Senator Square: Carson High announces its Educator of the Year |

Senator Square: Carson High announces its Educator of the Year

By Phil Brady Carson High School

If you know Shanell Cavener, then you are tremendously lucky. If you work with her, or she taught you, then the luck is multiplied tenfold (hopefully this is the right math to use, Shanell?).

Shanell Cavener is this year’s Carson High School Teacher of the Year, and she could not be more deserving of the honor. Shanell is quiet, often working behind the scenes in ways people would not even realize in order to benefit the lives of all who enter CHS.

I am excited for Shanell because this honor brings her gift to this community into the light. Shanell is a native Nevadan, having grown up in smalltown Round Mountain and graduating from Silver Stage High School.

“My love for mathematics carried me through my high school and college career where I tutored peers and struggling students, and set me on the path of becoming a teacher,” she said.

She first attended Western Nevada College and then the University of Nevada, Reno, where she attained her teaching degree. She has since gone on to receive her master’s in education in K-14 mathematics curriculum and instruction.

Shanell is one of the first people I met when I came to CHS seven years ago, and she quickly made me feel welcome. I was impressed instantly by how active she is not only in her classroom, but also in the school as a whole.

Shanell has led CHS Link Crew and Blue Crew, helping entering freshmen to feel connected to established CHS Senators. She participates on the Senator Pride Committee, planning events to celebrate the staff and she is always the first to volunteer to help chaperone, attend school events, or support student projects.

Shanell is one of the most humble educators I have ever met; she looks for no acknowledgment for the work she is doing. Inside her classroom, she is incredibly innovative and creative in reaching students. She worked to create an interactive notebook, which students use to organize thoughts and information; this, ultimately, became a tool many students highlight as their best math resource.

Besides being a counselor, I have been lucky to have my own child learn from Shanell. She has a way to engage even the most timid students in her learning by using humor, collaboration and kindness. Students who enter Shanell’s classroom leave with a newfound sense of appreciation and connection to mathematics, which helps them throughout their academic careers.

CHS principal Gavin Ward says about Shanell, “Students seek her out because she is a great individual and a quality teacher. Teachers trust her because she is hardworking, intelligent and empathetic. Administrators love her because she desires to do what is best for students and is always willing to lead the work needed. She is truly deserving of Carson High Teacher of the Year.”

Currently, Shanell teaches trigonometry and precalculus, but she taught geometry for seven years and algebra 1 for a year beyond that.

Math department chair Sue Drozdoff said, “It has been my pleasure and privilege to call Shanell a colleague and a friend for the past decade. Since the day she started as a student teacher in the CHS mathematics department, she has given 110 percent to everything she does. She is constantly working to refine whatever curriculum she is teaching and has brought innovative teaching ideas such as Interactive Notebooks and AVID strategies to her students and the other teachers in the department.

“She is always willing to share anything she has created for her students with her fellow teachers. CHS is a better place to learn and work because of all Shanell does for her students and colleagues and our site could not have found a more worthy recipient of Teacher of the Year.”

“I love learning and teaching,” Shanell said. “My time at Carson High School has been a dream come true. I am surrounded every day by amazing educators who inspire me and push me to not only become a better educator, but a better person.”

I hope you can join me (from a 6-foot distance) in celebrating this truly spectacular, compassionate, hilarious and creative educator in this greatly deserved honor. Congrats, Shanell! You represent the best of CHS. – Contributed by CHS counselor Bridget Gordon-Johnson


“Good morning! This is just a check-in. First off, I am sending this exact e-mail to the entire Language Arts department. I wanted you to know how proud I am to work at CHS with such professional faculty and staff members. Please know our community appreciates being available to your students at the regularly scheduled class time. We are receiving positive phone calls thanking teachers for providing quality remote education for their child. These are parents and guardians calling unsolicited to say thanks. That is cool. Please take care of yourself and your family. If you need anything, feel free to contact me via e-mail, text or phone. Thank you.” – Contributed by CHS vice principal Bob Chambers


To seniors, parents, guardians and the CHS community: Due to the continued effects of the coronavirus, the Senior Project Committee has moved the speech and portfolio presentations to an online format during the week of May 15 through May 22. This new date will help to avoid conflicts with junior and senior Advanced Placement testing. Today’s complications have forced the removal of the role of advisers for this year. Instead, seniors will present their projects in senior English teachers’ online classrooms. Teachers will confirm the use of cameras and microphones with their students so that students effectively present their speeches and portfolios orally and visually. Teachers are also developing plans to schedule students in small virtual group presentations and to use rubrics for evaluations. With all the disruption and disappointment the Class of 2020 has experienced because of the pandemic, it is important for CHS to acknowledge the work, the commitment and the time this class gave to their projects. And while the projects will be presented in this modified format, CHS is committed to the graduation of this senior class.


Hello to CHS’ current ninth, 10th and 11th grade students, along with Carson Middle, Eagle Valley Middle and private school current eight grade students from Coach Sheila Story:

“I would love for you to join our cheer team for the 2020-21 school year, so if you are interested in trying out, please go to and complete all the sections of the registration.” The deadline is April 20.

Story added, “We will also send an e-mail through ‘Register My Athlete’ with tryout information, and we will also be starting a CHS Cheer Tryout Band App where athletes will find tryout cheers, dances and the CHS school song to learn, and the coaches will also post weekly challenges to help athletes prepare for tryouts.”

Students and parents, please send Coach Story an e-mail, if interested, at, or call her at 775-720-9583 with any questions. At this time of great need for safety, good health and wellbeing, please stay at home, drink plenty of water, wash hands frequently, do not touch the eyes and wipe down all surfaces.


The latest Senator Scholarship Scoop is online at by clicking “Academics,” “Counseling Department” and “The Scoop” on the left. The CHS Guidance Office is also available to help students choose and apply for scholarships. Email counselor Amanda Chambers at to make an appointment. Yes, counselors are still available to help students during the COVID-19 community shutdown.


Called Renown Health 2020 H.S., volunteer programs are open to all sophomore, junior, and senior students interested in the medical field. Applications are available in the CHS Career Center, or students can call 775-283-1910, and seniors graduating in 2020 will have their applications rerouted to college volunteer programs. Make the most of this pandemic quarantine, and begin preparing for a future career in the medical field.


GNCU is awarding up to $60,000 in scholarships to qualifying students. Since 2000, GNCU has helped more than 320 students Live Greater by awarding more than $429,000 in scholarships. There are 25 $2,000 scholarships for students age 24 or younger at the time of application and who are a Greater Nevada member or the child, spouse or parent of a Greater Nevada member, and five $2,000 scholarships for students age 25 or older at the time of application who are a Greater Nevada member with a valid account number. Scholarship winners are selected based on financial need, academic performance, community involvement and educational and professional goals. Scholarships may be used for tuition, course registration, special classes or laboratory fees, room and board, textbooks and class materials as part of undergraduate, technical or trade school education. Scholarship applications need to be postmarked and submitted electronically to a branch no later than 5:30 p.m. April 30.


The CHS Student of the Week is Magali Banuelos. Gabriela McNamara, her nominating teacher, said about Magali, “She works hard, is dedicated and is a portrait of good behavior.” Employees within Carson City School District nominate CHS students for Student of the Week. “Despite her limited English proficiency, Magali Banuelos consistently pushes herself to try harder while always maintaining a positive attitude, and she has demonstrated high expectations for herself and constantly raises the bar to achieve them,” McNamara added. Congratulations to Magali Banuelos for positively standing out in pursuing her education.

Phil Brady is an English teacher at CHS.