Employee of the Month

Tolleson Union High School District bestows the Employee of the Month recognition upon employees who have exemplified the vision, mission, and values of the district. These employees serve as an inspiration to others by showing a commitment to providing excellent customer service and making a positive impact on student achievement. Honorees enjoy breakfast with the district leadership team and are awarded a commemorative gift given during a governing board meeting.


Congratulations to the Employees of the Month for February2013


Employee of the Month February 2013

Ms. Sara Contreras, Administrative Assistance, Special Services Department
Sierra Linda High School
Nominated by Ms. Leigh Ann Virgil, Special Services Department Chair, and Ms. Kristen Lorton, Special Services Consultant, Dynamic Ed.

"As the administrative assistant for Special Education Services, Sara Contreras exemplifies the vision of TUHSD of “A place where all who enter are welcome.” Sara’s excellence in customer service, communication skills, and professional demeanor is demonstrated in her ability to meet the needs of parents, students, administration, and support staff daily. In an office that can be stressful and constantly changing, Sara is quick to adapt. She constantly looks for ways to support teachers and therapists. Teachers report she helps translate all the time; she helps me make parent phone calls, etc. She sets the tone of working diligently but can balance that with a quick question about family or outside interests which maintains a feeling of warmth and camaraderie. She makes families feel comfortable when they come to meetings. Sara sets a tone of friendly efficiency.

Sara has a global knowledge of school and district systems, which is invaluable when working with such a variety of departments and positions. She is able to connect anyone who has a need, whether in or out of the department, site, or district, immediately to the right resource. No contact with our office will go for more than 24 hours without a call or e-mail.

I have watched her calm angry and frustrated parents, emotional students with all levels of disability needs, and excited teachers, all while handling a high-volume workload. She consistently meets district projects and reporting deadlines and would be my #1 choice to mentor others in her position. Sara has learned the special education software to the extent that I am completely confident in her ability to train teachers and staff in accessing student information and documentation.

There really is no task or performance objective that Sara does not consistently meet or exceed. She is the heart of our department, both emotionally and functionally. And we believe all of TUHSD is better because of her service to the district, school, and community."

When asked what three words best describe Sara, Leigh Ann and Kristen chose professional, warm, and dedicated.

Mr. Taylor Spears, Social Studies/Wellness Teacher and Athletic Coach
Sierra Linda High School
Nominated by Coach George Burgess, Social Studies Teacher; Coach John Olson, Physical Education Department Chair; and Michael Gunderson, Anatomy/Physiology Teacher

"Mr. Spears currently teaches Wellness, World History, AP World History and coaches football and baseball. He is a very motivated and dedicated teacher. Mr. Spears arrives daily to campus by 6:30 a.m. and very seldom is off campus before 7:30 p.m. He serves his students and student athletes in a way that each student or student athlete he interacts with strives to achieve for him. It is a daily occurrence for Mr. Spears to be tutoring students before school, during lunch, and after school. In addition, Coach Spears is a role model daily for students on campus, especially student athletes in his commitment to excellence. Taylor Spears volunteered his time throughout the entire winter sports season developing athletes in the weight room. It is very common for students to get their lunch and go to Mr. Spears’ room; he will have lunch with them and give them extra academic or athletic support. He is available for any student he interacts with and available at any time the student needs him.

Mr. Spears proved his dedication to creating a positive campus culture when, on Christmas Eve, he took time to open the weight room for a group of football players who wanted to work out. He provides great customer service for students and parents of Sierra Linda High School while balancing the demand of the many roles he fulfills professionally each day. Many of our school’s football players not only desire to attend college, but now expect to attend college and desire to be involved in intercollegiate sports thanks to Coach Spears and his efforts. He has made students aware of additional opportunities, contacted college coaches, and even set up meetings for our players to meet with college coaches. Coach Spears is helping our students to Dream, Believe, Strive, and Achieve on a daily basis."

George, John, and Michael chose vibrant, dedicated, and loyal as the three words that best describe Taylor.



teacher of the month