Employees of the Year

District Honors Educators and Employees of the Year
Posted on 04/27/2022
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Adrienne Wiggins, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and ELA (English Language Arts) Coach at Empire Elementary School, was honored last night as the Carson City School District’s Educator of the Year, at the Tuesday, April 26, School Board Meeting and annual event. Additionally, Kerri Finn, School Nurse - Clinical Aide at Pioneer Academy, was recognized as the Education Support Professional (ESP) Employee of the Year, and Jason Zona, principal at Pioneer Academy, was recognized as the district’s Administrator of the Year.

Wiggins and Finn were selected from 25 site winners including 11 teachers and 14 ESP employees who were selected from peers and administrators from various sites and schools within the district. The Administrator of the Year was selected from nominations from 27 school administrators. Each candidate endured a series of strenuous interview questions from a panel of comprehensive judges. Upon conclusion of those interviews, the panel then made the difficult decision of selecting “one” ESP employee of the year, “one” educator of the year and “one” administrator of the year.

All ESP Employees and Educators of the Year winners recognized and honored (by their last name alphabetically) last night include:

  • Carolyn Aikins, Special Ed Paraprofessional II for Student Support Services
  • Rebecca Allen, English Teacher and GATE Coordinator at Pioneer Academy
  • Rick Bailey, Substitute Bus Driver for Transportation
  • Brandon Berry, Groundskeeper for Operations
  • Denise Bruns, Cafeteria Manager at Eagle Valley Middle School
  • Shiree Carter, Cafeteria Manager at Fritsch Elementary School
  • Kara Ferrin, Photography Teacher at Carson High School
  • Kerri Finn, School Nurse - Clinical Aide at Pioneer Academy
  • Jessica Greener, Grants Supervisor for the District Office
  • Amelia Henrie, Second Grade Teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School
  • Robert Hostler, Technology Teacher at Carson Middle School
  • Susan Ikehara, Library Media Technician at Mark Twain Elementary School
  • Colleen Krahn, Library Media Technician at Bordewich Bray Elementary School
  • Lorretta Marcin, Kindergarten Paraprofessional at Empire Elementary School
  • Celida Montes, Custodian AT Carson High School
  • LeAnn Morris, Ph.D., Technology Integration Specialist with Student Support Services
  • Toni Nielsen, Fourth Grade Teacher and Site Technology Coordinator at Seeliger Elementary School
  • Brenda Osborne, Special Ed Paraprofessional II (1:1) at Carson Middle School
  • Jennifer Poirier, Speech Language Pathologist at Fremont Elementary School
  • Lana Rauch, School Nurse - Clinical Procedure Nurse at Seeliger Elementary School
  • Shannon Segale, Administrative Assistant II at Fremont Elementary School
  • Greg Spriggs, Sixth Grade English Teacher and English Department Chair at Eagle Valley Middle School
  • Katrina Trautwein, Fourth Grade Teacher at Bordewich Bray Elementary School
  • Kristyanne Wertz, First Grade Teacher Fritsch Elementary School
  • Adrienne Wiggins, STEM Coach at Empire Elementary School
  • Jason Zona, Principal at Pioneer Academy

"Each of these individuals regularly inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, and have earned the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues,” said Richard Stokes, superintendent for the Carson City School District. “Great teachers and employees are the core of a great educational system. They change the lives of individual students, daily. These winners are not only wonderful representatives for our school district, but they also make profound differences in our community each day.”

Mrs. Adrienne Wiggins joined Empire Elementary School 10 years ago and brought with her vision, commitment and passion to elevate the school and its students. She is particularly proud of the shift she has helped make at Empire where it recently met the requirements to be designated as an official Governor’s STEM School. That designation came based on national best practices for integrating STEM into daily classroom instruction. Along the way, Mrs. Wiggins has been a classroom teacher, Math Instructional Coach and w the school’s esteemed STEM instructional coach.

One thing that really stood out during her phone interview for Educator of the Year was one statement “Activity before Content.” She said “As teachers, we need to be engaging with our students, so they see a purpose in what we are teaching them. Learning needs to be hands-on and relevant. We need to see opportunities and find real-world applications in what we teach.”

In her letter of application, which all individuals submit prior to the interviews, Wiggins shared that she went from being a failing student in high school, who missed more than 40 days, to a 4.0 student with perfect attendance. “Clearly there was one teacher who made a lasting impression on me, who knew my potential and who made sure that I was more than aware of my potential as well,” she wrote. Wiggins learned that year what a difference a teacher can make in the lives of students, and she continues to emphasize that same passion with the students she teaches.

Some other things that stood out to the judges during her interview was when Wiggins said “Education cannot remain stagnant. We are teachers. We need to digest what we are doing and assess whether it is working.” She went on to say “I went into this career wanting to be a change maker. I am a life-long learner. I want to make a bigger impact with people and make a difference, just like that teacher in high school made for me. This profession is too important. It is too important for teachers to miss that, to not stay in teaching or for students to not consider going into teaching. We need more teachers. We need to keep good teachers. We need to keep learning and growing and perfecting our craft.”

In addition to last night’s award, as the District Educator of the Year, Mrs. Wiggins will also have the opportunity to compete statewide for Nevada Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Kerri Finn is a product of the Carson City School District and attended Fritsch Elementary School, Carson Jr. High School and graduated from Carson High School. She has a passion for supporting her fellow coworkers and serving as the President of the Carson Education Support Association (CESA). She can often be found rallying in front of the state Legislature building speaking to state officials about making education a priority in Nevada and increasing funding for all school districts in the state.

She is always thinking about everybody else. It’s just in her nature to care for others, which may be part of the reason why she chose healthcare as a profession. What stood out during her interviews was she considers the big picture in various cases and considers how things will impact or affect paraprofessionals, custodians, office assistants, etc. When asked why her co-workers chose her, she said it likely had a lot to do with the pandemic. Sometimes she was visiting 2-3 sites a day, and for a nurse or healthcare professional, that’s hard. But the judging panel also believed that people just like her.

Finn is always triumphing for the benefit of those unheard or in many people’s minds unnoticed. But she also does some amazing things for the students. She has a good sense of humor, but much of what she deals with on a regular basis is not so funny. She has students who are experiencing very adult-type situations, and she is there for them when others may not find the time to care. Her burden is often heavy to bear. But in the end, the biggest takeaway from her interview was she said she wants every student to know that she cares and that they matter.

Mr. Jason Zona is a leader who foster an educational environment where students can learn and succeed. Speakers mentioned previously during the awards ceremony that some students don’t always learn on the same day nor in the same way. Mr. Zona has worked tirelessly to change the image and overall impression of his school site. He has made huge strides in changing the stigma of being pinned as a credit-recovery school. He has made Pioneer Academy a successful instructional institution that caters to the needs of students. Pioneer Academy has become a destination school and is now sought out by parents and students alike as a desired alternative to a traditional high school. Mr. Zona is a fine leader with new and innovative ideas that other administrators should take notice of.