Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award & Hiremath Student Integrity Prize

These Integrity Awards go to a teacher and a student at Ironwood Ridge High School and University High School each year.

Nine years ago, Reverend James 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. In his effort to honor teachers and students, Briney created the Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award and the Hiremath Student Integrity Prize through a fund established at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona in 2014.

Veteran signing student's VHP book "Since You Asked"

Veteran signing student’s VHP book “Since You Asked” at Ironwood Ridge High School

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 submits an essay about integrity. The fund has grown over time and is slated to be awarded in perpetuity “for so long as there is integrity associated with the selection process” according to Reverend Briney. He and his wife Sandy, have established projects like this in 5 schools across the country, two of which are located in Arizona.

In February 2019, University High School in Tucson became the second school to facilitate and present both awards at a school assembly. “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.

(Left to Right) Lou Waters (former Vice Mayor of Oro Valley), Reverend James Briney (Award Founder), Emily Pickard (2019 Ironwood Ridge Hiremath Student Integrity Prize Recipient), and Dr. Satish Hiremath, (former Mayor of Oro Valley.

If you would like to support these awards, you can donate now.



Lori Gipson, Excellent Educator Recognition Award (Ironwood Ridge) 

Emily Pickard, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize (Ironwood Ridge) 

Whitney Sheets, Excellent Educator Recognition Award (University High) 

Chet Oreck, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize (University High) 


Christopher Rohrer, Excellent Educator Recognition Award

Joanna Mona, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize


Mark Hodge, Excellent Educator Recognition Award

Kelsey Abel, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize


Ryan Maish, Excellent Educator Recognition Award

Sydney Baumgardner, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize


Nicole Blanchard, Excellent Educator Recognition Award

Patrick Klass, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize


Rebecca Scheel, Excellent Educator Recognition Award

Kyle Taylor, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize


Don Dickinson, Excellent Educator Recognition Award

This is a closed nomination process. To learn more, please contact Enedina Miller at emiller@cfsaz.org or (520)770-0800 Ext. 7111.