Home-Grown Talent Kicks Off New Year For Teachers, Staff

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Newly appointed Payson Schools Superintendent Sue Myers called upon rank-and-file employees to provide inspiration at the new school year's orientation assembly Friday.

Myers tapped Dennis Pirch, Allen Lyles and Cynthia Chovich to address the estimated 425 students, teachers, and support staff who attended the program July 26 in the Payson High School auditorium.

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Sue Myers, Payson Schools Superintendent

Pirch has been an award-winning coach and teacher at PHS for 34 years; Lyles has served as custodian for 19 years, mostly at Payson Elementary School; and Chovich, a teacher at Frontier Elementary School, was named Ambassador of Excellence by the Arizona Education Foundation two years ago.

All three speakers focused on the importance of teamwork in education and emphasized that all district employees, not just teachers, play a role in educating children.

Pirch, a former national high school wrestling coach of the year, said the most important profession today is teaching children and preparing them for life's challenges.

Lyles stressed pride in the workplace and encouraged all employees to take the extra step to make PUSD the best district possible.

Myers, who took over as district superintendent July 1, spoke about restructuring PUSD in light of the many administrative changes over the past three months.

Since former superintendent Herb Weissenfels' resignation in May, administrative changes have taken place at all the schools in the district.

To enhance learning, new positions were created in the district. Bill Lawson was named PUSD's director of curriculum, instruction and special programs while district business manager, Bobette Sylvester was promoted to associate superintendent.

Myers said the wholesale changes have been a challenge, but a good opportunity to showcase the district's talented administrators and teachers.

The new superintendent also stressed the changes will provide a format on which the district can become even more successful than it has been in the past.

Myers ended by showing a clip from the movie "Pay if Forward" in which actor, Kevin Spacey -- playing the role of a middle school teacher -- challenges his students to think of an idea that will change the world and then put it into action.

Myers directed the audience to do the same.

Several individuals received recognition for their contributions last school year including school resource officer Steve Montgomery and PHS counselor and coach Don Heizer.

Montgomery was recently named the Arizona State School Resource Officer of the Year and Heizer crowned the National High School Wrestling Coaches Association Region 8 Assistant Coach of the Year. Heizer is currently a candidate for the National Wrestling Coach of the Year honor.

The Payson High School cheerleaders, winners of several honors at a Flagstaff cheer camp, performed at the opening and closing of the assembly.

School begins for all students in the district July 28. However, freshmen will report to PHS at 9 a.m., July 27 for orientation. The program starts in the auditorium where they will meet with upperclassmen, teachers and administrators, then visit their classrooms. Buses will run regular routes for the freshman.

Then on July 28, elementary schools begin at 8 a.m. and middle school and high school at 8:30 a.m. Buses will be running their assigned routes to and from schools.

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