Kelly McGarity

Teacher at Marana Middle

Several Marana Unified School District educators and staffers earned awards or certifications last month. All honorees have dedicated themselves to their schools, their district and in turn, the Marana community

Dondi Luce, Twin Peaks Elementary principal, is a finalist for the 2018 Woman of Influence Awards. Luce has been ranked in the top three in the Education Champion category. Luce will be honored as a finalist at a special dinner and awards event on Wednesday, March 7, where the first place winner will be announced. Tucson Local Media publication Inside Tucson Business has been honoring outstanding women in the local community annually since 2004.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards announced that Kelly McGarity, a social studies teacher at Marana Middle School who has worked in the Marana Unified School District since 2001, has received national certification in generalist/middle childhood. Sarah Ross from Marana High School also received national certification in Music/Early Adolescence Through Young Adulthood.

National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential in which teachers have met the profession’s highest standards and have the knowledge and skills necessary to advance student learning. Similar to certification in fields like medicine, National Board Certification is a rigorous, peer-reviewed process that ensures that Board-certified teachers have proven skills to advance student achievement.

Aimee Katz, DeGrazia Elementary School teacher, is one of two teachers in Tucson nominated for the prestigious 2017-2018 LifeChanger of the Year award. This is not only exciting news for DeGrazia Elementary but for the entire district. LifeChanger is a national program which recognizes educators for the positive difference they make in the lives of their students, for being a leader in the school community, for exemplifying excellence as an educator and for creating a nurturing atmosphere in our schools.

Beth DeWeerdt was selected as the Marana Unified School District’s Teacher of the Year. DeWeerdt is in her tenth year teaching in MUSD, and is regarded as an outstanding educator and a leader by her peers. Her exemplary teaching at Quail Run Elementary is evident in her work with students, in her support of colleagues and in her positive outlook on life.

Dena Reninger, Tortolita Middle School Counseling Secretary, was named the 2018 Support Staff of the Year. Christina Noriega, MUSD Family Resource Coordinator, was the 2018 Exempt Employee of the Year.

James Attebery was been selected as a finalist for the 24th annual Arizona Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Circle K Corporation “Outstanding High School Faculty Awards Program,” which honors outstanding high school teachers in Southern Arizona. He was honored at a pre-game recognition ceremony at the Arizona men’s basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 27. He will also be recognized at a special Awards Banquet held at the UA Hall of Champions on Friday, March 2, where the Teacher of the Year will be announced.

This story originally ran in, and is part of the Marana Newsroom, which can be found online at

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