Kellie Burns is the District Executive Officer at the Yavapai Accommodation School District. Prior to becoming DEO, she was the Dean of Students at YASD from July 2014 to February 2016. She was born and raised in Sturgis, South Dakota and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD in 2000. Shortly after college graduation, she moved with her family to Holbrook, Arizona, where she taught 4th grade for five years. In 2005, she and her family moved to Seligman, Arizona, where she taught a variety of grade levels and subject areas for nine years. She earned her ELL Certification in 2005 and Master’s in Administrative Leadership and Supervision in 2009 from the University of Phoenix. She serves on three professional boards: the Forest Fees Management Association, the Arizona Correctional Educators Board and the Arizona Alternative Education Consortium, and one personal board: the Arizona Draft Horse and Mule Association. She is a proud wife, mother of three and grandmother of two. She currently resides in Paulden with her family and brood of animals on the family hobby farm.
Allison Fontana came to Arizona by way of Utah then by California. A lover of sun and surf at heart, she finally adapted to life in the mountains where she always wonders if it is about to snow. As a lover of numbers and purchase orders, she honed her business acumen working directly with the Yavapai County Education Service Agency for a decade. Fortunately for the district, we have Allison now in the position of Business Manager. Serving with multiple organizations which begin with the letter “A” – the Arizona School Boards Association and the Arizona Association of School Business officials – she brings her effervescent joy and business skill to those entities. While not saving the school from financial disaster, she occupies herself raising two daughters and has a home in Paulden.
Karen McClellan is the Registrar Specialist at the Yavapai Accommodation School District where she is responsible for state reporting and student information systems district wide. She was born in Crown King, Arizona and has lived in Prescott most of her life. She graduated from Prescott High School and later Southwest Institute of Trichology. She married her high school sweetheart, had three children and eventually moved on to education where she has remained for the last sixteen years. She is a current AASBO member and Arizona Correctional Educators member, earning their prestigious 2017 award of Outstanding Correctional Professional of the Year. She has also served as Vice President of the Arizona Association of Special Education Providers and Arizona Certified Surrogate Parent for disadvantaged students. Karen is adept at communicating with adolescents. She has also served on NCA Steering committees at two different schools. Tim Carter, Yavapai County Superintendent, recently gave her the honorary award “Director of First Impressions” because of her friendly and approachable demeanor.
Cherri Redd is the science teacher at Yavapai Accommodation School District. She has worked here since the fall of 2016, and when asked, she states, “I love it here!”. She graduated from Tarleton State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education and received a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University in 2011. She has taught in Arizona since 2003. She also taught for three years in Hawaii. She feels that commitment at YASD to her students is her highest priority. She, along with the rest of the staff, believe that all students will succeed in their career choices and she aims to help them achieve those goals.
Michael Costanzo is the Special Education Teacher at the Yavapai Accommodation School District. He was born in Canoga Park, California, the home of Mission Tortillas. Both of his parents were teachers so his focus of study in high school and college was teaching. After graduating from his K-8th one room school, he attended a college preparatory school where he worked off his tuition grooming the football field and track. Post high school, he attended the University of San Diego with 5 minor courses of study (the basic 4 academic areas and special education). He played football for the University as a running back. He graduated in 1977 and completed 2 additional years of graduate school so he would qualify in 5 certification areas and earn his Master’s Degree. Since no district was hiring new teachers with Master’s Degrees at the time, he created non-profit, on-school site child care programs for the elementary schools named “Klassic Kids”. It is still located in Mira Mesa (on the outskirts of San Diego) California. When his wife and he decided to move to Arizona, he retired from his daycare programs. The city of Mira Mesa threw a parade and a roast for “Uncle Mikey” and the city of San Diego proclaimed May 26th as Mike Costanzo Day.
Once situated in Chino Valley, Arizona, he worked in special education classrooms at Chino Valley High School, Glassford Hill Middle School and Bradshaw Mountain High School. He coached football and track at both high schools. He says that the Yavapai Accommodation School District is a great place to work, a great place to learn and the students are amazing.
He loves to cook anything from Italian food to Sushi and just about anything in between. He is quite skilled in the art of balloon animals (he has always been a clown of sorts). He also loves gardening and fishing. He and his wife have been married 36 years and have four children, eleven grandchildren and a mess of animals that call their house home.
Paul Rogers is the social studies teacher at YASD. He was born and raised in Gilbert, Arizona. He has been married for 41 year and has seven children and sixteen grandchildren. Paul owned and operated a truck until he was about 30 years old, and then moved on to work for an asphalt supply company for seven years. At the age of 37, he decided to go back to school and graduated at the age of 40 with a teaching certificate. At the age of 58, he received his Master’s degree in administration. He lived and taught in Alaska for four years, and still has a home there. Before coming to the Yavapai Accommodation School District, he taught for three years on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Fun fact: Paul has driven the Alcan Highway four times.
Born in Mexico, but Ash Fork, Arizona raised – Evelina Acosta, an otherwise mild mannered child, escaped all of the pitfalls of growing up in a small town. With the ever present spectra of succumbing to peer pressure or playing sports, she hit the field – conquering team sports such as volleyball and softball. To prepare for her role teaching, she also mastered powerlifting.
You’d like to think those active days of youth are behind her, but she has trained horses, had two children, and earned an associates degree in criminal justice. Evelina decided go into teaching, another relatively difficult sport. She finished her degree at GCU, certifying in elementary education and special education. A former power lifter, accelerated by the weight of her studies, she emerged as a super teacher – simply known as Acosta.
Ms. Acosta worked at Tolleson Elementary for two years before her transition to YASD. There she honed her Spanish speaking skills to accelerate student learning in English and she developed her calm superhero demeanor that our students have come to know as the ‘Mama Acosta”. She knows her way around paper work and moves mounds of it in a single bound – rightly so after being the executive assistant at Ash Fork schools for about 4745 days. Being an educational power lifting superhero, she moves students towards academic goals with a single bound. Walking into a classroom, she instantly calms the masses with her teacher stare.
Able to fix things around her house just by staring at them, she spends her non teaching time being mild mannered Evelina just hanging out with family in the country listening to the silence in her superhero crystal palace (which has crickets, bugs, snakes, rodents, and dirt) – There she says, “. .. Is where I work my magic. . .”
Ms. Lori Nicholas is a Montana woman where they are grown tough! “Ms. Nic” to students, she just turned 61 years old. She was a bit of a late bloomer, choosing to work as a sawyer and crane operator for Kaiser Aluminum until she was 28 years old. She got laid off (so grateful) and decided to go to college. She had an eighth grade Algebra instructor, Jean Schlatter, and she was the smartest women Ms. Nic had ever met. She admired her so much, along with her love for numbers and Nature, that she became motivated to become a math and science teacher myself. She graduated with Honors and degrees in Mathematics and Biology. She has since taught 5 years in middle school, 15 years in high school and 7 years at a Community College. This is her 28th year. She is so proud to be part of Yavapai Accommodation SD 99!
For her, mathematics equates with nature. She is thrilled to be in the Prescott, AZ area. “The hiking around here is great and so is the weather!” She hikes with her dogs and is always amazed by the new flora and fauna she sees. She exclaims, “You all have some big bugs here!”
She wouldn’t go back and trade her years of teaching for anything. She has learned so much from the students she has worked with over the years, she feels like she’s the luckiest teacher ever and a student forever!
Mr. John Steward was born in Woodward, Oklahoma, and basically grew up there until 7th grade. He and his family then moved to Prescott, AZ, where they have lived since 1957.
He graduated from Prescott High School in 1966, attended University of Arizona for one year on a football scholarship and then Vietnam Nam happened and he joined the Navy in 1968. He was stationed in San Diego for 2 years. He enrolled full time at ASU in 1971, and graduated with a BA degree in Health Education and Physical Education in 1972. Mr. Steward started his teaching career in 1972 at Dysart Junior/Senior High School. He received his M.ED in Educational Counseling from NAU in 1975, and he has been a junior and senior high school counselor for the rest of his educational career with a 2 year stint in teaching PE at Prescott High School. He retired from Prescott High school after 20 years of service. He served on the Prescott City Council for 6 years.
He has lived in Prescott for most of his life, but moved back for good in 1993. He is not currently married but has 3 wonderful children from his previous marriage. All of his children are successful and in great health. He is very blessed. He also has a German Shepherd named Bailey and she is the guardian of the house. She believes she is a princess. You could say she is spoiled.
Currently Mr, Steward is the teacher at the Transition School, which is a program of Aspire High School. He tries to live everyday to the max and give back to his community and to education as much as he can.
Born and raised in Arizona, Chad Grendell started his career early as a young diamond buyer for one of the world’s largest retail jewelers, earning certificates diamontology and gemology through the Gemological Institute of America. He then moved to Austin, TX to further his career. With years in the field under his belt, he felt it was time for a change. On a whim, he moved to Southern California and began his new venture as a sales and finance manager with Harley-Davidson, a life long passion. Years of riding and racing motorcycles and dirtbikes had taken a toll on his body so he decided he was ready to move back to the state he had called home for so many years and take a break. Shortly after moving back to AZ he met his wife and they moved to their small ranch in Williamson Valley where they have way too many large dogs and enjoy their Clydesdale horses. Together, they have owned a handful of small businesses around the Prescott area and continue to support their children in their own business ventures.
Chad enjoys spending time with his 3 grandchildren which makes him sound and feel older than he really is. He can be found most weekends at various hockey arenas around the US and Arizona taking in the game he enjoys so much.
Almost three years ago, he was asked by his friend to consider a job with YASD. She knew he would be a perfect person to help start a new transition program working with Yavapai County youth on probation developed to help them not only get caught up with their high school credits, but to also provide mentorship and understanding along the way. His dedication to his job and students has been a tremendous asset and invaluable gift to the youth in our community.