Rhonda Warren – Winner of AZ. Dept. of Education Teacher of the Year Award

RhondaVail’s TSW program is a lighthouse for Arizona as it has exploded from 20 students making copies and filing in 2009 to 180 students working in countless different vocations with a budget growth from $100,000 to over $700,000. Vail’s students employ their own strengths, talents, and passions working at TJ Max, Safeway, in assisted living facilities, at Discount Tire as automotive technicians, with landscaping crews, in thrift store, etc. Vail further collects 96% of its students’ PSO surveys compared to Arizona’s 70%. Further, districts across Arizona visit to learn how to improve. What makes Vail’s TSW so successful? It’s coordinator, Rhonda Warren, models the key that makes any person successful… the power of relationships.

Vail TSW students enjoy successful relationships with staff, the VR, and the community because of Rhonda’s work to build those relationships. Rhonda has gone to Phoenix to fight for VR funding when threatened. She was even invited to join the VR’s interviewing committee for new counselors! And, Rhonda uses the power of those relationships to maximize funding from VR that funds our staff, supplies, materials, and student tuition for Pima Community College and the SALT Center at UA.

Vail has seen the fruits of Rhonda’s community relationships with a partnership with Vail’s new thrift store. VR pitched in to help fund its set up and 15 students are employed there. Vail residents know our TSW students, and public perception of students with disabilities has changed… and students are experiencing success in professions well after high school.

Congratulations, Rhonda, on this well deserved honor!Rhonda1