; Bob Burton Spirit Award | CADA

Bob Burton Spirit Award

The Bob Burton Spirit Award is presented to a person who makes SPIRIT WORK, who makes a positive difference and who emphasizes inclusion with all students and members. The nominee must be a CADA member, individual or vendor. The award is given through the area in which the nominee maintains business or membership. The nominee cannot be a current council member and will be given to one person, not to teams, partners or groups

2021 Bob Burton Award Recipients

AREA A: melissa maher, beyer High School

Melissa Maher is the Activities Director and Leadership Teacher at Beyer High School in Modesto, Ca. Melissa began her teaching career at Beyer in 2013 when she was hired to teach English. Her energy and charisma quickly captured the hearts of her the freshman students that she taught, and she became the Freshman Class Advisor. At the same time, her husband and brother-in-law coached basketball and enjoyed back-to-back winning seasons capturing League titles. Melissa was asked to take the role of Full-Time Activities Director and Leadership teacher in 2017 just one year after her daughter, Rian, was born. Melissa jumped right into the position planning her own Leadership Retreat at her family’s farm in Waterford, California. Since then, the Leadership program has blossomed and become the steadfast foundation that supports Beyer High School Spirit. In the last 4 years, the program has grown from 35 students to over 90. Melissa also understands the importance of Inclusion and has included students of Special Needs in both her Leadership Class and school-wide activities. Melissa’s energy is contagious; she walks into a room and the spirit ignites! She claims she owes her love of the job – the crazy schedules, the rush of excitement, the sleepless nights– to the students who she works alongside day in and out. Truly, there is sense of community with Melissa directing Activities. She also understands the importance of student/staff relations. With the success of her Annual Crab Feed, she can provide Staff celebrations working closely with her Booster Clubs. She also initiated the Freshman Class Ambassadors Club that she runs herself. With this Club, her upper classmen mentor and foster positive relationships at the school. This year, more than ever, Melissa recognized the need to stay “connected” in the digital world. With that said, she began filming and publicizing a biweekly Principal’s Update video that is shared with students, parents, and staff at Beyer High. Likewise, she created a google site entitled Friday Follow Up that is sent to the entire Beyer Community highlighting school news, staff spotlights, and other student resources. Beyer High School is blessed to have such an outstanding individual serving at their school site.

Area b: meg walsh, leland High School

Meg Walsh has been in education for 17 years, all at Leland High School. Her first 10 years, she taught English while coaching Cheer for 3 years, advising the Freshman class for 4 years, and creating / advising Leland's student spirit club - "Entourage". For the past 8 years, Meg has taught Leadership, and became Leland's Activities Director 6 years ago. She focuses on bringing together all the diverse groups at Leland to create, and encourage events where each can contribute and benefit; creating a campus where there is something for everyone. Activities, spirit, pride, and teaching are her true hearts passion. Working with kids in real life event planning, molding students into leaders, and creating community is her dream job. She is always looking for new ideas, and CADA makes that possible. To be awarded the Bob Burton Award is a dream come true. Thank you for this honor! (I have NOT received any previous awards. But it was a "required" question. I have NOT participate in State/ National Activities question, but it was "required". I have great dreams (literal dreams) of presenting at the State Conference. I do attend the conference every year)

AREA C: zach stepp, reedley high School

Zach Stepp has been the Activities Director and Leadership teacher at Reedley High School for 3 years. Prior to becoming the Activities Director, Zach taught Biology and Earth Science and was a football and baseball coach. Zach was introduced to CADA when he took a group of student leaders to the 2018 CADA camp at UCSB. That experience had a major impact on him and he learned what student activities were really about. Creating an inclusive campus, where all students are welcomed, valued, and highlighted has become the driving force of his program. Zach loves what he does and believes he has had a positive impact on the culture and climate at Reedley High. He is honored to receive this award and would like to say thank you to: Principal John Ahlin for giving him this opportunity, the staff and students of RHS for believing in the vision, CADA and his Area C family for the inspiration and guidance, and to his wife Heather and his sons Logan and Riley for their love and support.

AREA D: jim johnson, san luis obispo high School

Jim began his teaching career in 1989, teaching at both the middle school and high school levels. In 1994, at Mesa Middle School, he joined the CADA organization and later teamed with former CADA President Monica Anderson. Jim transferred to Nipomo High School, to help open the school in the Activities Director role, serving for eight years. Jim is currently the Activities Director at San Luis Obispo High School. Over the past 20 years, Jim has worked at the CADA Leadership camps, presented at Area D student and adult conferences, and has presented at the CADA State Convention. Jim met Bob Burton some years back at a CADA Convention and became a huge fan. "Spirit Works, Turn it On" is required reading for all of Jim's ASB students. Jim has brought Bob's ideas, philosophy, and energy to the activities programs he has had the good fortune to lead.

AREA E: paul dols, monrovia high school

Paul Dols became the Activities Director at Monrovia High School three years ago. It was a logical progression to tie this position together with his position as the Renaissance Coordinator, which he has been for the past 13 years. He is now the Climate & Culture Coordinator, responsible for creating a school that no one wants to leave and every one calls home. Paul's desire to bring kindness and positivity to the entire school community drives him to work with his leadership students to make a difference in the lives of each member of the Wildcat Family. Through his "Three Minute Thursday" videos he provides moments of inspiration not just to his school but to others who use these messages in their classes and programs throughout the region and the state. Paul believes that each day brings an opportunity to build relationships, strengthen ties and continue to "sow the seeds" to grow student leaders and change the world.

AREA F: tami sciacca, los alamitos high school

Tami Sciacca is an established 15-year educator, celebrating her fourth year as the Los Al Activities Director and Intervention teacher, with vast experience as a K-12 classroom teacher. Tami is the recipient of multiple State and National awards of teaching excellence, Intervention, and connecting students with academic and personal success. In 2019, Tami and the Los Al Locos were awarded The Southern California Most Spirited Student Section, as well as one of the Nation’s Most Spirited High Schools by Varsity Brands. A Griffin for Life, Tami Sciacca and the Los Al Locos, Make Spirit Work!


Shannon Parker has served as the ASB director at Westview High School in San Diego for 9 years. In that time she has worked tirelessly to guide her leadership students to innovate in order to meet their mission: Advocate for all, Serve their students and Build stronger bonds. Her program has taken steps to host some of the most innovative and engaging No Place For Hate programs which include diversity panels, Language Matters photo campaigns, all school anti-bias lessons, podcast programs, meaningful themes and more. Besides these sorts of important campaigns her program leaders also recognize that an emphasis on highly ranked academic success can cause pressure and stress. To combat this, her work is balanced out by innovating and hosting interactive rallies, music festivals, unique lunch-time activities, dances with alternative activities and more; all of which have grown in appeal to a wide range of demographics. When on-campus learning came to an abrupt halt last spring, activities changed. Some of the virtual activities she has successfully brought to her campus are: Coping with Grief in Covid - webinar for students as part of a Mental Health Campaign, Digital Footprint Campaign, Drive-thru club rush, a “Good Luck Wally” video series starring the school mascot and more. All in an effort to connect students to their campus.

AREA H: sara nilles, work2bewell

Sara Nilles is currently an educational and leadership development consultant with 20 years of experience nationally and internationally. She recently served as the Vice President of the National Association of State Student Council Executive Directors (NASSCED). She was the Executive Director for the Oregon Association of Student Councils (OASC) for ten years and taught math and leadership for ten years before her role with OASC. Her current role has her consulting with a Providence program she co-founded called Work2BeWell – empowering teens to thrive through access to mental health resources. What started as a focus group at OASC summer camps has turned into a national program with student voice at the center! Although her path has recently changed – one thing is for certain, Sara is an advocate for student voice and loves empowering those around her to “work hard, play hard” and to Dream BIG! She #works2bewell by RV’ing and walking with her best fur buddy Jax.

Past Bob Burton Award Recipients





2021 Melissa Maher Meg Walsh Zach Stepp
2020 Kristin Patten Nichole McGowan Pickett Nyrie Karkazian
2019 Stacie Martin Ben Breazeale Larry Armstrong
2018 Season Lozano Laura Saldana Cassie Ortiz
2017 Lori Heintz Helen Paris Teresa Hutson
2016 Verne Johnson Jacob Headley Shelly Henderson
2015 Kim Bair Jessica Holman Ronnie Scott
2014 Jessica Banchieri Eugene Wing Stephen Amundson
2013 Lisa Retnolds Sara Catalli Renee DeCanio
2012 Jeff Burghardt Glenda Wurm-Hayenga Brooke Slayton
2011 Terry Barker Kim Kuczon Judy Fortenberry
2010 Ted Wimberg Sandi Martin Julie Peterson
2009 Tamara Givens Debra LaPrath Howard Zinn




2021 Jim Johnson Paul Dols Tami Sciacca
2020 Stacy Picciuto Tim Hall David Vollmar
2019 Nyssa Baca Michelle Chiotti Erin Andrade
2018 Adrian Salazar Paula Tezak Tara Fry
2017 Toriann Garner Celia Collins Ami Sandler
2016 Lori Lowensen Fran Whitney Scott Mendelson
2015 Kelly DeBernardi Jenn Childers Cathy Leseberg
2014 Melanie Lindsey Mike Motherspaw Kelli Cooper
2013 Peaches MacKenzie Scott Cavanias Sharon Tavaglione
2012 Barbara Johnson Melanie Wong Richard McAlinidin
2011 Lisa Avery Todd Arrowsmith Heidi Dunne
2010 Craig Combs Dave Olbright Colleen Hayashi
2009 Linda Frye Kyle Svoboda Linda Zeigler



2021 Shannon Parker Sara Nilles  
2020 Jeremy Hersch Kristin Grimm  
2019 Deana Garcia Al Hopgood  
2018 Janice Teixeira Darryl Andrews  
2017 Ruben Martinez Sandy Ginger  
2016 Sanford M. Carvajal    
2015 Brandi Friend    
2014 Joe Gizzo    
2013 Kelcie Butcher    
2012 Rob Keillor    
2011 Doug Roselli    
2010 John Schroeder    
2009 Suzanne McKibbin    
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