A staff of experienced educators.
The Arizona K12 Center staff consists primarily of former educators. From kindergarten through high school, we have worked in some of the most culturally diverse and educationally challenging environments in Arizona. This gives us an intimate understanding of the difficulties today's educators face. We've been there ourselves, and are committed to helping make the teaching experience as successful and satisfying as possible.
Executive DirectorRead More
In 2005, Kathy Wiebke was brought on as the Executive Director to create a new vision and direction for the Center. Prior to joining the Center, she was the Deputy Associate Superintendent for Highly Qualified Professionals at the Arizona Department of Education, principal and classroom teacher.
Kathy Wiebke earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts degree in elementary education from Northern Arizona University. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in educational leadership and policy studies from Arizona State University, focusing on quality teaching and teacher leadership in urban schools.
Kathy was Arizona’s first National Board Certified Teacher with a Middle Childhood Generalist Certificate. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She was a member of the NEA’s Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching and NCATE’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning.
Kathy was a recipient of the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship and focused on project-based learning through the creation of a native habitat on her elementary school campus. Kathy was recognized as an Ambassador for Excellence in Arizona’s Teacher of the Year Program and received the Disney American Teacher Award in the elementary category. Her classroom practices were featured in a learning series produced by Disney.
Most recently, Kathy served as the Executive Producer of The Mitchell 20, a documentary focused on 20 teachers seeking National Board Certification or its single entry alternative, Take One. The documentary highlights teaching in America and the struggle for teacher quality.
As a native Arizonan, Kathy has spent almost her entire life in Arizona’s public schools as either a learner or a teacher, and sometimes both. She cares passionately about this state and wants its children to have the same great education she received at all levels. That is why she does this work.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Favorite Teacher & Why: This is a tie! I can’t separate them. Mrs. Mack, my second grade teacher. She had a piano in her classroom and we would always sing. Mrs. Timbrooks, my fourth grade teacher. She challenged us all to think and create. In both these teachers I knew I mattered.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is…the opportunity to support the learning of Arizona’s teachers. I have long held the belief that when we help teachers be their best, we are helping kids be their best. When I was in school, I had great teachers! I want the same for all the children in this great state!
Director of OperationsRead More
Cheryl is the Director of Operations and has been a part of the Arizona K12 Center since 2005. Cheryl is an Arizona native who grew up in Sierra Vista and has lived in many cities across the state. She is currently living in Tucson. Cheryl graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration with a specialization in computer information systems. Prior to joining the Arizona K12 Center team she worked at the Boulders Resort in Scottsdale where she discovered her love for planning events. Cheryl has more than 10 years of experience in event management and has a passion for creating learning opportunities that enable teachers to be their best for their students.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mr. Plumb, fifth and sixth grade teacher. He created an environment where learning was creative, collaborative, fun, and competitive. You could see that he really cared about each of his students and wanted us to realize and reach our true potential.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is…getting to work with teachers! It doesn’t get better than hearing the stories of how our work is impacting teachers and their students. I’m fortunate to be a part of an organization that cares as passionately about helping teachers improve the quality of teaching and education in Arizona as much as I do.
National Board DirectorRead More
Alaina Adams was a public educator in the Phoenix-Metropolitan area for 9 years. During that time, she taught on-level and inclusion 9th through 12th grade English classes, AP Language and Composition, English 101 and 102 at the community college level, and was an English Department Chair. Alaina has a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education from Arizona State University West and has a Master of Arts degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix. Alaina is a National Board Certified Teacher with a certificate in Adolescent through Young Adulthood English Language Arts. She has worked with adult learners as a Professional Development Facilitator, Virtual Mentor, and Cognitive Coach. Currently, she is the National Board Director for the Arizona K12 Center, where she works with educators across Arizona as they work towards earning National Board Certification. She also works with schools and districts as they incorporate National Board programs into their professional development pathways.
Favorite Book Growing Up: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Favorite Teacher & Why: Annette McCool, 11th grade English teacher at Alhambra High School. Ms. McCool was my favorite because she had a sense of humor and called us her "babies." She made it abundantly clear, in between brilliant lessons on The Scarlet Letter and A Streetcar Named Desire, that she loved each and every one of us.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is…being able to help Arizona's teachers find their voice as they move through the hallmarks of the National Board Certification process. Getting paid to do this type of meaningful work is truly a gift.
Technology Project DirectorRead MoreSara Crawford is an Arizona native who grew up in the west valley. She worked in the Cartwright Elementary school district where she taught both first and fifth grade Structured English Immersion (SEI) students, as well as supported teachers kindergarten through eighth grade as a Technology Integration Specialist. She also taught computer classes for parents and Healthy Living for Families classes for Cartwright's Family Resource Center. Sara then became a Professional Development and Standards Coordinator for Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA). Currently, Sara is the Technology Project Director for the Arizona K12 Center.Sara received a Bachelor's of Arts degree from Arizona State University in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood education. She has an English as a Second Language Endorsement from Rio Salado College. She obtained a Master of Arts degree from Northern Arizona University in Elementary Education with a Reading Specialist Endorsement. She also has Educational Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University.Sara has taught for the Arizona K12 Center's Camp Plug and Play since 2008. She has facilitated and co-facilitated a variety of strands including; Lights! Camera! Education!, Be Activ with your Whiteboard, Learning Through Projects, Vocabulary: Better, Faster, Stronger, and Grow Vocabulary. Sara collaborated on the creation of the Arizona K12 Center's Arizona Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) and accompanying videos and lesson plans.Favorite Book Growing Up: The Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinFavorite Teacher & Why: I have had many great teachers during my academic career. However, the first teacher that I can remember making an impact on my life was Mrs. Nickodemus. She was my Exploring Potential (gifted pullout) teacher from first grade through fifth grade. She challenged all of her students daily and encouraged us to go beyond what we thought we were capable of. I can still vividly recall the research projects, presentations, and school wide exhibits that we completed in her class.The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is... I believe that the field of education is one of the most rewarding careers there is. I love working at the Arizona K12 Center because it allows me the opportunity to support teachers who have dedicated themselves to this field.
Executive AssistantRead More
Liana Favela grew up in Tempe, Arizona. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and a minor in Spanish. Liana has always had a passion for working with people and has worked in customer relations for almost 10 years. She joined the Arizona K12 Center in March of 2013 as an Administrative Associate.
Favorite Book Growing Up: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mr. Hashem, seventh grade history teacher. He made learning about history fun and involved all of his students in class discussions. He had a passion for helping his students succeed.
The best part of working at the Arizona K12 Center is...working with and learning from all of the great staff and seeing first hand the great opportunity the Arizona K12 Center provides in helping teachers and students of Arizona succeed.
Director of Teacher LeadershipRead More
Taryl Hansen is the Director of Teacher Leadership at the Arizona K12 Center. Taryl received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Grand Canyon University in elementary education, a Master of Arts degree in professional development from Heritage College in Toppenish, Washington, and a Doctor of Education degree in teacher leadership and innovation from Arizona State University. Coming from a family of educators, she began her teaching career in Lahaina, Maui as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher. After 10 years, she returned to her native Arizona and home district, Paradise Valley Unified School District. In 2004, she earned National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist, which enticed her to a full-time position at the Arizona K12 Center in 2006. Taryl has worked to provide support for the Arizona K12 Center's Master Teacher Program, National Board Certification Program, and is now mobilizing the efforts of teacher leaders across Arizona. She is a qualified and highly trained provider of the New Teacher Center and Center for Cognitive Coaching℠, but finds her greatest pleasure in creating and refining Arizona K12 Center publications and products that spread the expertise, skills and knowledge of accomplished Arizona educators.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mr. Hunter, sixth grade, because he pushed and challenged me to rise from “the middle.”
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is… the ability to think creatively, work collaboratively, and influence educators to make positive change for Arizona students.
National Board CoordinatorRead More
An Arizona native, Christina Hernandez obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University in Recreation Management and a certificate in Nonprofit Management. After serving as an AmeriCorps Coordinator, she pursued and obtained her Master of Education degree from Northern Arizona University with an emphasis in Counseling and Human Relations. During this time her passion for education ignited as an Admission Counselor for Arizona State University, working with students at high schools with low college matriculation rates. While still at ASU, she helped open the Downtown Phoenix campus, where she worked to develop and implement traditions, leadership, and new student programs for a rapidly growing campus. She took this knowledge and experience to the University of California, Berkeley; while there she worked with peer leadership programs; assisting students in developing programs in accountability, strategic planning, leadership, and collaboration. Deciding Arizona was calling, she headed back home, where she decided to join in the effort to work for the families and youth in her community.
Favorite Book Growing Up: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Favorite Teacher & Why: Paul Bosch was my favorite teacher when I was a student at South Mountain High School. He made me excited about Biology and Human Anatomy; by engaging us in active learning and allowing us to see what he was teaching through visual prompts. As a result of his enthusiasm and encouragement, I developed an interest in the human anatomy took AP courses in Human Anatomy/Biology and entered college as a pre-med student.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is... Meeting and working with individuals that are passionate about education across Arizona.
SEED Project DirectorRead More
Stacey Hicks is the SEED Grant Project Director for the Arizona K12 Center. Stacey was born and raised in Northeast Ohio. She obtained her Bachelors in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing and her Masters in the Arts of Teaching with a focus in Early Childhood Education at Kent State University. And, while she is graduate of Kent State she is fiercely loyal to her Ohio State Buckeyes!
She taught Integrated Preschool before moving to Arizona to accept a position as a Third Grade teacher, where she taught for seven years for Paradise Valley Unified School District. She was also a Teacher Innovator for the Center for Teacher Development at Pinnacle Peak Elementary School and successfully implemented a technology integration of a one:one Chromebook pilot. Stacey achieved National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist.
Favorite Book Growing Up: George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Favorite Teacher & Why: I have two teachers that were instrumental in my love for education. The first was my Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Biddle. She had a wonderful library of books and she made our class green eggs and ham! The second was Mr. Frank Rossi. He was my high school chemistry teacher and my track coach. Mr. Rossi encouraged me to push myself to be the best that I could be, inspired me to pursue a college education, taught me the meaning of diligence and true grit, and motivated me to challenge life beyond the small town where I grew up.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is... getting to be creative each day and seeing a different side of education beyond my previous experiences in the classroom. I have opportunities to collaborate with excellent professionals and make a positive impact on education through the work we do at the Arizona K12 Center.
Lisa La Rock
Professional Learning CoordinatorRead More
Lisa La Rock moved from the California Bay Area to Arizona to attend Arizona State University in 2007. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Grand Canyon University. Upon graduating, Lisa joined the Arizona K12 Center part time as an Administrative Associate and through her time here has moved her way to Professional Learning Coordinator.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Junie B Jones by Barbara Park
Favorite Teacher & Why: Ms. Lozano, third grade math and science teacher. She took time to get to know each of her students on an individual level and made learning relevant, applicable, and entertaining.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is… the great people we get to work with. When so many differing perspectives come together with passion to grow, it is infectious. Being able to support so many educators, and in turn their students, through our professional learning opportunities provides a sense of connectedness to the community.
Fiscal Operations ManagerRead More
Valerie Lombardi is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, attended San Francisco State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies in 1981. Valerie began her career in higher education at the University of California Berkeley, initially working as a Payroll Specialist and later as a Contract and Grants Administrator in the Department of Electronics Research and Computer Science.
In 1991 Valerie left Berkeley to manage Marathon Company, a family business focused on educational fundraising for public and private schools throughout Northern California. In 1996 Valerie and her family relocated to Phoenix and oversaw the expansion of the family business throughout the state of Arizona.
Valerie has a strong presence in the non-profit community of Arizona, most notably serving as Executive Director of The Branden Lombardi Foundation, a Phoenix based 501 ( c ) 3 nonprofit organization. Along with her son, Branden, Valerie founded the organization in 2000, and has been responsible for overseeing the day to day activities of the Foundation and its numerous programs serving the cancer community of Arizona as it pursues its mission of “Improving the Quality of Life for Cancer Patients Today”.
Favorite Book: Charlotte’s Web by EB White
Favorite Teacher and Why: Mrs. Garrett, 3rd Grade. She made us feel that we were important and had something to contribute.
The best part of working at the Arizona K12 Center is: Being a part of a wonderful team that is there for the benefit of others!
National Board CoordinatorRead More
Kristin Moon is a proud native of Arizona and graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History. Upon graduation, Kristin spent time traveling abroad in Italy, Switzerland, France and Greece where she was able to see firsthand all of the beautiful works of art and architecture that she had studied in her degree program.
Kristin spent the next couple of years exploring various industries and eventually discovered her passion for event planning. Prior to joining the Arizona K12 Center, Kristin worked for seven years with Junior Achievement of Arizona, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. As the Senior Manager of Special Events, Kristin was responsible for coordinating high-end fundraising functions including golf tournaments, bowl-a-thons, auctions and student programs.
Kristin currently lives in Phoenix and enjoys travel, photography, arts & crafts, and coordinating an occasional wedding in her spare time.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene
Favorite Teacher & Why: My favorite teacher is one that I technically never had in the classroom. My dad was a teacher at Mesa Junior High at the same time that I was in junior high at Brimhall. It never failed that when we were out and about, he would run into a student or a parent who went out of their way to thank him for being such an impactful influence in their lives. When I got to high school, I met many of his students who echoed the same sentiments. My dad only taught in the classroom for seven years and has since gone on to work at the district level and is currently a junior high counselor. To this day, over 20 years later, I STILL run into former students of his who are excited to tell me how much he meant to them. How lucky am I that I have been able to learn from him for my entire life?
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is… being able to work with accomplished and fascinating people – from the educators who participate in professional learning events to the Arizona K12 Center staff.
Technology CoordinatorRead More
Shannon Olinski is an Arizona native whose self-proclaimed motto is “live with passion.” After earning her Bachelor of the Arts degree in journalism and Spanish minor from the University in Arizona in 2012, she completed her Master of Education degree in higher and postsecondary education at Arizona State University.
Prior to joining the Arizona K12 Center, she was a communications specialist at Grand Canyon University, where she worked to create content and marketing campaigns that were circulated throughout many educational arenas. Also, Shannon has experience with event planning, student organizations, public relations and communications, as she was a management intern for the Memorial Union at ASU and an information specialist at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
Shannon joined the Arizona K12 Center in May 2014 and coordinates the technology and partner events, as well as the Lesson2Life program. Her journalism experience also enables her to assist with external Center communications.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sacahar
Favorite Teacher & Why: Ms. Marsh, my high school English teacher, will always remain close to my heart. I was fortunate to have her for AP Language and AP Literature. Ms. Marsh always pushed me to new limits and required me to think critically. Whether it was creating a passionate narrative, or analyzing a thought-provoking novel, she inspired me to write from the heart with a sharp mind.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is… Working with educators who are cultivating the future. There is something incredible about helping others become better at their craft, knowing it will impact the lives of so many others. When teachers put passion into their profession it encourages their students to do the same.
Master Teacher DirectorRead More
Andrew graduated from Arizona State University West with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Andrew Ward was an educator in the heart of Phoenix for 8 years. During that time, his focus was to set students on the path of accomplishing their dreams. He taught mathematics, was grade level chair, coached a variety of sports, and was the athletic director. Currently, Andrew is the Director of Master Teacher Project for the Arizona K12 Center. He believes the State of Arizona’s educators and students are making a difference in the world.
Favorite Book Growing Up: The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mrs. Pope, 5th grade Social Studies teacher. She made me believe that history can come to life when we embrace the stories of the past. She made me understand today’s freedoms are yesterday’s struggles.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is… working with the many talented individuals that make up the center. Their knowledge and dedication to improving education make it exciting to come to work every day.