Collage of award recipients in the following order: Janet, Camila, Marcos, and Ben.

CFSA Announces 2020 Educator & Student Integrity Award Recipients

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona is pleased to announce the 2020 Waters Excellent Educator Award was received by Ironwood Ridge Hill teacher, Janet Ackerman, and University High School teacher, Marcos Flores. The 2020 Hiremath Student Integrity Prize was received by Ironwood Ridge High School student, Ben Hernandez, and University High School student, Camila Grubb.

The Waters Excellent Educator Award and Hiremath Student Integrity Prize was established in 2014 through a fund held at CFSA by Reverend James Briney and his wife, Sandy, after Reverend Briney attended a Veteran’s Day assembly at Ironwood Ridge High School. He felt inspired by the exchange between the veterans who had fought for our freedoms and the educators and students who were now exercising those freedoms in an atmosphere of learning.

The fund awards a cash prize each to both an educator nominated by colleagues for their excellence and authentic inspiration to students, and a student who demonstrates a commitment to integrity.

Prize recipient, Ben Hernandez, shared, “Winning this award is proof that hard work does indeed pay off. I am very grateful for being chosen and I hope that integrity continues to play an important role in my life and the lives of future recipients, especially in a world so deprived of integrity.”

Janet Ackerman, Ironwood Ridge Hill teacher and award recipient, shared, “It is a humbling experience to receive this award and it is truly an honor and a privilege to work with the students and staff at Ironwood Ridge High School.”

In February 2019, University High School in Tucson became the second school to facilitate and present both awards at a school assembly. The colleagues of University High School teacher and award recipient, Marcos Flores, shared, “Marcos goes above and beyond to serve his students by making house calls, holding kids accountable, and showing up for them every day. He constantly models what it means to be accountable, responsible, empathetic, strong, caring and willing to learn.”

“The important thing is that you recognize the presence of integrity when you look in the mirror,” shared Reverend Briney, who hopes to see the awards become models for even more high schools in the future in an effort to recognize excellent teachers and students who explore the notion of integrity.


Learn more about the Waters Excellent Educator Award and Hiremath Student Integrity Prize, and see the list of past recipients, here.