Three staff members recognized for excellence in their positions

Submitted by Madeline Farrell
Caitlin Munguia, visual arts teacher, is surprised with balloons and flowers, presented to her by Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver, CEO of Confluence Charter Schools.

Paisley Regester, Staff Writer

Three teachers have been recognized by Confluence Charter Schools for their excellence in their positions and service at GCAA. These winners are Caitlin Munguia, awarded GCAA High School Educator of the Year, Melissa Sasser, awarded GCAA Support Staff Member of the Year, and Denise Pranger, awarded both GCAA Middle School Educator of the Year and Confluence’s Educator of the Year.

Teams led by building principals chose the staff members to be recognized, and a few weeks ago, the winning members were surprised in their classrooms with balloons and flowers.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all, so I was a little caught off guard”, said Caitlin Munguia. “After having some time to reflect, I feel completely humbled and grateful. I’m surrounded by incredible teachers, so to even be considered is crazy!” These staff members were also honored at an All Staff Professional Development Day on April 13th, where it was announced that Pranger had won Confluence’s Educator of the Year award alongside Jennifer Luker from Confluence Preparatory Academy. 

These award-winning teacher and staff members agreed that the students of GCAA are what make their jobs the most rewarding. Munguia, who has been working at GCAA for three years, said, “The thing that obviously makes my job so rich is the students. It is the most accepting environment with remarkably talented kids. I’m really close with my students and I love getting to watch them grow into amazing humans.”

Denise Pranger, when asked about her favorite part of working at GCAA, replied “I love the kids. They are so unique and so much fun, and every day is a different experience.”

Melissa Sasser, who has worked at GCAA for five years, shared similar sentiments. “My favorite thing about working here is the students”, she said.  “The diversity, and getting to know the personalities of each of the kids is one of the best parts of the job.”

Receiving these awards has also reinforced the honoree’s confidences when it comes to the impact of their work on the school’s community. Munguia appreciates the extensive amount of creative freedom she has within her classes, and is relieved to know that this creativity and hard work is paying off. “I am consistently changing my curriculum to keep kids engaged in current events, fresh ideas, and authentic learning,” she said. “This award means a lot to me, mostly because I never dreamed of this achievement myself, so for others to see that in me is affirming.”

Pranger comments on a similar sense of validation, while also recognizing the other staff members who contribute to the unique environment at GCAA. “It’s neat because receiving the award confirms your hard work and is a reward for that, but at the same time, I think there are so many people that are deserving of it, so it’s an honor to have it,” she said.