WFES Newsletter

May 8th, 2020

Staffing Updates for the 2020-2021 School Year

We will have several new faces on our staff next year and will be saying goodbye to some fabulous educators and staff members at the end of this year. We will also have a few staff members moving to different grade levels or new roles within the building. To view the entire staff roster and assignments for next year, click the button below. To meet our new teachers and say goodbye to those leaving, continue reading below.

Please Welcome Our New Firebird Staff Members!

Ms. Ariana Hilborn - Kindergarten

Hello Wildfire Family!

My name is Ariana Hilborn and I am so excited to be teaching Kindergarten at Wildfire this year! I was born and raised in Greendale, Wisconsin and lived there until I moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University. I graduated from ASU earning my degree in Early Childhood Education. After college I was a private teacher/nanny for a nationally syndicated radio host and then went on to teach first grade in the Tempe School District. After 3 years in Tempe, I was hired on to teach first grade here at Wildfire!

After teaching with the wonderful first grade team at Wildfire for three years, I took a leave of absence to follow my other passion- running! It led me to travel the world to compete and ultimately to run the marathon for Latvia in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Throughout my time running professionally, I greatly missed being in the classroom and working with my sweet students. I was able to come back to the Paradise Valley School District and teach first grade at Echo Mountain, and Kindergarten at Sonoran Sky.

I am married to my husband Matt and we have a two year old son named Nils. We also have a very energetic eight year old labrador named Gussie. We love anything outdoors and try to get up north to camp as much as we can. I still love to run in the early hours before school and I absolutely love coffee! I am so excited to be back teaching with the best teachers and staff in the district here at Wildfire. Teaching Kindergarten is my passion and I can't wait for school to start in August!

Ms. Andrea Ridenour - Kindergarten

My name is Andrea Ridenour. I am originally from Minnesota and lived in Colorado for 11 years before moving to Arizona in 2014. I have a wonderful husband, Tyson, and four children ages 21, 19, 9, and almost 5. My oldest son, Alex, lives in Florida and my only daughter, Anna, attends Paradise Valley Community College. Apollo will be going into fourth grade and Wyatt will start Kindergarten. I graduated from Hamline University in St. Paul with my Bachelor's degree and later returned to school, earning my certification in Elementary Education from Colorado Christian University. I have been teaching for 13 years and have taught the last 6 years at Paseo Hills School in the Deer Valley School District. I enjoy spending time with my family, hiking, swimming and reading. I love going to Minnesota in the summer to visit my family.

I am excited to join the Kindergarten team at Wildfire and am looking forward to a wonderful year!

Ms. Erin Tollefson - Kindergarten

"Hi! My name is Erin Tollefson and I am so excited to be teaching Kindergarten at Wildfire this year!

Here’s a little bit about me: I was born and raised in a small town in Illinois named Sandwich (yes, crazy enough, that’s a real place). I graduated from Northern Illinois University where I received a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Special Education. I started my professional career as a teacher’s aide in a preschool classroom. Three years ago my husband and I decided to move to Tucson and I have been teaching Kindergarten in the same school there since then. My husband recently got a new job with the Phoenix Suns so now I get the opportunity to be a part of the Wildfire community! In my spare time I love to do arts and crafts projects, spend time with my family, and be outside.
I can’t wait to meet all of you!"

Ms. Aimee Armendariz - 1st Grade

Hi! My name is Aimee Armendariz (Mrs. A) and I am so excited to join the 1st grade team at Wildfire this Fall! This will be my 13th year teaching and my second year teaching 1st grade. I have also taught kindergarten, 2nd grade, and K-6 Computers. I live close by with my husband Steven, my daughter Morgan (5), and our two dogs, Archie and Maddy. In my spare time I love to spend time with my family, play soccer, read, do a puzzle or just relax! I cannot wait to meet and get to know the staff, parents, and most of all the kiddos at Wildfire Elementary.

Ms. Carly Hoffman - 6th Grade

Hello! My name is Ms. Hoffman. I am so excited to meet my 6th graders and their families and become a part of the Wildfire community! I am originally from River Falls, Wisconsin, a small town just east of St. Paul, Minnesota. I went to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. After I graduated from college, I moved to Phoenix and started teaching. In my thirteen years of teaching, I have taught third through seventh grade. I am currently teaching 7th-grade social studies at Mountain View Elementary in the Washington Elementary School District.

When I am not teaching I have many interests. I enjoy reading, writing, solving puzzles (jigsaw and Sudoku), hiking, indoor rock climbing, and spending time with my mini-Schnauzer, Kinni, and my 9-month-old daughter, Paisley. I love watching sports, especially college basketball and of course, the Green Bay Packers! One of my passions is traveling and I try to plan a couple of trips a year. I have driven across much of the United States, and one of my life goals is to visit all 50 states! I cannot wait to meet you all and begin our 2020-2021 school year!

Dr. Stephanie Stickford - Music

I’ve heard such positive things about Wildfire students, families, and staff, and I’m very excited to join the Wildfire community!

Here are a few things you might want to know about me. I am originally from Ohio, where I graduated from the Ohio State University--Go Bucks! I moved to Phoenix to earn my Doctoral degree in music/music education at Arizona State University, and have been teaching elementary general music in the Paradise Valley School district for the past 17 years. I am an active music performer, singing and recording with two Phoenix-based professional ensembles, the Phoenix Chorale and Helios. One Phoenix Chorale CD recording project on which I sang won a Grammy award in 2015 -- this was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my musical life! Continuing to be challenged as a musician and perform at a high level inspires me to share my love for music with students.

Whether teaching young people to sing and play all kinds of instruments or directing a choir of young singers, I have found that making music is the best way to inspire kids -- kids love it when they are performing something they enjoy and when they like what they hear. I look forward to making music with students at Wildfire!

Ms. Rhiannon Spetrini - Instructional Coach

Dear Wildfire Community and Educators,

My name is Rhiannon Spetrini and I am so thrilled to be entrusted as your instructional coach for Wildfire and Desert Trails next year. Next year will be my fifth year in the Paradise Valley School District. I have been teaching fourth grade at Desert Trails for the past four years, and before that, I taught first, third, and fourth grades in Providence, Rhode Island, and in the Cave Creek School District. In Cave Creek, I was a member of the District Tech Cadre, a collaborative group of educators sharing ideas and innovative technologies to enhance teaching and learning, a passion that I continue to share in Paradise Valley. I originally hail from Madison, Wisconsin, and moved here in 1998 to attend Arizona State University where I earned my undergraduate degree in Community and Social Justice. I also hold a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. My husband Dan’s education and career took us to the East Coast for several years, and while the food was incredible, I could not wait to come back to teach in Arizona again.

Our three children proudly attend PV schools, with my son Cohen at Desert Trails, Julian at Explorer, and my daughter Preslee in the CREST Engineering program at Paradise Valley High School. As a parent and as a colleague, I have seen firsthand how dedicated and dynamic our teachers at all levels are, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work among them and learn from their expertise every day. This district is truly a special place to call home.

When I am not at school you will find me at a baseball game, hiking with friends, or woodworking (see: making a mess) in my garage. I love the process of creative thinking and problem solving when building furniture, and it holds true when applied to my approach toward education. Every day is an opportunity to gain more perspective, learn more about the craft, take more risks creatively, and gain from the experience and insight of others.

I look forward to getting to know you, and to the opportunity to work with and support this community of exceptional teachers and students in the coming year.

Ms. Shelly Richardson - Assistant Principal

I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve the Desert Trails and Wildfire community as the Assistant Principal/TOA next year! I am an Arizona native and received my Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and completed my Master’s Degree in Educational Administrative Leadership at Northern Arizona University. I have 18 years of experience teaching all grade levels, Kindergarten - 6th grade, and taught at Fireside Elementary the last 5 years in 3rd/4th grade Gifted Self-Contained. I absolutely love working with children and my goal as a teacher has always been to create a fun and nurturing learning environment in which all students are challenged and have the confidence to always try their best!

My husband and I live in Cave Creek and have two wonderful daughters that graduated from Pinnacle High School. Our oldest daughter, Morgan, is an ER nurse in South Dakota and Gabby is at the University of Washington working on her Masters in Prosthetics and Orthotics. I love traveling, hiking, beaches, reading, camping, and chocolate! We also have a crazy Great Pyrenees dog named Chance.

I believe that every child can be successful and it is important for everyone to work together to create a positive, safe and caring environment for students to learn best. I look forward to working with the students, teachers, staff and parent communities at Wildfire and Desert Trails and I can’t wait to meet everyone! I am so excited for the 2020-2021 school year!

We Will Miss You!

Ms. Kristin Alba

Dear Wildfire Community,

Spending the past three years working at Wildfire has been absolutely incredible. I have been so lucky to have the sweetest students, meet the most wonderful families, and work alongside phenomenal educators. Wildfire is a truly special place and wouldn’t trade my experience here for anything. It is so bittersweet to announce that beginning in August I will be heading to Arizona State University as a full-time student and will no longer be working at Wildfire.

I will be working on my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy with a goal to become an adolescent therapist. My time in the classroom has shown me that working with children and their families will always be my passion and I am excited to see what this new journey will bring. I can’t thank the entire Wildfire community enough for welcoming me with open arms and providing an experience that I will always cherish. I’m truly going to miss greeting my students every morning, the big hugs, and hearing all the exciting stories my 2nd graders love to share! Wildfire, its staff, its students, and its families will always hold a big place in my heart. Thank you!



Ms. Rachelle Hayes

Dear Firebird Families,

After 5 amazing years serving the Wildfire community, I wanted to let you know that I will not be returning to WF next school year. Instead, I will be serving as the Assistant Principal at Desert Springs Preparatory and Palomino Intermediate School! I am beyond excited to begin this new journey into administration and to continue making a difference in the lives of students.

I never thought I'd leave Wildfire, it truly is the best place to be in PV. I've gained amazing friends and family and have experienced such love, respect, and support from our Firebird families. I can't believe it, but I am looking forward to what the future brings.

Thank you for everything and best wishes!

Mrs. Hayes

Ms. Malinski!

Dear Wildfire friends, family, and community!

These last four years as a Firebird have been the greatest years of my life so far! Since I was little, I dreamed of being a teacher just like so many of my family members, and strived to make a difference to others the same way that my teachers did for me growing up-- and thanks to you all you made my dream come true! Starting off with my first two teaching years as a third-grade teacher, and then inching down to the little kindergarteners for the next two, I've had nothing but amazing experiences all around (...and of course the occasional yanking your hair out-- But that's the teacher life!).

In my time at Wildfire, I have worked with some of the kindest, most compassionate, funniest, most loving, and talented fellow teachers and staff I've ever had the pleasure of knowing! I've learned so much as a professional and person, and I know that there is no other school in the world better than ours.

Next school year, as many may know I will be taking a leave of absence to chase another dream and love of mine for a while-- which is the art world! I don't see this as a goodbye, but rather, as Mickey Mouse would say, a "see ya real soon, pal!" I know that my teaching journey surely has not ended. That being said I will miss you all more than words can say and I hope that the sparkle I tried to leave behind will remain to shine in all of you till we see each other again! Have an amazing next year and thank you for making this campus feel like home!


Ms. Malinkski

Ms. Scala

Dear Wildfire Family,

I am retiring at the end of this fast-approaching school year. My husband and I are opening a new chapter in our lives and we’re moving to the Oregon Coast. I want to thank the Wildfire School family for making my last year of teaching in Arizona my most rewarding. Ryan Schoonover, students, parents, and staff at Wildfire are second to none. Thank you and I will miss you all!


Tracie Scala

Thank You Ms. Schall!

Ms. Pamela Schall is moving to Whispering Wind Academy to be their Reading Specialist. Thank you for all you have done to help our Firebirds learn and grow in their reading skills these past two years. We will miss you and we wish you the best!

Class Rosters and Move-Up Day for the 2020-2021 School

We had originally planned to hold our move-up day and release class rosters on the last day of school, however, the release of class rosters is going to have to be delayed for a future date. This is due to the school being unable to administer gifted, special education, and other evaluations prior to the end of the school year. The results of these tests and evaluations are a pivotal part of our placement process and without this information, we are unable to build balanced class rosters. We don't want to release class rosters and then have to make adjustments and re-release new rosters. We feel that would be unfair to those students whos placements would be changed.

When the school is informed by the district about when we are able to proceed with our testing and evaluations we will be able to set a class roster release date and that will be communicated with the community. We greatly appreciate everyone's understanding.

Yearbook Update/Spring Picture Update

Yearbooks and spring picture delivery is currently delayed due to the closure of the Lifetouch printing facilities. At this time we have been given no time frame for printing/delivery of yearbooks and pictures but when we are given that information it will be communicated with families about how and when to come pick-up their orders.

Field Trip Reimbursement Information

Questions about field trip and other student activities reimbursements due to the school closers can be found by visiting the PVSchool Covid-19 webpage at the following address:

Student Personal Item Collection

If you were unable to collect your students' personal belongings during our scheduled pick-up time, we have scheduled another pick-up day for Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM. All you need to do is pull-up to the front office and a staff member will bring the belongings to your vehicle.

Checked Out Library Books?

Checked out library books can be dropped off at the school at any time by placing them in the boxes outside the front office. These can also be turned if you are needing to pick-up student items from the school.

Checked-Out Chromebook Update

In order to help with ongoing learning, students staying in the district will be able to keep their computer devices over the summer. The district is currently developing a process and schedule to collect devices from students who are leaving the district (e.g. graduating seniors, moving, switching schools) and will share the information when details are finalized. Information regarding summer enrichment opportunities will be shared by the district in the next two weeks.

End of the School Year Celebrations!

While we won't be able to have a party at the end of year and recognize all of our accomplishments in person this year, it doesn't mean that we won't be celebrating!

  • On May 21st, 2020 at 9:00 AM, we are going to clap out our 6th-grade students via a drive through our bus lane - more details and a map to come.
  • On May 21st, 2020 at 10:30 AM, we are going to celebrate our kindergarten graduates outside the kindergarten playground - more details to come.
  • Teacher Parade! On May 22nd, a teacher parade will be driving through the Sky Crossing, Tatum Highlands, and Aviano neighborhoods to thank all our students and families for albeit odd but wonderful school year! - Maps of the parade route and times for each neighborhood will be sent to families next week.

Enrollment Information

How to Enroll at WFES for the 2020-2021 School Year During the School Closure

Despite the school closures, we are still accepting enrollments for the 2020-2021 school year.

If Wildfire Elementary School is your home school, download the PVSchools Student Registration Form, and email the completed forms and other required documents to

Required Documents for Enrollment

  • A certified copy of your child's birth certificate
  • Your child's immunization records
  • Proof of Arizona residency (e.g., utility bill, house payment, lease/purchase agreement)
  • IEP/504 forms (if applicable)

Please note, to register for kindergarten, your student must be 5 years old PRIOR to September 1st, 2020.

You will also be required to fill in a Student Emergency Card upon registration.

UPC Webinar Event: Protecting Against Cyber-bullying

The United Parent Council is excited to announce an interactive program you can participate in from the comfort of your home! We know these are difficult times for all and our hope is that this program will provide you with some tools and support to create a positive "home climate" for you and your family. Upon registration, you will also have the opportunity to send questions to the presenter in advance. Please feel free to share with friends who may be interested.

Increased screen time can increase the risk of cyberbullying. This webinar will explain what is known about cyberbullying, techniques for preventing it, and what to do when your children are exposed. The interactive presentation draws on the evolving science of bullying and cyberbullying and provides recommendations that are tailored to the home learning environment.

Please register in advance to receive your access code for the webinar:

Online Learning Resources

Online Learning Resources

The Paradise Valley School District and Wildfire Elementary Schools provides supplemental and instructional resources, for students, parents, and teachers. Online instruction will primarily use the following resources of GSuite (Google tools), Google Classroom, WebEx, and Infinite Campus. Teachers will also contact you regarding supplemental tools they will be using to support learning.

What you need to know.

  • Due to the statewide closure of all schools, learning must be moved to online and distance learning models. This site provides the starting point for students, parents, and teachers to work together to continue learning.

  • Stay safe by:

    • Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, coughing and sneezing into your elbow

    • Practicing social distancing by staying at least 6 feet from others

    • Practicing good online hygiene by guarding your password

  • We can't be physically with you, but by using technology and providing delivery of physical resources where needed, ALL students can continue to learn. ALL teachers can continue to teach. ALL schools can continue to function.

What PVSchools is doing about it.

  • PV is providing both online and paper supplemental resources (at select drop locations) beginning the week of March 30.

  • PV will be providing online instruction for most students, and paper resources for some students as needed.

What you need to do about it.

  • Students can securely get to their online communication (Gmail, Google Classroom) and curricular resources at

  • Teachers and students can then connect online.

  • Some Special Education students and very young children may need help if online resources require authentication.

  • Teachers and parents have access to student grades, usernames, and passwords. Login into the Infinite Campus parent portal at and select more from the menu to see your students’ passwords.

Social and Emotional Resources

While we have been sharing information regarding distance learning and student learning, we don't want to ignore the social and emotional health of our students and families. Here are some links to several sources that can guide you in working with your children and provide assistance with some of your family's critical needs. We hope that you and your family are staying safe, both physically and emotionally, during this time.

Math Resources For Help At Home

Need help with math homework? The Paradise Valley School District has created a website to help students and families with the math as well as provide homework help. Check out the links below to get some added help with math.

Math Family Resource Website:

Homework Helper:


Paradise Valley has developed a plan to ensure our students who participate in our nutrition program will continue to be able to access meals: PVSchools Nutrition & Wellness will provide free meals to any child 18 years of age or younger, regardless of application status or school enrollment. Per USDA regulations, children must be present at the time of pick-up for meals to be provided.

Locations and details can be found in the following document.

Learn more about free meals for students (PDF).

Wildfire Elementary School Firebirds

The mission of Wildfire Elementary School is to lead students to high achievement and individual excellence in a collaborative learning environment