Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers Delivers $1 Million to Local Educators 

Published by The Bee News

November 16, 2021

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Though Christmas is set for December 25, for 400 teachers across Arizona – 20 from Mohave County – it came early. During the early days of November, in what has become an annual tradition to honor, support and celebrate Arizona’s teachers, the Fiesta Bowl Organization was proud to award $1 million to teachers through the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program.

“They may not wear capes, but teachers are real-life superheroes. They give tirelessly to their students and Wishes for Teachers is our opportunity to reward them for their efforts,” said Jeff Meshey, president and CEO at Desert Financial. “Desert Financial was founded by teachers—we continue their legacy by returning as the title partner for this year’s Wishes for Teachers, in partnership with Fiesta Bowl Charities. Teachers often pay for school supplies out of their own pockets, so there’s no greater way to express our gratitude than by granting their classroom wishes.”

Through a three-day Virtual Draft Day presented by Salt River Project (SRP), 400 teachers from K-12 schools were each given $2,500 to grant a wish in their classrooms. The winners were chosen based on a program in the fall wherein any Arizona K-12 teacher was able to fill out an online application detailing a school or classroom need. The wishes were then verified and selected by random drawing for teachers to receive a grant. Over the six years of the program, Fiesta Bowl Wishes for Teachers has granted $4.7 total million to more than 1,200 Arizona teachers, impacting more than 500,000 children across the state.

“I love Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Draft Day presented by SRP, it is so exciting when we call each teacher to let them know their name was selected as a grant recipient,” said Patrick Barkley, chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors. “Wishes for Teachers is well-known around the state as the preeminent program for teacher support. My mom was a teacher, and we all know teachers who inspire us with their selfless work.”

This year, the 400 teachers represent 300 schools in 63 cities across the state, teaching more than 200,000 students in 84 districts over 75 subjects, from social studies to special education, literature to leadership, music to math.

A look at how the 20 Mohave County teachers will be using their $2,500 wish grants:

Bullhead City – Six Teachers  

  • Anna Boyd a math teacher at Mohave High School, will purchase drawing tablets to assist students.
  • Angela Hall, a 1st grade teacher at Diamondback Elementary School, will purchase additional books for the classroom.
  • Nicole Jarman, an English teacher at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center, will purchase equipment to create a quality newscast with students.
  • Lucinda Price, a science teacher at Young Scholar’s Academy, will replace equipment for the Physical Education class that is outdated and/or broken.
  • Kerrie Priest, a kindergarten teacher at Mohave Accelerated Elementary School, will purchase a listening center and supplies for students.
  • Yvonne Spencer, a kindergarten teacher at Mohave Accelerated Elementary School, will to provide new seating options for their students to promote a better learning environment.

Fort Mohave – Eight Teachers  

  • Aga Cook, a 5th grade teacher at Camp Mohave Elementary School, will build an engaging classroom library with fiction and non-fiction book sets.
  • Chad Fulton, a physical education teacher at Desert Star Academy, will purchase equipment for the gym.
  • Sheridan Klingensmith, a math teacher at Desert Star Academy, will provide new seating options for their students to promote a better learning environment.
  • Joshua Michel, a language arts teacher at Desert Star Academy, will provide new seating options for their students to promote a better learning environment.
  • Lori Ragsdale, 3rd grade teacher at Desert Star Academy, will provide tablets to all students in the class.
  • Angela Ritacca, a 2nd grade teacher at Desert Star Academy, will provide laptops for her class.
  • Frank Sagasta, a leadership and life skills teacher at Desert Star Academy, will purchase leadership books for the classroom library.
  • Tracie Winn, a science teacher at Desert Star Middle School, will purchase human skeleton models for science class.

Lake Havasu City – Three Teachers  

  • Jodi Biasiucci, an art teacher at Havasupai Elementary School, will purchase art equipment and materials for the class.
  • Kristen Leffler, a 4th grade teacher at Nautilus Elementary School, will provide new seating options for students to promote a better learning environment.
  • Kathleen Rabideau, an English teacher at Lake Havasu High School, will provide Chromebooks for the class.

Kingman – One Teacher  

  • Jennifer Cass, a 2nd grade teacher at Cerbat Elementary School, will purchase a Smart TV for the classroom.

Mohave Valley – Two Teachers  

  • Renee Hollander, a math teacher at River Valley High School, will purchase additional science lab equipment and materials.
  • Julie Vogt, a science teacher at Mohave Valley Junior High School, will purchase equipment and supplies for science lab and STEM activities.

“Teachers are our unsung heroes, who give so much to our students in helping them become tomorrow’s leaders. Giving them a spotlight for their selfless work and support them with extra resources is an important part of the Fiesta Bowl’s commitment to our community,” said Mike Nealy, Fiesta Bowl Executive Director. “Thanks to our partners Desert Financial and SRP, Wishes for Teachers help rewards Arizona’s teachers and give them a step forward in ways they may have only wished.”

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