- Desert Ridge Junior High
Employees of the Year Banquet honors the best of the best
Our administrators, support staff, and teachers are the heart of our Gilbert Public Schools family. They work tirelessly every day to ensure that our more than 33,000 GPS students have the best learning environment possible. Not only do they make sure our students have the resources necessary to be successful in and outside of the classroom, but they also help our GPS students create memories that will last a lifetime. The district is extremely grateful to have the best of the best working for GPS!
Gilbert Public Schools could not let this school year end without recognizing the amazing talent, commitment, and excellence of our employees. The district hosted the annual Employees of the Year Banquet on Thursday, March 31, 2022 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Phoenix-Gilbert. The beautiful hotel was the perfect setting for such a grand affair. Nearly 500 people gathered for the celebration inside the Elegante ballroom. They were dressed to impress and ready to have fun. Every GPS school was represented along with several district departments. Smiles and laughter filled the room as our 45 nominees sat around tables with their loved ones and their work families. It felt like one big giant reunion.
Superintendent Dr. Shane McCord kept the energy going throughout the night. He paid every nominee a special visit at their table, where he got to tell the entire ballroom about their impact on their school or department and the district. Every nominee received gift baskets filled with goodies. There were three semifinalists for every category of Employee of the Year - Administrator, Support Staff, and Teacher. The semifinalists were honored with video tributes that gave some insight into who they are and their daily responsibilities. They truly inspire excellence in every learner.
The exceptional night was topped off by having some very special guests in attendance, including Gilbert Mayor Brigette Peterson, Gilbert Chamber of Commerce President Sarah Watts, the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board members, the Gilbert Education Foundation’s Executive Director Theresa Dootson, and Jessica Clanton Jungblut of Sun Valley Builders, our presenting sponsor. Thank you to all of our sponsors who made this year’s event one to remember.
While the honorees and special attendees dined on a delicious meal and dessert, they were treated to a performance by the incredible Highland High School Starlight Serenade under the direction of Mr. Bill Bitter. The legendary Bitter was also recognized for his more than four decades of teaching with Gilbert Public Schools. Bitter will retire at the end of the school year.
The most highly-anticipated moments of the night were when our three winners of Employee of the Year were announced by Dr. McCord. We want to congratulate Health Services Director Jennefer Frost, the Administrator of the Year; Campo Verde’s Athletic Administrative Assistant Jaccee Iannarelli, the Support Staff of the Year; and Augusta Ranch Elementary’s Kindergarten Teacher Janelle Clower, who is the Teacher of the Year. All of you embody what makes Gilbert Public Schools a standout district in the Valley and Arizona.
To learn more about our three Employees of the Year, please check out the videos below along with a message from each winner about what this award means to them. You can also view the videos of our other six semifinalists here.
Jennefer Frost, Director of Health Services
Administrator of the Year
“It is an honor and privilege to have won this award. I am extremely blessed to work with the best nurses and health assistants around! The GPS community has been so supportive and welcoming. I am grateful to serve here!”
Jacee Iannarelli, Athletic Administrative Assistant, Campo Verde High School
Support Staff of the Year
“I don’t even know how to gather my thoughts on how perfect this evening was. I am truly blessed to work for an amazing school, Campo Verde High School, which I helped open almost 13 years ago, and a school district and superintendent that honors and appreciates their employees. I feel like I landed in the right place that I call home.. CV Family! I was honored to be named Support Staff of the Year for Gilbert Public Schools for the 2021-2022 school year. Every person every day, I strive to live up to that every day when I go to work. Tonight was honestly one of the best nights of my life.”
Janelle Clower, Kindergarten Teacher, Augusta Ranch Elementary
Teacher of the Year
“Words can not express how honored I am to receive the award for Teacher of the Year! I am blessed to work for a school district that recognizes and supports their employees! Thank you to everyone who has always believed in me, especially my amazing family, friends, and colleagues. Thank you to everyone for celebrating my accomplishments; without your support, encouragement, and love, none of this would have been possible! It is my goal to continue providing my students with a positive learning environment and ensure that every child leaves my classroom knowing that they are loved and accepted!”