Arizona-based Four Peaks Brewing Co.
The innovative Four Peaks for Teachers charitable campaign, conceived in 2011 by Four Peaks co-founder Jim Scussel, was created to help reduce the financial burden on teachers in the Southwest who often purchase supplies for their classrooms and are never reimbursed. By earmarking a portion of sales of its flagship Scottish-Style Amber Ale, Kilt Lifter, and direct, tax-deductible donations, Four Peaks purchases supplies and creates pre-packaged kits of essential items for classrooms. These kits include paper reams, pencils, pens and dry erase markers, post-it notes, local retailer coupons and more. Kits are distributed annually every summer prior to the new school year.
“We all felt we needed to do more to support teachers. So, for our 11th year running the campaign, we expanded the program to recognize 11 exemplary teachers,” Scussel said. “Our grant competition was open to teachers nationwide, even in states that don’t carry our beer yet.”
We were overwhelmed by the responses we received,” he said. “It validated our belief that teachers need more support. The number of nominations we received and the stories that were shared had a profound impact on us. It was very difficult to choose just 11 teachers for the grants.”
Over a period of several months, Four Peaks received 1,255 submissions from across the country written by students, parents and colleagues nominating their favorite deserving teacher to be considered for a $1,000 grant.
Congratulations to the 2022 Four Peaks for Teachers $1,000 Grant Winners:
Jennifer Malecha is a Math teacher at Canyon Springs STEM Academy in Anthem, Arizona. She was self-nominated saying the following “We are currently working through a book study at my school for building-thinking classrooms in Mathematics. I would love to be able to purchase some vertical non-permanent writing surfaces. In doing so, it would provide my students with the ability to think at a higher level while collaborating with their peers. Thank you.” She plans on using her funds to purchase more dry erase boards to facilitate “building-thinking” classrooms.
Gypsi Gover is a 2nd grade teacher at Indian Wells Elementary School in Indian Wells, Arizona. She was nominated by a friend saying the following “Miss Gover gives her all everyday. She is always coming up with creative ways to teach the kids. She was such an amazing role model for my daughter. She gave her the confidence to reach her potential. She is alwaying spending her money to make sure the students are taken care of. There are not enough words to express how amazing Miss Gover is.” She plans on using her funds to purchase supplies that will assist in literacy through small group instruction.
Maria Henry is a Special Education teacher at Justine Spitalny School in Phoenix, Arizona. She was nominated by a friend saying the following “Maria has for over 25 years put her heart and entire soul into teaching our inner city kids in the very lucky to have her at theCartwright School district. Maria organizes events, writes grants, buys books, and does a million other things for the school using her own time and money. Of course, this is on top of her regular teacher assigned duties. Mrs. Henry does these things to help assure our students have the same types of experiences that other children in our state have. For many, this has been and will be the only chance that they have these life experiences that were/are brought to them by Mrs. Henry. She also provides unique experiences to our teachers/staff as well. There are just too many to name here but include many community partnerships, sports group, charities, etc, state wide. ( Free field trips, reading nights, guest speakers, and school events and activities far beyond the imagination) I have even been, “Wowed” by certain events brought to our school.” She plans on using her funds to create a calm-down corner for her classroom.
Rebekah Rumsey is a 1st grade teacher at Burch Creek Elementary in South Ogden, Utah. She was nominated by various caring friends and teachers, saying the following “This teacher has gone above and beyond to not only help the students with their learning but to check on their mental/emotional health as well. She loves her students very much and you can tell by how she teaches them! She plans on using her funds to purchase flexible seating for her classroom as well as hands-on math manipulative.
Stephanie Riley is a Latin teacher at Tempe Prepatory Academy in Tempe, Arizona. She was self-nominated saying the following “We just moved here last year from Texas. So far, Arizona has been very welcoming and this grant could help establish a love for the classical languages in young kids. The money would be used to fund rewards for student participation and excellence as well as help less fortunate students with supplies and extra items to help their education and development.” She plans on using her funds to purchase flash cards and invest in an VR headset, so students can take tours around ancient sites from around the world.
Michele Goldberg is a 5th grade teacher at J.B. Sutton Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona. She was nominated by various caring friends and teachers, saying the following “Michele is a dedicated teacher; she has been committed to the student’s education for more than 20 years I think Michele deserves this award because she has become one of the most important teachers in our school, she has brought her team together and help them achieve their goals. Michele is one of the most knowledgeable and smart teachers I know, and one of the most important this I can say about her is the connection that she creates with her students. She is a strict and structured teacher, and that makes the students feel cared about. I can say with confidence that every student that steps in her classroom is going to remember Michele as an amazing person and teacher.” She plans on using her funds to purchase more books for her classroom, to make reading come alive for her students.
Laura Ceballos-Gonzalez is a 5st grade bilingual teacher at La Mesa Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was nominated by a caring friend, saying the following “Ms. Gonzales is a dedicated teacher who bring energy and a true love of learning to the classroom and into her students lives. She engages parents to support the learning in the classroom.l by providing information in English and Spanish. She has spent thousands of dollars just to be able to teach in schools with the neediest of populations. She puts so much into her teaching to make learning relevant and meaningful. She continues to teach in class and remotely for students who miss schools due to quarantine. She sends packets of materials home so her students can have the same learning supplies they have in school. She does community outreach to organizations throughout the area so her students can have the same opportunities that others students who are not in poverty have. She continues to learn and trains new and upcoming teachers in her classroom. She is truly deserving of this award. She uses the latest methodology to reach all learners especially newcomers to the U.S.” She plans on using her funds to purchase additional materials for her classroom, such as: science projects and materials for graduation.
Jadyn Vigil is a 1st grade teacher at Collet Park Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was nominated by a caring friend, saying the following “Jadyn entered into the teaching profession during the pandemic knowing that students were going to need an enormous amount of social emotional and academic support as they entered back into the classroom as first graders, never having had a normal year of school. She shared with me her plans for helping her students which included daily meditation/yoga practice, areas in which students can self-regulate, and incorporating social emotional learning into every subject. As she shared with me her successes of her student’s friendships and growth in their personal development, I felt incredibly proud. I am advocating her to receive this grant to continue leading her students down the road of success with not just academics but their mental health and social relationships, which prove to be so incredibly important in the world. If I can think of anyone to deserve this grant, I think of my friend, Jadyn Vigil.” She plans on using her funds to purchase additional materials for her classroom, such as: STEM activites such as the Rockin Robots Stem Set!
Zaira Figueroa is a Math teacher at Whittier Middle School in Phoenix, Arizona. She was self-nominated, saying the following “I absolutely love what I do, I love my kids and the school! I try my best to fill in the needs of my students and to teach them with my hear” She plans on using her funds to purchase scientific calculators and table centers with basic supplies for her students.
Lorin Ybarra is a 1st Grade teacher at Alamosa Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was nominated by a caring friend, saying the following “Lorin strives to make sure her students are having the best learning experience they can possibly have. She is always engaged with her class and makes sure she is doing what is best for the students. From previous conversations we have had, she always has her class on her mind. In the early years, it is crucial for every student to have a teacher like Lorin. I wish I would have had a teacher like her at that young of an age!” She plans on using her funds to purchase additional materials for her classroom, such as: seeds, soil, modeling clay, and pillow seats for her book nook.
Melisa Silva is a Special Needs teacher at Webster Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona. She was nominated by various caring friends and teachers, saying the following “She is an amazing teacher to her autistic students! My son was in her class beginning 1st grade up until 4th grade. He wouldn’t speak and couldn’t read. By the end of 3rd grade he could do both. Her patience is amazing and the love and effort she puts into her students doesn’t go unseen. She’s also amazing in how she includes and explains to families her plan and process for each student. I’m thankful for her.” She plans on using her funds to purchase sensory-friendly decor and incentives for students for a new program roll-out this year.
Nicole Gould is an English teacher at Corona del Sol in Tempe, Arizona. She was self-nominated saying the following “Stand up if you love English!!! Each year, I ask this question on the first day of school, and if I’m being honest, not many high school students get out of their chairs. If I’m being 100% honest, I don’t stand up either. Grammar rules, long outdated literature studies, and memorization of vocabulary are simply not my jam!! But creative connections between life and literature, student-centered choice in books, and using English class and lessons to form connections with students is totally my thing. My students create more than just essays in class. They are stretched to think beyond the margins of the page. They move around the room exploring content and classmates in order to gain the perspectives that are the bigger pictures than what’s in the textbook. More than anything, they know I’ll do anything for them. This grant would allow me to simply give them more of the stuff that makes my class more than an hour of class a day!” She plans on using her funds to purchase flexible seating options to encourage collaboration in her classroom.
Congratulations to the 2021 Four Peaks for Teachers $1,000 Grant Winners:
Andrea Perez – Thew Elementary School, 3rd Grade Tempe, Arizona
“Ms. Perez inspires hope through her daily actions and ability to connect with others. She takes time to build relationships with families to get to know each student’s individual situation to best support them. She listens and responds in meaningful and helpful ways as soon as she learns of a family or student that is struggling.”
Ashley Kuproski – Haley Elementary, 6th Grade Chandler, Arizona
“Ms. Kuproski is an amazing teacher. She is always smiling and showing love to her students. She is passionate and caring and teaches to the students as individuals, not just as a whole. She also runs an after-school STEM program. Every student who has her is blessed.”
Cindy Robinson – Az Liberty School Dist. 25, Principal/Teacher Buckeye, Arizona
“Cindy Robinson is a teacher who goes out of her way to make sure her students have the supplies they need to learn. She uses her own money to purchase supplies, and this is expensive for a teacher.”
Taylor Stevens – ASU Prep Academy, Language Pathology Phoenix, Arizona
“Taylor works for ASU Prep and desperately needs the funds to create and implement a direct reading intervention program to support students from low-income families. Taylor lives for her special needs students and finds creative ways to meet their needs and challenges as many may slip through the system without an education that is geared for their special needs. I believe Taylor will implement a program that will gain support and recognition from local, regional and state ED agencies.”
Alicia McKenzie – Mission Manor, 5th Grade Tucson, Arizona
“There’s not a better candidate than Mrs. McKenzie! Not only is she such a good teacher, but the way she goes above and beyond making sure her students have what they need, in the classroom and at home, is so incredible. When Mission Manor Elementary did not have enough staff for a student council, Alicia made sure she made that happen because to her, it’s important that the kids have something to look forward to and stay educated, especially in a low-income neighborhood. Outside of school, she has even set up a small backpack drive that was so successful, they were donated to the school and kept in the front office for kids that ever needed them. Even with the pandemic, Mrs. McKenzie was dropping off supplies and snacks to family’s doorsteps anytime they were in need.”
Christi Jones – Coolidge High School, 9-12 Grade Art & 7-8 Grade Technology Coolidge, Arizona
“I’ve known Christi Jones for years and am inspired by her dedication and commitment to her students. She consistently puts in both additional hours and her own money to ensure that her students have a well-rounded curriculum. She goes above and beyond by frequently organizing contests, prizes, and opportunities for others to donate to her students. Through the pandemic, she probably spent more time than ever making sure the online curriculum for her students was engaging, and she truly cares about each of her students.”
Beth Anne Merida – Mount Carmel Academy, 8-12 Grade Math New Orleans, Louisiana
“Ms. Merida is a life-changing teacher. She always encourages and supports her students. I could not imagine my junior year without her as my math teacher. She loves her job and students, and her students love her back. There is no one else who deserves this award except for Ms. Merida. She is one of my biggest role models. In her class, I learned that I wanted to major in math just like she did. She helped me realize that I belong with math, and I will never know how to thank her enough. She is a true inspiration, and the best teacher I have ever learned from.”
Doreen Hayden – Lowell Elementary School, 4th Grade Albuquerque, New Mexico
“Mrs. Hayden is the most hardworking and dedicated teacher. The time and effort that she puts into each one of her students is extraordinary. I am immensely grateful to have had her as my 4th grade teacher several years ago. Not only did she inspire me to achieve my goals, but she incorporated many useful activities/programs that helped me grow as a student as well as a person. One of the many things I had learned from her class is the importance of education. Mrs. Hayden always found a way to make learning fun. She continues to inspire kids by kindling their desire to learn so that they can achieve great things. I truly hope Mrs. Hayden gets nominated; I cannot think of a more deserving and hardworking teacher. The fact that she is trying to win school supplies for her students says a lot about her selflessness and her passion for teaching.”
Maria Perez-Luna – Centennial High School, 9th Grade Las Cruces, New Mexico
“Mrs. Pérez-Luna gives 110% every single day. What makes her truly a spectacular teacher is how she makes a connection with every student she meets. Not only does she teach ninth grade English, she also is able to help students that have special education needs. She always makes sure she has meaningful curriculum that also engages student who aren’t into English or school for that matter. She really makes everyone feel welcome and comfortable in her classroom. I nominate Maria Perez-Luna because of her passion and love for teaching.”
Lamonte Russell – Liberty High School, Choir Director Henderson, Nevada
“As the years go by, Mr. Russell continues to go above and beyond for his students. He did not view a year of remote learning as a roadblock, but as an opportunity to think outside of the box. Last summer, prior to the start of the school year, he created an extra-curricular, virtual master’s class series named “Conversations With…”. Drawing from several decades of performing, he scheduled one-on-one virtual meetings between his students and well-known singers, performers, musicians and educators. These individuals discussed their careers and provided insights to the students, but more importantly, the students were given the opportunity to ask questions live. This kind of opportunity would be immeasurable any other time, and it was even more so during a pandemic where students often felt isolated and out-of-touch. What will Mr. Russell think of next?”
Nita Andrew – C.S. Lewis Academy, Kindergarten Santaquin, Utah
“Mrs. Andrew has a great imagination and a lot of ideas to help these littles love to learn. This will be her first year of teaching kindergarten, but she has been preparing and bouncing ideas off everyone for years! She could use this grant to help turn her classroom into a world of imagination!”