AzSCA 2019 Award Winners

School Counselor of the Year

Candice Alvarez
Sahuarita Unified Schools

Candice Alvarez has been a school counselor for 12 years in Southern Arizona. Candice has been married to her husband, Dennis for 11 years and they have two beautiful children; her son, Dennis who is 6 years old and her daughter, Kalia who is 3 years old. Candice enjoys spending her down time with her family and working out (especially running). Most of her down time is spent at her son’s many sports events and at her daughter’s folklorico dancing.

Candice has worked in three different elementary schools within Southern Arizona. She began her career in the Tucson Unified School District at Wright Elementary. She then began to work on the C3 Federal School Counseling Grant at Southgate Academy. During this time Candice was able to RAMP her school counseling program. For the past 7 years Candice has called Copper View Elementary School in Sahuarita, AZ her home away from home. She has been involved with the Arizona School Counselor Association for 12 years and has been leading the AzSCA Southern Arizona School Counseling Symposium. This event brings collaboration between school counselors, administrators and community members around Southern Arizona. Candice has presented during conferences and has helped to lead her counseling department in her district in professional development.

At Copper View, Candice has taken leadership over different programs within the school. The biggest program she leads is the Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports (PBIS) program. She assisted with the rest of the leadership team to use PBIS to create a positive school climate. She has also become a facilitator for the SWIS data program, which collects school wide discipline data. With this information the team makes decisions regarding how to lower discipline concerns. Candice meets with the classes weekly teaching her counseling lessons. She also works with the gifted students at the school in a group setting. She collaborates with other counselors in the district and the gifted teacher to ensure success for her students. Candice meets with parents during academic meetings to help meet all needs the students may have. She has students check in and out with her daily to ensure they are meeting their classroom goals. Candice makes it a point to speak with her teachers regularly to know if they have any concerns regarding their students.

Candice became a school counselor to work with students and help them realize their goals in life. She knew that she wanted to work with elementary age children because she knew that if they had a goal to work toward they would want to continue on their educational journey. She also knows that children come to school with so much going on in their personal lives that they need help above and beyond what her fantastic teachers can always give. Candice prides herself on being a people person and she loves getting to know the families so she can truly be there in their time of need. Candice also has a passion for post-secondary options and loves teaching these to all her students, especially her kindergarteners because they get so excited to learn about what is out there for their future. She talks about every option they have including college, military, tech schools and careers.

Rising Star Award

Deanna Ainsworth
Lake Havasu High School

Deanna Ainsworth is a school counselor at Lake Havasu High School (LHHS), a Re-RAMP school. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Science degree in guidance and counseling from the University of West Alabama. Prior to entering the school counseling field, Deanna taught mathematics at Lake Havasu High School for eight years. This is Deanna’s third year as a school counselor. In her free time, she enjoys tutoring students in math and spending time with her friends and family.
According to Scott Becker, principal at LHHS: “Deanna absorbs many responsibilities beyond her counseling assignment. In her complicated role, I have witnessed firsthand her extreme dedication, hard work, and commitment to bringing out the best in her students and peers. She is an exceptional role model both personally and professionally. Her sincerity and compassion that is put into all of her extra responsibilities as well as her counseling assignment is extremely effective and appreciated by those around her.”

Administrator of the Year

Rafael David Montaño
Pueblo High School

Mr. Rafael David Montaño is the Assistant Principal of Student Services at Pueblo High School in Tucson, Arizona.  Mr. Montaño holds a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in education administration from Northern Arizona University where he graduated with distinction. Mr. Montaño began his career at Maxwell Middle School in 1996 and moved into his first administrative position in 2003. He has served in the following administrative roles: activities, athletics, curriculum and instruction and middle school principal. Prior to his educational career, Mr. Montaño worked for Up With People and received the certificate of achievement in 1990.  Mr. Montaño resides in Tucson with his family.

According to Teresa Toro, School Counselor at Pueblo High School: “David teachers us about leadership through example and by facilitating teamwork dynamics and logistics. He is keen to notice the qualities and strengths in others and helps to distribute tasks based on those strengths, giving others the opportunity to practice leadership.” She also added, “We are in the process of RAMPing our school counseling program and he has allowed me to take the time to work on the extensive process of documentation that RAMPing requires.”

Advocate of the Year

Steve Farley
Former Arizona Legislator and Tucson Mayoral Candidate

Steve Farley got involved in public service because he loves his community and is concerned about the challenges facing our families and communities. The child of public school teachers, he is a big believer in public education. Representing Tucson in Arizona’s legislature, Steve fought to increase teacher pay and reduce class sizes. He’s focused on growing good-paying jobs, spurring economic development, improving public safety, and bringing world-class transportation choices to Arizona.
Steve worked across the aisle to expand Medicaid healthcare to 400,000 Arizonans, and successfully leveraged the power wielded by the RedforEd teachers movement to help approve more than $415 million in new funds for K-12 public education in this year.
Steve is one of Arizona’s most successful leaders in pushing to improve public transportation. He was instrumental in gaining approval for the comprehensive regional transportation system, which has created thousands of jobs, made widespread improvements to our roads, buses, bikeways and sidewalks, and installed Tucson’s Modern Streetcar rail line—all in the middle of the worst recession Arizona has seen. The streetcar alone has spurred more than a billion dollars in private construction projects within three blocks of its route, and is a big piece of the rebirth of Tucson’s downtown. 
Steve graduated from Williams College in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He has worked to protect Tucson in the Arizona Legislature for 12 years—elected by voters for three terms in the House and three in the Senate, and elected Assistant Minority Leader by Democrats in both House and Senate. He has served on the Finance, Joint Legislative Budget, and Appropriations committees where he oversaw the $10 billion state budget.
On a personal level, Steve is a 56-year-old small-business owner who has lived in Tucson since 1995. He is father to 24-year-old Amelia and 19-year-old Genevieve and engaged to Kitt Leonard, an Arizona native who works in IT at Tucson Medical Center and has five children and four grandchildren.
Steve is also a well-known artist and graphic designer who invented a new way of converting photographs to glazed ceramic tile to create Tucson’s historic Broadway Underpass murals, black-and-white larger-than-life street photos just east of Downtown that capture the diversity that gives the community strength. He has since completed numerous mural projects around the U.S. He has run his own public art and graphic design business since 1991.