Employees of the Year

Laura Ricks, Sandra Guzzetta Named Educator and Employee of the Year, Chelise Crookshanks Named Administrator of the Year
Posted on 04/23/2024
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Laura Ricks, TOSA/Instructional Coach at Empire Elementary School, was honored as the Carson City School District’s Educator of the Year, at the Tuesday, April 23, School Board Meeting and annual event. Additionally, Sandra Guzzetta, special education paraprofessional at Bordewich Bray Elementary School, was recognized as the Education Support Professional (ESP) Employee of the Year, and Chelise Crookshanks, principal at Mark Twain Elementary School, was recognized as the district’s Administrator of the Year.

Ricks and Guzzetta 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 decision of selecting “one” ESP employee of the year, “one” educator of the year and “one” administrator of the year.

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

  • Heather Canfield, Kindergarten Teacher, Fritsch Elementary
  • Marla Churchill, TOSA/Instructional Coach, Mark Twain Elementary
  • Pamela Cowperthwaite, TOSA/Curriculum & Assessment Coordinator, Student Support Services
  • Nicole Fagundes, World History, Global Issues Teacher, Carson High School
  • Jacqueline Koch, Eighth-grade English Teacher, Carson Middle School
  • Miyoko (Mimi) Loflin, TOSA/Instructional Coach, Bordewich Bray Elementary
  • Laura Ricks, TOSA/Instructional Coach, Empire Elementary
  • Kristin Steinkraus, Science Teacher, Pioneer Academy
  • Andrew Tiscareno, Sixth and Seventh-grade Social Studies Teacher, Eagle Valley Middle School
  • Socorro Vega, First-grade Teacher, Seeliger Elementary
  • Brittni Winkler, Fifth-grade Teacher, Fremont Elementary

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

  • Socorro Ampudia, Custodian, Fritsch Elementary
  • Patricia Bean, Distance Education Assistant, Pioneer Academy
  • Denali Bell, Library Media Technician, Mark Twain Elementary
  • Jessica Graham, Cook/Baker, Seeliger Elementary
  • Sandra Guzzetta, Special Education Paraprofessional, Bordewich Bray Elementary
  • Ratree Hamilton, Special Education Paraprofessional, Fremont Elementary
  • Jacqueline Kleinfieldt, Information Technology Support Technician, Administration
  • Susan Maher, Pre-K Paraprofessional, Empire Elementary
  • Maria Navarette, English Language Paraprofessional, Carson Middle School
  • Jamie Page, Administrative Assistant, Eagle Valley Middle School
  • Enrique (Henry) Ramos Talamantes, Groundskeeper, Operations
  • Jenna Redus, Administrative Assistant, Student Support Servcies
  • Heather Stagliano, Administrative Assistant, Transportation
  • John Wilson, Custodian, Carson High School

“What an amazing evening and opportunity to recognize the outstanding work of individuals doing their best for the kids of Carson City every single day,” said Andrew Feuling, superintendent for the Carson City School District. “Our district has so many exceptional employees and educators. The more than two dozen individuals recognized tonight represent more than 900 others who exhibit unwavering dedication, passion and commitment to the success of our students and the betterment of our community. They are truly inspiring.”

Laura Ricks first began working with the Carson City School District as a substitute teacher back in 2003. She was hired on full-time in 2013. Her career has been driven by a passionate commitment to student success, exemplified by her innovative teaching style and collaborative approach to education.

As the only National Board Certified educator at Empire Elementary school, her focus on literacy and commitment to excellence is evident in her efforts to stay informed about the latest research and best practices. To say it plainly, Ricks is the first to learn so she can lead a team.

She earned a bachelor’s in elementary education, a master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages, she retains a certification in Gifted and Talented education and is nationally certified in STEM. She also implemented the Nevada PRESS Project interventions and serves as a writer for the Nevada State Literacy Plan.

In addition to being highly decorated as a teacher, Ms. Ricks still prioritizes student learning by helping students set and exceed their goals by fostering relationships with parents and families through weekly postcards. This personable technique reinforces the student’s sense of belonging.

“Laura Ricks is an amazing educator,” said Shelby Tuttle, principal of Empire Elementary School. “She exhibits the best qualities and characteristics anyone could ask for as an educator. She is a coach and instructor of fellow educators, she is a partner with our families, she is a strong advocate for every student on our campus and she is a thoughtful leader. Her work is not only acknowledged at Empire Elementary, but also throughout the entire district, the State of Nevada and with National Organizations across the country.”

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

Sandra Gazzette has worked for the Carson City School District since 2001 in a variety of roles and responsibilities. As an alternate standards paraprofessional at Bordewich Bray Elementary, she has consistently demonstrated exceptional dedication, compassion and commitment to the students she serves.

“One of Sandy’s most remarkable qualities is her willingness to invest her own resources in meeting the needs of her students,” said Cheryl Richetta, principal of Bordewich Bray Elementary School. “She frequently purchases treats, clothing and education materials out of her own pocket, ensuring that her students have access to essential resources that may otherwise be lacking. Her selflessness and generosity make a profound difference in the lives of her students and their families.”

Gazzette works tirelessly with Kindergarten, first and second-grade students, providing them with the care and support they need to thrive academically and emotionally. Her genuine love for her students is evident in everything she does. Her warm and friendly demeanor creates a positive and inclusive atmosphere within our schools, fostering a sense of belonging for everyone she encounters. Her strongest quality, however, may be the depth of her loyalty and love to the students.

In addition to last night’s award, as the District Educator of the Year, Ms. Guzzetta will also have the opportunity to compete statewide for Nevada ESP Employee of the Year.

Prior to her appointment as the new Principal for Mark Twain Elementary School, Chelise Crookshanks was the vice principal and the dean of students at Carson Middle School. Prior to that, she was the assistant principal, dean of students, instructional coach and Chemistry, Advance Chemistry and Environmental Science teacher at White Pine High School in Ely, Nev.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Nevada, Reno, a secondary education teaching credential from Sierra Nevada College, a master’s in Education Administration and Supervision from the University of Phoenix and a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) post-graduate coursework endorsement from Southern Utah University.

“Chelise is an outstanding mentor and leader among her colleagues,” said Dr. Jennifer Ward, principal at Fremont Elementary School. “She consistently goes above and beyond to share her expertise, insights and best practices with fellow administrators, empowering them to excel in their roles and make a meaningful difference in the lives of students. Her cooperative spirit and willingness to collaborate make her an invaluable asset to our school community and the broader education landscape.”