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Hugs, handshakes and lots of laughs at 25 Year Employee Breakfast

Gold celebrating the best of GPS!

A photo of the 25 Year Employee awards lined up on a white counter.Milestones often mark major accomplishments in our lives. They allow us for a brief moment to pause, reflect and celebrate our journeys. We are reminded of our favorite memories, funny moments and the meaningful connections that we’ve made along the way. For these reasons and many more, Gilbert Public Schools celebrates our 25 year employees.

This year’s 25 Year Employee Breakfast took place on Thursday, December 1, 2022. Nearly 40 employees gathered with their colleagues, administrators, district leadership and the Governing Board for the celebration at the district office. 

“Today is about you. Today is about you dedicating your life, not just to education, but to being some place for this long,” said Superintendent Dr. Shane McCord to the honorees and guests.

For at least a quarter of a century, these employees have committed their lives to GPS students, their families and the community at-large. They’ve invested their time, in and out of the classroom, to ensure students are prepared for life beyond GPS, and day-by-day they’ve built upon the district’s legacy of excellence.

“That’s why you being here today, having served kids, families and each other for so long is extremely special,” Dr. McCord said.

A group photo of all 25 year employees and distinguished guests.The world has evolved so much over the past 25 years. In 1997, Google was founded, Seinfeld was the number one show on television, and it was also the year ‘The Lion King’ debuted on Broadway. The population of Gilbert, at the time, was around 75,000 people. Today, the Town is more than three times that size. There were 26,000 GPS students enrolled across 24 schools. Now there are more than 33,000 students across 39 schools. The number of GPS employees has also gone up.

“Back in the day, we grew so fast that we didn’t know how to keep up with it,” Dr. McCord said.

Despite the challenges of growth, this group stuck around through the ups and downs just like a family. As Dr. McCord called up each honoree, he read off some of their fondest memories at GPS, and he shared some personal ones of his own. 

“I knew Matt when he was at Val Vista Lakes. Way back, right?,” Dr. McCord said, “He taught my boys. He coached them, so thank you for everything.”

The experience truly was a trip down memory lane as honorees reflected on highlights of their career, whether that was winning a championship title or performing with their music students at Carnegie Hall. Some even stayed in touch with their students long after they left their classrooms, including one GPS teacher who officiated the wedding of her former students over Fall Break. Other honorees shared how working in education helped strengthen their bonds with their own children. They were able to spend more time with them over the years, including taking them to school every day Dr. Shane McCord poses for a group photo with the GPS Governing Board.or coaching their sports team.

“The connections that are made working for GPS are so special that when asked for their favorite memory, employees often list more than one,” said Jennifer Perry, Strategy Specialist with the Office of Talent Management.

Dr. McCord was not only the master of ceremonies, but he was also one of the award recipients, having marked his 25th year with the district. He once again expressed his gratitude to the people in the room.

“I truly appreciate everyone here for making sure that our students are taken care of. If you know me, you know I’m about the kids. That’s why you are still here, because you care about these kids so much,” he said.


Written by Kailey Latham, Photos by Jonason Pauley