Employees of the Year

District Honors Educators and Employees of the Year
Posted on 04/28/2021
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Tad Williams, Jr., fifth grade teacher at Fritsch Elementary School, was honored last night as the Carson City School District’s Educator of the Year. Additionally, Jillian Shufelt, Distance Education assistant at Pioneer High School, was recognized as the Education Support Professional (ESP) Employee of the Year for the district.

During the school board meeting and annual event, the Carson City School District also recognized Dan Brown, principal at Fritsch Elementary School as the district’s Administrator of the Year.

Williams and Shufelt 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 site alphabetically) last night include:

  • Lavon Sollberger, administrative assistant at Carson High School
  • Ananda Campbell, librarian at Carson High School
  • Jillian Shufelt, Distance Education assistant at Pioneer High School
  • Daniel Echebarria, Social Studies and English teacher at Pioneer High School
  • Mayra Dyer Valarde, para professional ESL at Carson Middle School
  • Shelly Randall, LD/Special Education teacher at Carson Middle School
  • Pamela Molleson, para professional at Eagle Valley Middle School
  • Brittany Witter, 7th/8th Grade Social Studies teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School
  • Dan Owen, Lead Custodian at Al Seeliger Elementary School
  • Mary Wright, LD/Special Education teacher at Al Seeliger Elementary School
  • Janet Ingram, para professional at Bordewich Bray Elementary School
  • Heather Thomas, Kindergarten teacher at Bordewich Bray Elementary School
  • James Phillips, cook/baker at Empire Elementary School
  • Kayleigh Robinson, 4th Grade teacher at Empire Elementary School
  • Jennifer Jacobsen, Special Education para professional at Fremont Elementary School
  • Sandra Huffman, LD/Special Education teacher at Fremont Elementary School
  • Patrick Smith, lead custodian at Fritsch Elementary School
  • Tad Williams, Jr., 5th Grade teacher at Fritsch Elementary School
  • Mike Ulrych, custodian at Mark Twain Elementary School
  • Christi Schmid, 1st Grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School
  • Rosella Jordan, administrative secretary for Student Support Services
  • Janet Silvestro, speech language pathologist for Student Support Services
  • Rebecca Hawkins, bus driver for Transportation
  • Kevin Mezquita, mail delivery driver for Operations Services
  • Mark Gruver, lead technology support technician for the District Office and Professional Development Center Administration

"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.”

Mr. Tad Williams, Jr. has been teaching with the district for nine years and is a Rodeo World Champion for team roping. He earned the World Champion Title at the 2017 Indian National Finals. He actively applies the principals taught by Dr. James Comer, a professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale, which reads “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” That’s what Mr. Williams demonstrates each day at school. With those relationships comes trust and respect. Mr. Williams makes it a priority to make those connections with students. In his classroom, he fosters a program called “I wish my teacher knew,” which gives his students an opportunity to share things about themselves.

Mr. Williams elaborated that he tells his students “It’s okay to have bad days. The students just need to feel comfortable enough to tell me that the dog barked all night, and they couldn’t sleep, or that the cops came, and they were scared. As soon as a teacher knows the struggles their students are experiencing, it is a little bit easier to endure patiently with behavior problems or academic struggles.”

Whether it is rodeo or teaching, Mr. Williams never ceases to impress. In addition to last night’s award, as the District Educator of the Year, Mr. Williams will also have the opportunity to compete statewide for Nevada Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Jillian Shufelt works at Pioneer High School as the online lab staff serving grades 9-12, providing credit recovery options, assisting the distance education coordinator and serving as the student leadership advisor and the Speech and Debate team advisor. She played an integral role in helping Pioneer achieve it highest graduation rate ever. Before working at Pioneer, she spent two years teaching English in Mexico and now assists the Pioneer High School office with Spanish Interpreting in parent conferences. It has been said on multiple occasions that she is a “Light” on campus, helping others shine (coworkers and students alike) and reach their full potential.

One of the panel committee members in the interview judging the Employee of the Year Awards said Ms. Shufelt reminded her of the Fred Rogers story about seeing scary things in the news and how his mother always told him to “Look for the helpers.” Ms. Shufelt is one of those helpers.

“The most important thing I’ve learned is that a good educator teaches students, not lessons,” Shufelt said. “Education is most definitely all about the students. They must be the center of the educational experience.”

Mr. Dan Brown is the principal of Fritsch Elementary School. He fosters an educational environment where students can learn as well as think back with pleasure and reflect on many fun and memorable moments of their young lives. Whether it is being duct-taped to the wall or leading the charge on an exciting dress-up day, Mr. Brown is a stalwart leader who is passionate and dedicated to education. The well-being of students is always at the forefront of his work, and he supports school culture and staff self-care. This year, more than ever, many teachers needed more emotional support from one another. Mr. Brown helped facilitate a “Staff Restorative Circle,” where teachers were able to open up about feelings, emotions and fears of COVID-19. In February, Fritsch also lost two staff members to cancer. Mr. Brown took time to honor and hold a memorial. There is no shortage of passion and care in Mr. Brown. His thoughtfulness is felt by all.