Staff, community rallying around beloved Casteel principal - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Staff, community rallying around beloved Casteel principal

November 18th, 2017 development
Staff, community rallying around beloved Casteel principal



Casteel High School Principal Sandy Lundberg is the kind of leader who boosts everyone she meets by lifting their spirits and making them feel like they can accomplish anything.

That’s why staff members, students, parents and the community say they are rallying around her as she battles a rare type of lung cancer.

They are organizing a fundraising event called Living in the Joy, one of Lundberg’s favorite expressions, from 8 a.m. to noon on Dec. 2 at the high school, 24901 S. Power Road, Queen Creek.

For $5, people can eat breakfast and bid on decorated Christmas trees in a silent auction. Raffle tickets will be sold for $5 each and people can win a variety of gift cards. Proceeds from the event will go to Lundberg’s medical costs.

“Sandy’s incredible courage, spirit and positive outlook are inspirational to all of us who know her and those who will come to know her in the days and months ahead,” said Living in the Joy chair Kara Wilson, who is Lundberg’s administrative assistant at Casteel High.

“She’s a person who has spent her life building relationships with people.” Wilson added. “She makes connections with kids on a daily basis. Her whole focus has been making connections in the community so we can come together and help these kids succeed. Now it’s time for those of us to turn around and return the favor.”

Lundberg, 52, is undergoing targeted chemotherapy and is on medical leave but she comes to the school about once a week and contacts staff every day, Wilson said.

Wilson has worked for Lundberg for about six years, including previously as Lundberg’s administrative assistant at Arizona College Prep-Oakland Campus in Chandler.

“She’s very passionate about education and about kids,” Wilson said. “She believes and she surrounds herself with people who believe every child can succeed at a high level.”

Lundberg is in good spirits, she said. When she was first diagnosed with cancer, she said, “I don’t know why this is happening. I know that God has a plan and I’m going to trust in his plan. I have just decided I’m going to live in the joy, find the joy.”

Lundberg is grateful for the support.

“I’m very humbled, very blessed that they would all want to do it, but humbled the most,” she said. “It’s just amazing to see … how they’re just wiling to step up and help you when you are in need it’s amazing. It’s such a wonderful community. The cancer community has just reached out in so many ways. It’s just been phenomenal.

“All of my staff are just wonderful and supportive. You’re asking them to all step up and do more. I call them my white buffalo. White buffalo are real, but they’re unique. They’re awe-inspiring and irreplaceable,” she added.

At Casteel, students are taught to say “I don’t get this right now,” rather than just “I don’t get this” to reinforce that they can learn anything, Wilson said.

She added Lundberg, who has been in the Chandler Unified School District for about 10 years, is such a good principal that parents make sure their children can enroll at Casteel, which opened in 2015.

Wilson said Lundberg takes the time to stop and talk to all students and teachers she sees in the hallway to make positive comments.

The principal also has forged a close relationship with community groups including the Sun Lakes Rotary Club, which has led to the organization providing support and programs to Casteel.

Lundberg works well with parents and previously taught for 18 years in Minnesota, Wilson said. A parent herself, Lundberg and her husband, Bill, have two daughters: Maggie, 11, a student at Auxier Elementary School and Melissa, 16, a junior at Casteel.

Faculty and staff members at Casteel recently each contributed $20 in a fundraiser, where they then wore jeans to work for four days. That effort raised $1,300 for Lundberg, Wilson said.

A gofundme account has raised about $20,000 for the school principal.

Lundberg looks forward to the Dec. 2 fundraiser, saying she and Bill are amazed by all the help and outpouring of love. She’s worked in education for 30 years, including 18 teaching instrumental music/band to K-12th grades.

“I just I don’t know that I can express enough high regard for just everyone; the staff, the community,” Lundberg said. “The support is overwhelming. We tried to build a school to be uncommon. Really the community is showing itself to be uncommon and such a blessing. We are awe inspired that’s for sure.”

People can still make in-kind donations to volunteer at the Dec. 2 event, or donate raffle items by calling Wilson at 480-424-8107 or