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December STARS Recipients Announced

Elko, Nevada, December 19, 2022 - Ruben Duran and Heidi Ballard were selected as the Elko County School District’s December Staff and Teachers Achieving Results with Students (STARS) award recipients.

Ruben Duran receiving award

Duran is the building superintendent at West Wendover Elementary School.

Nominated by a colleague who wishes to remain anonymous, they explained Mr. Duran makes it a point to come back to the school on weekends and evenings to make sure the building and grounds are secure.

“He comes in at 6:30 a.m. every morning and leaves at 3:00 p.m. He'll come back every night at 10:00 p.m. to walk the ground, check the outside of the building, and walk the inside checking the building as well. On weekends he comes twice a day, at 9:00 a.m. and then again at 10:00 p.m., to make sure the building is secure. He makes sure all our machines are maintained regularly and makes sure they are in good working order for whenever they are needed. He will help the other high school and middle school custodians whenever there is an issue. He interacts very well with all parents and especially the students. He is kind and caring whenever he is around them and wants the building to be a clean, happy, and enjoyable place for them. Ruben truly believes that the West Wendover Elementary building is his responsibility and that it is his building. I am honored to be around him and honored to work with him.”

Heidi Ballard receiving award

Ballard is a first grade teacher at Wells Elementary School nominated by both a parent, Kari Brough, and an individual wishes to remain anonymous.

Brough said there has never been a teacher like Mrs. Ballard to walk the halls of Wells Elementary.

“As you walk into her room, you know that your student is going to be loved and well taught. Each morning she starts her students’ day off with the attitude of gratitude moment. Each student takes their turn letting the class know what they are thankful for. The students love it. Other teachers and staff have commented to me of how they love walking past her class when she is playing the piano for her children, teaching them a song like Home Means Nevada. She keeps parents updated with her Ballard Bulletin, filling them in on what’s being taught in class that week, lunch menus, site words to practice, and more. She always has an open heart for her children in and out of the classroom. She truly cares about their well-being.”

The individual who wishes to remain anonymous stated: “Heidi has a very challenging class, and she is the most kind and patient teacher to all of her students all of the time. She always has a smile on her face when greeting students, parents, or staff. It doesn't matter who. Heidi goes above and beyond every day.”

This month’s STARS awards are sponsored by Total Eyecare, Keith Frayne with Maverick Gaming, LeeAnne's Floral Designs, and an anonymous donor.

We encourage staff, students, and the general public to nominate a school district employee who demonstrates exceptional performance and commitment to the education of all students served by the district’s schools. The nomination form is available on our STARS Program page.

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