At a Veteran’s Day assembly at Ironwood Ridge High School, Reverend James Briney was 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, Reverend Briney created the Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award and the Hiremath Student Integrity Prize through the Excellent Educator & Student Integrity Fund established at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona in 2014.

The fund awards a cash prize to both an educator nominated by colleagues for their excellence and authentic inspiration to students, and to a student who submits an essay about integrity. “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.

The Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award honors the career of Lou Waters, who has dedicated his life to informing and educating our community, our nation, and the world. Educators at Ironwood Ridge High School and University High School are eligible for the Waters Award, based on their devotion and competence.


Congratulations to Paul DesJarlais, the 2021 Waters Award recipient from Ironwood Ridge High School!

To be recognized by my peers and receive the “Waters Excellent Educator Recognition” award is an honor, and very humbling. As the previous winners of the award were read, I truly felt a sense of awe to be included in their company. I am blessed to be able to teach content that I love, physics, in a great school, Ironwood Ridge High School, and with many dedicated and passionate peers. To add this award on top of all that produces an overflowing sense of thankfulness for all those who have helped me be the teacher that I am.

— Paul DesJarlais, Physics & Astronomy Teacher, Science Department Chair, Ironwood Ridge High School
Past Award Recipients

2021

  • Paul DesJarlais, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award (Ironwood Ridge)
  • Maisey Stephens, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize (Ironwood Ridge) 

2020

  • Janet Ackerman, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award (Ironwood Ridge)
  • Ben Hernandez, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize (Ironwood Ridge) 
  • Marcos Flores, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award (University High) 
  • Camila Grubb, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize (University High) 

2019

  • Lori Gipson, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award (Ironwood Ridge) 
  • Emily Pickard, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize (Ironwood Ridge) 
  • Whitney Sheets, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award (University High) 
  • Chet Oreck, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize (University High) 

2018

  • Christopher Rohrer, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award
  • Joanna Mona, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize

2017

  • Mark Hodge, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award
  • Kelsey Abel, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize

2016 

  • Ryan Maish, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award
  • Sydney Baumgardner, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize

2015

  • Nicole Blanchard, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award
  • Patrick Klass, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize

2014

  • Rebecca Scheel, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award
  • Kyle Taylor, Hiremath Student Integrity Prize

2013

  • Don Dickinson, Waters Excellent Educator Recognition Award
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