By Becky Maxedon
The Lake Havasu Unified School District name its Teacher of the Year, Staff Member of the Year and Rookie of the Year today.
Andrea Montes was named District Teacher of the Year.
Montes is a special education teacher who has worked at Jamaica Elementary School for 14 years.
“We were lucky enough to recruit her from New York in 2005. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in Special Education from SUNY Geneseo and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from SUNY Brockport,” Director of Personnel and Technology Jaime Festa-Daigle said in an email.
Festa-Daigle said, “Andrea’s effectiveness as an educator comes from her belief that a teacher must always be a learner. She has challenged herself each year to learn something new and add it to her repertoire of teaching. She thinks about each of her students as individuals and uses what she knows about each of them to support them in learning. She holds high expectations for her students and lets them know that every one of them is capable of learning.”
“This feels really overwhelming. I’m humbled by the recognition. But I love what I do so it’s easy for me to put my heart into it,” Montes said.
Jamaica principal Andrea Helart said, “Mrs. Montes is a teacher who truly has dedicated herself to our Jamaica team over the course of the last 14 years. She is a teacher who always prioritizes the needs of her students both academically as well as socially and emotionally every day. She provides a key role for our team as our Student Intervention Coordinator as well as our Social Education lead, assisting our teachers along with our SIT team in helping identify ways to serve students who have a higher level of need.”
The Staff Member of the Year is Danny Morgan.
Morgan has been with the district since June 2014 and has spent all his years at Oro Grande Classical Academy. He has more than 20 years of construction expertise.
“Danny is supportive in all capacities. Be it classroom needs to ensure students have the best opportunity to learn (fixing the broken desk, chair, heat, air, or dripping noise in the ceiling), he is also on call 24-7 to provide insight or support where needed (after school programs, weekend events). He is always there to provide a hand when setting up or taking down evening programs such as Dr. Seuss night, winter programs, or sixth-grade graduation,” Festa-Daigle said.
Megan Meraz was named Rookie of the Year.
Hired in July 2019, Meraz previously taught in Yucca Valley for three years before moving to Lake Havasu City.
She is an undergraduate of Cal State Hayward and has a master’s degree in Secondary English Education from Grand Canyon University.
Meraz is a teacher at Thunderbolt Middle School.
“Megan works purposefully with her grade level team to plan. Team planning is the norm on this campus and even though she is new, Megan not only listens and accepts support, she also contributes ideas and follow-through to support her team,” Festa-Daigle said.
Also honored was retiring Thunderbolt principal Mari Jo Mulligan. She is retiring after 18 years.
The teacher awards ceremony is usually hosted by the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce and the organization provided the glass awards this year. It is the third year for the awards.