54 Mesa teachers granted $2,500 wishes

Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities presents grants

Posted 11/13/21

Some 400 teachers across Arizona were recently granted their wishes, including 54 from Mesa.

During the first days of November, in what has become an annual tradition to honor, support and …

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54 Mesa teachers granted $2,500 wishes

Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities presents grants


Some 400 teachers across Arizona were recently granted their wishes, including 54 from Mesa.

During the first days of November, in what has become an annual tradition to honor, support and celebrate Arizona’s teachers, the Fiesta Bowl Organization awarded $1 million to teachers through the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program, according to a release.

“They may not wear capes, but teachers are real-life superheroes. They give tirelessly to their students and ‘Wishes for Teachers’ is our opportunity to reward them for their efforts,” Jeff Meshey, president and CEO at Desert Financial, said in the release. “Desert Financial was founded by teachers — we continue their legacy by returning as the title partner for this year’s Wishes for Teachers, in partnership with Fiesta Bowl Charities. Teachers often pay for school supplies out of their own pockets, so there’s no greater way to express our gratitude than by granting their classroom wishes.”

Through a three-day Virtual Draft Day presented by Salt River Project, 400 teachers from K-12 schools were each given $2,500 to grant a wish in their classrooms. The winners were chosen based on a program in the fall wherein any Arizona K-12 teacher was able to fill out an online application detailing a school or classroom need. The wishes were then verified and selected by random drawing for teachers to receive a grant. Over the six years of the program, Fiesta Bowl Wishes for Teachers has granted $4.7 million to more than 1,200 Arizona teachers, impacting more than 500,000 children across the state.

“I love Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Draft Day presented by SRP, it is so exciting when we call each teacher to let them know their name was selected as a grant recipient,” said Patrick Barkley, chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors, said in the release. “Wishes for Teachers is well-known around the state as the preeminent program for teacher support. My mom was a teacher, and we all know teachers who inspire us with their selfless work.”

This year, the 400 teachers represent 300 schools in 63 cities across the state, teaching more than 200,000 students in 84 districts over 75 subjects, from social studies to special education, literature to leadership, music to math.

Through the program, here is just a sampling of classroom wishes being granted:

  • Mike Peterson, a math teacher at Red Mountain High School, will do a room makeover to include motivational murals and acoustic tiles.
  • Amanda Buckley, a band teacher at Highland Arts Elementary, will purchase instruments for students to use when they are unable to afford their own.
  • Melissa Munoz, a sixth Grade teacher at Lehi Elementary School, will purchase materials and resources for the robotics Makerspace.
  • Maureen Davies, a third and fourth grade teacher at Hale Elementary School, will purchase Lego kits for the class to learn engineering and design processes.
  • Carrie Kitchell, a STEAM teacher at Ishikawa Elementary, will purchase robots and other materials to engage students in hands-on investigation of STEAM concepts.
  • Tiffany Uhlik, a physical education teacher at Riverview High School, will purchase cardio equipment for the P.E. class to promote a healthy lifestyle.
  • Jamie Rogers, a kindergarten teacher from Whittier Elementary School, will purchase new books and math resources for the class.
  • Victoria Veglia, a third grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School, will purchase new seating options for students to promote a better learning environment.
  • Rachel Werdebaugh, a physical education teacher at Barbara Bush Elementary School, will install water bottle refill stations for students to safely refill their water bottles and maintain healthy habits all while helping the environment.
  • Kimberly Renfrow, a math teacher at Kino Junior High School, will purchase new desks and seating options for the classroom.
  • Raquel Ramos, an orchestra teacher at Carson Junior High School, will purchase a set of ukuleles for the music class.
  • Victoria Sato, a fourth grade teacher at Ishikawa Elementary School, will purchase tablets for the class.
  • Cindy O’Connor, a general education teacher at Adams Elementary School, will purchase an air purifier for the classroom.
  • Shari Burtenshaw, a STEAM teacher at Whittier Elementary School, will purchase additional technology for the science lab.

“Teachers are our unsung heroes, who give so much to our students in helping them become tomorrow’s leaders. Giving them a spotlight for their selfless work and support them with extra resources is an important part of the Fiesta Bowl’s commitment to our community,” Mike Nealy, Fiesta Bowl executive director, said in the release. “Thanks to our partners Desert Financial and SRP, Wishes for Teachers help rewards Arizona’s teachers and give them a step forward in ways they may have only wished.”

For more information, or for a full list of granted wishes, go to


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