Pat Smith, Desert Vista Elementary School principal, presented employee and volunteer of the month awards at the March 21 Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board meeting.
Receiving the classified (non-teacher) employee of the month award was Maria Chaparro. Principal Smith praised her, stating, “Maria is our receptionist, so she is the first face you see when you walk through our office doors. She serves our staff, our students, and our parents – our learning community – in such a wonderful way that every day is very enjoyable.”
Melinda Rumple was recognized as the certified (teacher) employee of the month.
“What Melinda does to serve our students and our families, she does from the heart,” Principal Smith said. “Not only does she serve DVES and our community, but each and every year, she raises thousands of dollars for the American Heart Association. She has also received recognition from Michelle Obama, who sent a letter thanking her for her contributions to healthy, fit students, because we know that a healthy body means a healthy mind.”
The volunteer of the month, Joe Gerber, is a winter visitor who has taught scores of AJUSD students to love the game of chess.
“A couple years ago, Joe approached me with the idea to start a chess club at Desert Vista. It started off with maybe six students, and it has grown from there,” Principal Smith said. “As we know, chess is very much a mind game, building critical thinking skills as students plan their moves. But it doesn’t stop there. I am honoring Mr. Gerber tonight, not just for Desert Vista, but also on behalf of our district. Mr. Gerber has reached out to all of our elementary schools and junior high to bring the love of chess to our district. We thank Mr. Gerber for volunteering consistently for so many years.”
Editor’s note: Dana Hawman-Trumbull is the AJUSD public relations coordinator.