventionist, Lori builds great relationships with both the students and adults she works with. This year especially, whenever a need arises we can count on her and she always responds with a smile and willingness to do any task needed. Her smile is infectious and one cannot pass by her without sharing a smile of their own. She is thoughtful, kind and...

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  • Annette McQuain, Sonoran Trails Middle School

    Annette exemplifies what it means to be dedicated to your school and your students. As our nurse’s assistant during our current pandemic, she guides staff, families and students to increase their awareness of and maneuver through COVID-19. To say that her job is different and more difficult than ever before would be the understatement of the decade. She has put into practice effective tracking systems and answers the concerns of...

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  • Antonella Nechtman, Black Mountain Elementary School

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Congratulations to Our 4th Quarter 2019-2020 Recipients

  • Andrew Cupo, Cactus Shadows High School

    Andrew Cupo is Cactus Shadows High School Theater teacher and an Alumni of Cactus Shadows High School. Andrew is impressive in the classroom, always creating engaging lessons for his students. When dropping by his classes you never quite know what you are going to see, but you know it will be entertaining and informative. Andrew also puts on Broadway-quality theater productions. Andrew has gone above and beyond this year, first taking on...

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  • Shannon Griffith, Sonoran Trails Middle School

    Shannon Griffith is one of the most talented and respected educators here at Sonoran Trails Middle School as well as the entire Cave Creek Unified School District. Her dedication to her craft is matched by her passion for both her content and her students. She is a quick study and brave enough to experiment with new ideas that she believes could positively impact her students. She follows through by tracking results in order to help her students reach...

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  • Katherine Herr, Lone Mountain Elementary School

    Katherine Herr has been pushing the envelope for quite some time by including flexible learning options in her classroom with technology, seating arrangements, and scheduling. With the transition to virtual schooling during the COVID 19 pandemic, Katherine has been a bright spot at Lone Mountain. Not only did she create high-quality, engaging, and targeted lessons for her own students, but she carried so many other...

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  • Christine Huguley, Desert Sun Academy

    I am proud to nominate Christine Huguley as our 4th quarter Carefree Cares representative from Desert Sun. Christine is a perfect example of a professional educator. She takes pride in establishing positive relationships with everyone she meets. She really works hard to establish a positive professional culture on our campus. Christine loves teaching and has dedicated her professional life to helping other teachers push their limits as well. She has a love for learning and...

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  • Sue Jeffers, Desert Willow Elementary School

    Education is very important to Sue. She is a really great kindergarten teacher. She goes above and beyond at DWES, and has kept the Ricky Roadrunner project alive! She writes everything, gets all the information, and has taken on what the classroom teachers used to be asked to do. She puts her heart and soul into kids. Her kinders love her. She finds ways to enrich their lives, either by helping others, planting a garden, or sharing...

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  • Madison Jones, Black Mountain Elementary School

    Madison has been a rock star at BMES ever since she joined us a few years ago. During that time, she has taken on extra responsibilities and never shied away from hard work. Her maturity and dedication help her to stand out as a leader among teachers, but her humility keeps her grounded and connected to her peers. Madison joined the CCUSD Tech Cadre this year and has definitely earned this recognition through her hard work. When we learned that all Arizona schools...

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  • Kathy Schutza, Horseshoe Trails Elementary School

    Kathy Schutza, a 5th-grade math teacher at Horseshoe Trails, is an incredible asset and advocate for our school and district. She's highly effective as an educator creating dynamic and engaging lessons but what truly makes Kathy stand out from the crowd is her ability to make students feel successful and valued in her classroom. She builds great rapport with kids and their families and is always very responsive to their needs, which is very important in...

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Congratulations to Our 1st Quarter 2019-2020 Recipients

  • Jessie Dizdarevic, Horseshoe Trails Elementary School

    Jessie is one of the very best teachers we have on our campus at Horseshoe Trails. For the pas seven years, Jessie has taught kindergarten but this year she's taken on a whole new challenge as the facilitator of learning in a kindergarten/1st grade combo class that incorporates an entire STEAM block with both grade levels. She provides personal learning stations and intensive...

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  • Devin Galloway-Parmeley, Black Mountain Elementary School

    Mrs. Parmeley began at BMES years ago as a special education teacher. I was blown away by her skills in such a demanding position -- always poised in meetings, extremely organized, and absolutely doing whatever she could do for the kids. When Devin moved into the general education classroom, we gained an amazing Math teacher and leader with...

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  • Don Larson, Sonoran Trails Middle School

    Don exemplifies what it means to e dedicated to your school and your students. Rather than ever wait to be asked to lend a hand, Don just jumps right to work. That work might look like trimming an overgrown tree; it might look like clearing a cross country path; it might look like pulling a student aside who needs help and mentoring them; it might look like leading...

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  • Megan Linch, Desert Sun Academy

    In addition to her teaching position, Megan has shown passion and dedication to ensure that DSA continues to be the great place it is. Anytime there is a need, she will be the first one to volunteer her time to help out: Honor Society, Leadership Team, Personalized Learning Council Representative and DSA's Tech Cadre are only a few of the extra duties she has taken on. Her passion and drive...

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  • Sydney Myers-Lenz, Lone Mountain Elementary School

    Sydney has been a champion for students, families, and teacher at LMES for many years, but this year she has stepped up during dificult transitions to provide a calm and stable presence. She has trained new staff members, estrablished new procedure and systems to organize everyone, learned a new position, and picked up missing pieces. She has done all of these things with a smile and...

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  • Kristina Pancoast, Desert Willow Elementary School

    Kristine brings joy, fun, learning and independence to our first graders. Kristina is a fabulous first grade teacher. She cares and loves each and EVERY one of her students. She is at school every night until 8:00 or 9:00 pm working to ensure she is doing all she can for each child. My (now adult) sons had her for first grade. My 2 youngest were adopted...

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  • Jennifer Reisener, Cactus Shadows High School

    Jennnifer Reisener is an outstanding Chemistry teacher. Jennifer maintains high rigor and expectations of her students. Furthermore, she provides the apprpriate scaffolding to ensure that they are successful. Jennifer is also a master at creating engaging lessons. In addition to her outstanding work in the classroom, Jennifer is also a leader at CSHS. Jennifer serves as...

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