Archive for the ‘Teachers’ Category

By Mya Palomino
Cougar News Blog

     Social studies teachers have made a big leap in teaching Cactus Canyon students. Seventh-grade social studies teachers now teach both seventh and eighth grade.
     Due to budget cuts, seventh grade teachers Jason Miller and Lindy Andresen now teach both grades, in one day. Mr. Miller said he enjoys the opportunity to see a more students on a daily basis.
     “Teaching both grades allows me to academically interact with a broader spectrum of the CCJH student community,” said Jason Miller.
     The schedule change for teachers can be a little bit of a struggle sometimes. Some teachers had to give up their prep-hour to teach their classes. More preparation time is also needed in order to have your materials and lesson plans ready.
     “More preparation time is required for multiple grade levels,” said Miller. “It is challenging, but in the best possible way.”
     Although teaching different grades can be hard, it’s beneficial at times. Throughout the day, both Mr. Miller and Mr. Andresen are teaching different class periods, giving them a different learning process.
     “It’s always beneficial to teach and learn about different historical periods,” said Mr. Miller.

Art teacher Paige Reesor shows her work at shows all over the Phoenix area. (Photo from Ms. Reesor)

Art teacher Paige Reesor shows her work at shows all over the Phoenix area. (Photo from Ms. Reesor)

By Bailey Tower
Cougar News Blog

     At Cactus Canyon, several teachers have unique abilities and art teacher Paige Reesor is one of them. Reesor participates in art shows frequently and she still is working on new techniques to become an even better artist.
     She usually has one to two art shows per-month. Sometimes the shows last for a whole month or sometimes it is a one day event like live painting for concerts or festivals.
     Reesor has art shows and festivals lined up for the next few months.
     Reesor, who said she has wanted to be an artist since she was 5, likes challenging herself and using intense colors.
     “I like portraits the most. I like the challenge of trying to capture someone’s face. I also love experimenting with bright colors,” said Reesor. “I am still trying be a great artist. Always trying and practicing.”
     Reesor is even able to sell her paintings and drawings her shows and earns a good amount of money when she sells her paintings.
     “Each piece is about a few hundred dollars and it’s a nice extra income. I can’t live off of it yet, but it is nice to pay some bills with it,” said Reesor.
     Reesor wants to influence her students to find inspiration in art and hopes being a working artist helps with that.
     “I believe my students see how art can be used in many different career paths. I hope my students find some form of inspiration for themselves,” Reesor said. “All I do is just try to get my art out in the public eye, and I usually get a positive response back.”

Marla award

By Natalie Delintt
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s Marla Aehlert won an award for Excellence in Education because a former student nominated her on 99.9 KEZ radio.
     Yasinya Peterson, one of Aehlert’s former students, nominated her for the award. She won for the month of November 2015 and received a plaque that has her name and an apple on it, two certificates, and a check for $99.
     “The award made me feel fantastic,” said Aehlert. “I felt very loved.”
     KEZ’s Marty Manning came to CCJH to surprise Aehlert with Courtney Castelhano and Peterson in tow. The trio gave Aehlert her prizes while students took videos and pictures to capture the moment.
     “They came to my room on Monday, Nov. 9, and surprised me in the middle of fourth hour,” said Aehlert.
     Peterson chose to nominate Aehlert because she had her as her math teacher in third grade and again in seventh grade. She wanted Aehlert to know the difference she has made in her’s and other’s lives.
     “I nominated her because she is a devoted teacher. She always does her best to help her students and she’s always got a smile on her face that you can’t help but smile back at,” said Peterson.
     Peterson nominated Aehlert when she heard on the radio that a student could nominate a teacher they’ve had and then she went on a website to submit her.
     Though Peterson told Aehlert she had nominated her, Aehlert didn’t think she would actually win. So, the surprise of people coming in her room in the middle of fourth hour one day really was a surprise.
     “When Yasinya told me that she had nominated me, I thought that was super sweet of her to do, and I told her that,”said Aehlert. “It never crossed my mind that they would actually choose me to win the award.”

Mr. Leal visits ComicCon

Posted: October 1, 2015 in Teachers

By Kendra Litt
Cougar News Blog

     Over the summer, eighth grade teacher John Leal visited ComicCon in San Diego, California. Mr. Leal is known for his love of superheroes, particularly the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and often shares his likes with his classes.
     Mr. Leal travelled to San Diego and went to the annual ComicCon with his fiance and a few friends. This experience helped him try out new things that he hasn’t tried on previous visits.
     “Every time I go to San Diego ComicCon, I always do something I didn’t do before,” said Mr. Leal.
     Knowing what interests teachers outside of school can help students relate to their instructors more in the classroom.
     “It makes me feel a little different about Mr. Leal because now we can be more understanding about what his interests are and what he enjoys,“ said eighth grader Lauren Powell.

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By Abriann Rios Pineda
Cougar News Blog

      Teachers work really hard at Cactus Canyon Junior High. Even after the school day is over they sometimes have to stay after school to grade homework, projects, and school work.
      Cactus Canyon staff member Jodi Rodgers came up with the idea of having a little Friday party to show teacher appreciation. They have a party about twice a month for all the teachers and staff. All of their parties are privately funded from the kindness of a couple of staff members who attend the parties.
      “The teachers and staff of this school are some of the most amazing people to work with,” said Rodgers. “They work incredibly hard to make sure the future is as bright as it can be for our students. The least we could do is let them know how much they are appreciated.”
      Everyone is invited to the office and receives a nice treat like chips, cookies, or rice crispy treats and a glass of Coca-Cola. After, the attendees of the party are instructed to do a fun/random activity.
      There’s a different theme for every party. They have had movies, pirates, a masquerade, Thanksgiving, and Twist-and-Shout themed parties so far.
      At the Twist-and-Shout themed party, the teachers were instructed to compete against another staff member by taking an Oreo cookie and twisting it off. If their side had the most amount of cream on it, they won. The loser had to draw a phrase out of the cup and shout it out.
      At the masquerade party, the staff came up to the office and drew a name of a co-worker and received a cut-out of that person’s face to use as a mask.
      “The adults on campus rarely get to spend time together without students, and of course we have to maintain our professionalism during the school day,” said eighth grade teacher Marla Aehlert. “After a long week, it’s fun to get together and relax for a bit, and sometimes be a little silly. I really think it has helped the morale among the staff.”

By Maranda Brousseau
Cougar News Blog

A few teachers don’t only serve at Cactus Canyon Junior High but they have also served for America in previous years. Candice Wyatt, David McQuilkin, and Lindy Andresen all served numerous years in the Army.
Social studies teacher Mr. McQuilkin joined the Army infantry in 2003 and was honorably discharged in 2008. His unit, Bravo Company, served in Iraq. McQuilkin also spent time in South Korea and received the Purple Heart, a medal given to a soldier that was injured in the line of duty, during his second tour.
“I felt that I had a job to do and whatever I had to do to complete that job, I would do,” McQuilkin said. “I was in charge of a three-man team. It was my duty to get them home safe, which was my main priority. These experiences have allowed me to have a different perspective on things relating to history and the military affairs as well.”
His service gives him real-life examples and stories to share with his students during lessons.
“I like when Mr. McQuilkin shares his stories about his experience in the Army,” said eighth grader Jade Kroff. “I think it is important to know about the Army and what they do. It helps me understand more about the Army and how intense things can get over there. I am honored to have a veteran as a teacher.”
Another social studies teacher, Lindy Andresen also served. When he graduated from high school, the Vietnam War was in progress. All able-bodied young men over the age of 18 were subject to the draft. Andresen went into the Army and completed radio communications training. He then was sent to Vietnam for one year and was placed into an Army unit called the 361st Signal Battalion. Andresen had the job of setting up radio communications in the jungle and on the mountains for the Army.
Andersen was just 19 years old and was homesick and exposed to constant danger, but he now uses those experiences to guide his teaching philosophy.
“A well-trained group of people working together can accomplish great things. This also applies to teaching in many ways. I have learned to use my Army skills to better manage classrooms and work with kids, other teachers and parents,” said Andresen. “The time I spent in the Army has benefited my life and career more than any other factor. The military discipline and the responsibilities of work have helped me immensely.”
Candice Wyatt is now employed as a science teacher. Wyatt served in a unit in Phoenix. Although she did not participate in going to war, she served honorably in her unit. Her unit was called to go to Saudi Arbia but the mission got cancelled at the last minute. Wyatt served in the Army for eight years.


By Sam Collins
Cougar News Blog

Laura Hickey of Cactus Canyon Junior High has published the book What’s in the Woods and plans to write more books to come. She said she wants kids to be able to relate to the book, and that’s exactly what happened.
The teacher’s aide said she got her inspiration to write from the famous author Stephen King. She got the idea for What’s in the Woods from a dream her daughter had. She said that she still had to come up with a plot, characters, and setting, but the idea came from her daughter.
“It is about creatures that appear in the woods by a neighborhood that eat children that wear tennis shoes,” Hickey said about her book.
Hickey is in college at the moment, and plans to have her teaching degree when she is finished. She says she is very new to writing and does plan to do it again.
“I like to write when I am alone and the house is quiet,” Hickey said. “This enables me to ‘get into’ my story and I feel like I am actually there with my characters.”
Hickey’s publisher is PublishAmerica and she will find out her profit and sales in February. The company has done promotions around the world and throughout the U.S. What’s in the Woods was even being sold at the book fair held at CCJH.
“This was my first one and I have learned a lot about the process,” Hickey said. “I mainly wrote this book and submitted it just to see what would happen.”
Hickey has not written any other books yet, but says she will take what she has learned from this experience and will apply it to the next one she writes. She says she is still learning “the art” of being an author, but that it definitely takes time, research, and, above all, patience.
“Keep reading and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something,” Hickey advised. “Be brave and have faith in yourself.”

CCJH para sews AIDS quilt for GSA

Posted: December 14, 2012 in Teachers
CCJH paraprofessional Sylvia Moreland, left, and AJHS GSA adviser Melissa Mel pose with the AIDS quilt made by students in the GSA for  World AIDS Day.

CCJH paraprofessional Sylvia Moreland, left, and AJHS GSA adviser Melissa Mel pose with the AIDS quilt made by students in the GSA for World AIDS Day.

By Victoria Montiel
Cougar News Blog

In June of 1987, a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would forget. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS, and to help people understand the devastating impact of the disease.
This meeting was the beginning of the first AIDS quilt and since then different groups have been creating quilts to keep HIV and AIDS in the public eye.
This year, the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) club at Apache Junction High School tried to do the same thing and Cactus Canyon paraprofessional Sylvia Moreland volunteered to sew the quilt pieces together.
“I am a volunteer with the AJHS GSA club and I love to sew, so I chose to volunteer,” said Moreland.
The GSA club spent two days during the lunches having students write and decorate quilt strips. There are names of people who died of AIDS with their birth and death year on it, some strips have words of encouragement, while others were decorated to show support and encouragement to those with HIV or AIDS. The materials and time for the quilt were donated at no cost.
The strips were completed the first week of November, and Moreland completed the sewing in about two weeks. The quilt was displayed at AJHS on Nov. 30 in honor of World AIDS Awareness Day, which is Dec. 1.
“It took eight to 10 hours of actual sewing time, and the quilt measured 15 feet by 5 feet and contained over 300 message strips,” said Moreland.
GSA’s mission statement is to bring students together to create a safe haven and environment of acceptance. They hold weekly meetings and have frequent guest speakers. The club is trying to raise awareness that people are still contracting and dying from HIV and AIDS.
GSA has also celebrated Halloween with the children at a family homeless shelter in Phoenix. They did crafts and passed out candy, then went to Tucson and provided pumpkin pies to a Thanksgiving dinner for homeless teens. They also marched in the Lost Dutchman Day parade and in the Phoenix Pride parade last year.
The members of GSA are now spending their club time putting together stocking gifts for 50 children and 150 women at a Phoenix homeless shelter. They plan on sharing the stockings and making Christmas crafts with these children next week.
GSA is also raising funds to pay to march in the Lost Dutchman Day parade in February and to help out at the homeless shelter.

By Malorie Eager
Cougar News Blog

The first Wednesday of every month this year will be a half day for all AJUSD students so that teachers can meet for professional development.
Professional development is for teachers to train and figure out how to add Common Core standards into what they teach. Common Core is the new, nationwide standard that 46 out of the 50 states have started using, which will get students to think more.
Even though the it’s a full work day for teachers, students enjoy a little extra time off during the month.
“It’s a great idea because students get so restless during the school year,” said eighth grader Jaclyn Coffee. “With the time off I will spend lots of time with my family and friends. I have a baby niece that I adore.”
Each class on half days is about 30 minutes long, then there’s five minutes between seventh hour and lunch for announcements, so students get out at 11:20 to go home and do whatever they want.

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By Ashley Renowden
Staff writer

When you think of people with a large shoe collection, you think of girls, right? Well, physical education teacher Scott Stansberry has over 200 pairs of shoes that consist of Nikes and Jordans.
Over 200 pairs of shoes isn’t cheap and Stansberry said himself that his most expensive pair was over $1,000. Stansberry doesn’t wear half of the shoes he buys, because he collects them. His expensive shoes, the exclusive ones, he rarely wears out.
“I never wear them to school – too much of a risk to get them stepped on and there is a lot of dust out here,” said Stansberry. “I wear them when I go out with my wife or friends. I break out the exclusive ones for special occasions.”
Although he has many pairs of shoes, Stansberry has worked very hard to get them all.
As a high school student, he did his chores to get his mom to buy him shoes, sold candy on the weekends, and mowed lawns. His love for shoes started when he was just a child, and he actually began collecting in his sophomore year of high school.
“Anybody could have shoes like I do if you really want to work for them,” said Stansberry. “Think of some ways to make money instead of sitting at home and doing nothing or sitting in front of the TV.”
Stansberry has a lot of connections in the shoe industry so it makes getting the shoes a much easier process. Waiting in long lines is no longer a must for Stansberry. He used to wait in long lines for shoes, one time for over 15 hours. Often, he would wait in line for shoes he didn’t even like, but now he was better and easier ways to get his shoes.
“I have a couple of connections and fortunately do not have to wait in lines anymore,” said Stansberry. “Sometimes I do not even like the shoe that may be coming out but I know I can make money from them so I will buy a few pairs anyway.”
Stansberry buys shoes to make money from because there is an underground market for Air Jordans and certain Nikes. Many people will even pay double after stores sell out.
“They re-release shoes or ‘retro’ them and they have release dates,” said Stansberry. “Usually there is lines at the malls for them or sometimes they are limited to certain stores or online only. They limit the amount of pairs released at times.”
Stansberry doesn’t just buy one pair of shoes, but often he buys three of each. Not of every pair though, mainly just the exclusive ones.
“I buy three pairs of the exclusive ones, “ said Stansberry. “A pair for my collection, a pair to wear and a pair to make money from.”
Stansberry is a P.E. coach, and he finds that talking about his shoes is a good conversation starter. He talks to students about what type of shoes they are into, to try and get to know them better.
“It seems to be a good conversation starter,” said Stansberry. “I don’t know if they think I’m young and hip, but they seem to like my shoes. Also, I try to tell the story of when I was in middle school and how I cut yards. I worked for my shoes.”