Vail Sees THREE UA Athletics Outstanding High School Faculty Winners… AGAIN!



Vail brings home THREE of the nine finalist spots for the University of Arizona Athletics Outstanding High School Faculty Awards!

Congratulations to:
Hillary Stacey

Since Hillary Stacey was 15, she wanted to be a high school science teacher. She earned a dual degree: A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Montana State University. Ms. Stacey worked in four different research institutions with cancer research being the common theme. While she loved researching, education was where she needed to be… simply put, she loves humans. After three years of teaching, she enrolled in a Master’s program at the University of Arizona and graduated with a Master’s of Arts in Secondary Education.

Ms. Stacey began her career teaching chemistry at Empire High School in 2013. She doubled the numbers in the program and launched the first AP chemistry program in the District. Ms. Stacey not only believes that students must understand the WHY before they learn the what, but she believes that learning must be fun. She found the perfect profession to merge her two loves — chemistry and theater — bringing humor and excitement to engage students. For example: on review days, students get to choose which accent (Russian, Southern, or Minnesotan) the lesson is conducted in; there are several lessons in which she and the students act out the behavior of atoms and molecules – often leading to uproarious laughter; students can depend on chemistry jokes and puns at least every five minutes.

Her favorite roles with our community are with her chemistry club. The club sponsors a Family Halloween Night, the night of living science where they invite families to come do some “spooky” experiments with them. But, their favorite event is their signature Magic Show that they take on the road inspiring the community by taking it to elementary schools, middle schools, Vail Pride Day, and to Freshman physics classes.

Steve Schween

As a student, teaching high school was the furthest thing from Steve Schween’s mind. He went to play football! But, he found his love… he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education as well as a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science from College at Brockport, State University of New York. He also earned certifications including: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (a certification required for college and professional coaches), and a Level 1 Sports Performance Coach Certification through USA Weightlifting and Olympic Committee — Mr. Schween is a certified Olympic trainer.

Mr. Schween is now the strength training teacher at Cienega High School as well as an online health teacher through Vail’s Digital Learning Program. Schween is an ardent believer in teaching the whole individual: physical, psychological, mental, and intellectual. Students learn the critical nature of taking care of one another as a family should. Each class period is a “family” with family time every day where they come together for a trifecta of fun like hip ridge, plank, row, etc. As an avid reader, his “families” enjoy a five to ten minute “story time” segment on 90-minute block days. 230 lb. seniors enjoy “carpet time” where they hear a story about character development, success strategies, characters of a knight, etc. They learn why Cortez burned his ships, why zebras don’t get ulcers, and more!

Schween has coached football, wrestling, baseball, swimming, gymnastics, etc. He sponsors the Iron Cats Strength and Power Lifting Club. But, his favorite community outreach is opening Cienega’s strength room during breaks and the summer for students, former students, teachers, and the community. Many graduates return not just to see their pictures of Schween with them on the wall of strength room, but to train again as well.

Jim Nelson

Jim Nelson never planned to be a teacher. But, the profession found him! Jim started his working life shortly after high school working on stock cars, installing parts, and doing construction jobs before opening a demo/construction company. He also repaired and detailed cars and managed pre-delivery inspections at a dealership. When Vail was planning a new high school with a CTE focus including a Transportation Technologies Pathway, Jim Nelson was the perfect fit… now he needed a teaching certificate. Because Vail placed such a tremendous value on Jim’s industry experience and his vision for the new program, Jim earned his teaching certificate through extensive professional development in Vail and through Pima County JTED education courses.

Since then, Jim has been teaching Transportation Technologies, Welding, and Alternative Energy, and has earned all ten ASE Certifications. Everything in Jim’s courses is hands on and conceptual. And, because many of Jim’s students struggled with math, he began incorporating automotive math into his courses. Students study the math behind cubic inch displacement, steering angles, ride height, etc. His students now often come to him with a math concept they are learning and try to find its application in a car!

Jim has coached just about everything available in the Vail Community and the Vail School District, but his favorite community outreach program at Andrada consisted of building a new sleigh for the annual Red Sleigh Toy Run by the Christian Motorcycle Group. The group began delivering toys to underprivileged children years ago with just a few kids in the Vail area. Vail now serves 3,500 children in this capacity. They needed an upgraded sleigh, so Jim’s students built it. Never has Jim been prouder than when he sees that sleigh rolling down the highway behind a custom motorcycle serving the needs of our community!