The 2014-15 school year brings a fresh start to children returning to their academic lives as well as some new faces at some of the top posts in area schools. Below is a summary of the new hires and new jobs taking place this school year.
Madison School District
The Madison Governing Board has named Quinn Kellis as the new superintendent of the Madison School District.
Kellis has more than 24 years of experience in education as a classroom teacher, middle school principal, and district administrator in the Dysart and Deer Valley school districts. An Arizona native, Kellis earned degrees from Arizona State University, Chapman University, and Brigham Young University. He has served as president of the Arizona School Administrators Educational Services Division, been a member of several school and district evaluation teams for AdvancED, and has presented at state and national conferences.
When asked about his educational focus, Kellis stated, “As an ambassador for children, I will make certain that every student has access to high level curriculum in a safe school.”
Kellis is the superintendent of Madison Schools effective July 1. Those interested in Madison Schools can find out more at MadisonAZ.org.
Osborn School District
Osborn School District will have a change in leadership, but not in direction as Dr. Wilma Basnett retires and Patricia Tate, former assistant superintendent, moves up to the top spot.
During her 28 years in Osborn (26 as superintendent), Basnett has “walked the walk” as a collaborative decision maker, trustworthy steward of Osborn’s resources, and passionate supporter of public education. Affectionately known among staff as “Dr. B”, her composure in difficult situations was equally matched by her quick wit and spot-on sense of humor.
Basnett in 2009 was honored as the Arizona Superintendent of the Year. More than 30,000 children have benefited from her unwavering commitment to provide high-quality curriculum and instruction in safe, beautiful schools conducive to learning.
Tate assumed the role of Superintendent on July 1, having served as assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for the past 14 years. She is a native Arizonan, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Arizona State University, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Arizona. A recipient of the Presidential Award for Science Teaching, she has also served as Adjunct Faculty at ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership.
Phoenix Christian High School
Valley native Stefan Demos takes the helm of the football program at Phoenix Christian High School this fall after former coach Brandon Harris left to take a coaching job in Florida.
Demos played football while at Horizon High School and at Northwestern University, and retired from the Arena Football League last year as a member of the San Antonio Talons.
Phoenix Christian recently moved up from Division 4 play to Division 3.
Phoenix Country Day School
Lisa Culbertson will be the next Head of Upper School at Phoenix Country Day School, beginning July 1.
Culbertson grew up in Dallas and attended the Hockaday School before moving on to Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences, where she majored in Government.
After a brief stint on Wall Street, Culbertson determined that her heart was not in finance—it was in education, where she could have a dramatic effect in the classroom and as an administrator. Culbertson ultimately found herself back in Texas, where she taught mathematics and served as Dean of Students at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin.
Her work at St. Andrew’s led her to Columbia University, where she will receive her M.Ed., from the prestigious Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, with a major in Private School Leadership.
Phoenix Union High School District
Michelle Gayles has been named the assistant superintendent of Operations for the district. She began her assignment on July 14.
Gayles will supervise the operations division, including technology and information services, research, facility maintenance and operations, facility rentals and transportation. She takes over for Nora Gutierrez, who retired after serving as an assistant superintendent for Operations for six years, and Human Resources for four years in her 15-year Phoenix Union career.
Gayles previously was the vice president of Community Impact for the Valley of the Sun United Way. She has served in the health and human services sector for nearly 20 years, managing operations, innovation and technology, and strategic planning.
But she is no stranger to education in Phoenix, working on several education-related projects such as Degree Phoenix, Destination Graduation, Arizona College Access Network, College Depot, Arizona Ready High School Graduation Task Force, Arizona’s First Things First, and Thriving Together. These initiatives focus on student academic success, youth readiness for post-secondary education and career.
In addition, Central and Camelback High Schools will have new principals this school year, as the previous principals move to district administrative roles.
John Biera Jr. will take the helm at Central and Dr. Quintin Boyce moves from Bioscience to Camelback, effective July 1. Biera comes to Phoenix Union from Scottsdale Unified School District, where he has been a high school principal for the past 12 years—10 at Coronado and two at Arcadia. His public education career spans 32 years, including 20 as an administrator in Arizona and Texas.
Boyce has been principal at Bioscience for two years, and taught science at Bioscience and South Mountain in the district for six years and three years in Atlanta previous to his move to administration.
Former Camelback Principal Dr. Chad Gestson will become the district’s first Director of School Leadership. Chris Jones from Central will move to the district’s Curriculum Division.
Mark Bistricky took over as the new Head of School for Tesseract as of July 1. Tesseract is an independent school with campuses in Paradise Valley and Phoenix.
Bistricky previously was head of school at Valley Christian High School in Chandler. During his three-year tenure, Bistricky incorporated a mindset of professional excellence in all aspects of the school’s operation, increased academic rigor by embracing research-based best practices in every classroom to support student learning and teaching in every subject area and increased enrollment by almost 20 percent from 2012 to 2013.
Bistricky, a native of Arizona, has 10 years of education leadership experience in both California and Arizona. He is a graduate of Santa Clara University (Master of Arts, Ed. Admin.), University of Arizona (Master of Arts, History) and Whittier College (BA, History). He is married and has two daughters.
Xavier College Prep
Kelley Conrad has been named as Xavier College Preparatory’s new varsity head swim coach. Previously serving as assistant swim coach at the Scottsdale Aquatic Club, Conrad was formerly a fifth-year coach for the New Mexico State University Swim Team and assistant swim coach for Gold’s Aquatics Club in the Seattle area.
Conrad earned a full scholarship to New Mexico State University, where she held six school swimming records, served as captain of the swimming and diving team, was a Western Athletic Conference finalist all four years, Athlete of the Week three times, and a Coach’s Award recipient twice. She was also a Dean’s List student, an Outstanding Student, Student of the Year, and a four-time Academic All-Western Athletic Conference honoree.
Conrad comes to Xavier with an impressive resume, excellent recommendations, and contagious enthusiasm. She looks forward to leading the Xavier team in its quest for the state championship title in November.