Teacher Leader Development
Teachers Doing Extraordinary Things
Within every teacher leader is power fueled by a calling, passion, or purpose. There are plenty of reasons educators rise in the morning to nourish their learners – students are the face of the future. With experience comes new dimensions, revealing educators’ passions with a professional side of tenacity. Meet some of Arizona’s teacher leaders…ordinary teachers doing extraordinary things.
2021 Teacher Leaders
Glendale Union High School District
Estevan Carreon teaches students with social and emotional disabilities at Independence High School in the Glendale Union High School District. Carreon connects curiosity and leadership in how he encourages students to ask questions of themselves and is also continually curious about how he can better support students.Watch Estevan Carreon Video
Florence Unified School District
Kimberly May is preparing for her 25th year in education. After working as an assistant principal, principal, and then district director of federal and state programs, she returned to her first love, the classroom, in 2018. No matter her role, May embraces curiosity and leadership by continually reflecting on how she, her school, or district can improve.Watch Kimberly May Video
Flagstaff Unified School District
Jillian Hernández teaches fifth-grade at Puente de Hózhó Elementary School, an International Baccalaureate candidate school and trilingual school (with a Navajo Immersion Language Program and a Spanish-English Bilingual Program) in Flagstaff Unified School District. Inquiry has been a crucial part of her learning and leading journey. She has especially embraced inquiry in how she approaches equity work.Watch Jillian Hernández Video
Sarah Garcia, NBCT
Ganado Unified School District
Sarah Garcia, NBCT, has taught English for the past 11 years at Ganado High School in the Ganado Unified School District on the Navajo Reservation. She has embraced curiosity and leadership by always asking how her practice can better support her students and how to grow that kind of curiosity in her coworkers and students.Watch Sarah Garcia, NBCT Video
Grand Canyon Unified School District
Adrian Alvarez teaches middle and high school science at Grand Canyon School in the Grand Canyon Unified School District. Alvarez embraces curiosity and leadership by joining her students in asking questions about how curriculum connects directly to their lives and environment.Watch Adrian Alvarez Video
2020 Teacher Leaders
Flowing Wells School District
Ben Collinsworth is an inclusion preschool teacher at Emily Meschter Learning Center in Flowing Wells Unified School District in Tucson. He empowers students' voices through storytelling, dramatic performance, song, and dance.
Elizabeth Schley Evans
Chandler Unified School District
Elizabeth Schley Evans, NBCT, is an Advanced Placement Government and Politics teacher at Basha High School in Chandler Unified School District. She empowers students to use their voices as active citizens.
Phoenix Elementary School District
Joseph Fuentes is an expanded impact teacher at Garfield Elementary School in Phoenix Elementary School District. He empowers his students’ voices through social-emotional learning and trauma-informed practice.
Balsz School District
Kathleen Paulsen, NBCT, works with new teachers as a district mentor for Balsz School District. She supports other teachers in embracing their identities to elevate their students’ voices.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Miyone Roanhorse is an English teacher at Salt River High School in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. She elevates student voice by developing changemakers through her teaching and coaching.
2019 Teacher Leaders
Cartwright School District
Anthony Perez is a second-grade teacher to English-language learners at Sunset Elementary School in the Cartwright School District. Anthony works with students to establish worthwhile goals, while also addressing potential barriers and patterns for success.Watch Anthony Perez Video
Glendale Union High School District
James King is an English Language Arts teacher at Sunnyslope High School in the Glendale Union High School District. James sponsors an after-school club, which promotes independent reading, while providing a strong model of best practices for high school freshmen.Watch James King Video
Sahuarita Unified School District
Sara Mora is a second-grade teacher at Anza Trail School in the Sahuarita Unified School District. Sara uses digital citizenship and educational technology to springboard students toward limitless opportunities.
Chandler High School in the Chandler Unified School District
Sara Wyffels is an Advanced Placement® and International Baccalaureate® Spanish teacher at Chandler High School in the Chandler Unified School District. Sara challenges the current system and makes learning available to all students.
Sierra Vista Unified School District
Yolanda Everett is a fourth-grade teacher at Village Meadows Elementary School in the Sierra Vista Unified School District. Yolanda focuses on creating flexible seating and personal relationships to impact student learning, which dissolves physical barriers and heightens opportunities for success.Watch Yolanda Everett Video
Phoenix Union High School District
Kareem Neal is a high school self-contained special education teacher at Maryvale High School in the Phoenix Union High School District. Kareem focuses on creating a community by minimizing implicit bias through his work both in the classroom, on his campus, and across his district.Watch Kareem Neal Video
2018 Teacher Leaders
Tempe Elementary School District
Beth Lewis is a fifth-grade teacher in the Tempe Elementary School District. She chairs Save Our Schools (SOS) Arizona, which opposes the education savings account (ESA) voucher expansion, also known as SB1431. SOS Arizona reveals that the general population overwhelmingly supports public education and wants public money to fund schools in an adequate, appropriate, and equitable fashion.Watch Beth Lewis Video
Tucson Unified School District
National Board Certified Teacher Molly Reed creates lasting, equitable relationships with the diverse environment of the Sonoran Desert. She engages students in unique and meaningful experiences that enable learners to succeed in exceptional ways.Watch Molly Reed Video
Phoenix Elementary School District
Yolanda Wheelington teaches in the Phoenix Elementary School District where she supports and encourages the Montessori Method in the public arena by cultivating a voice for educators. The former social worker showcases quality instruction to enhance learning for underserved students.Watch Yolanda Wheelington Video
Balsz School District
National Board Certified Teacher Josh Meibos teaches physical education in the Balsz School District. He sponsors Skate After School, which provides extracurricular instruction to underserved youth at the David Crockett Elementary School. With donated equipment and enthusiastic volunteers, the group engages students in a challenging, new, equitable, and fun activity.Watch Josh Meibos Video
Tolleson Union High School District
Jesse Delgado is a special education mentor in the Tolleson Union High School District. He promotes inclusion through the Best Buddies club, which aims to build lifelong friendships among students with disabilities and their general-education peers. The Arizona native models inclusivity and connectedness by fostering positive, collegial interactions with other adults on campus.Watch Jesse Delgado Video
2017 Teacher Leaders
Tolleson Elementary School District
Audra Damron from the Tolleson Elementary School District bridges the gap between parents and teachers through monthly trainings that augment skills, provide resources, and increase participation. In turn, she strengthens relationships within the community. With funding from an ASCD Teacher Impact Grant, once a month for the past year, the preschool teacher has provided purposeful home school connections to empower parents to actively participate in their student’s learning to increase school readiness.Watch Audra Damron Video
Lake Havasu Unified School District
When National Board Certified Teacher Christie Olsen saw her district in a turnover crisis, she refused to rest in the reality. Through her project, Invest, Influence, Inspire = Ignite, she provides specific time for first-, second-year, and mentor teachers to collaborate and engage in professional learning communities that are impacting practice and teacher retention. Olsen facilitates and advocates for district teachers in a way that nurtures student learning, while cultivating a sense of visionary, long-term teacher leadership.Watch Christie Olsen Video
City High School District
National Board Certified Teacher Eve Rifkin spent a decade teaching in a large, district high school. Simultaneously, she felt called to educate students in a more meaningful manner that seemed improbable in her school. Thirteen years ago, she and two colleagues acted on their intuition to create a nurturing environment to cultivate student learning. Currently, she serves is a staff member and co-founder of City High School where she creates positive change while focusing on the school’s mission to foster and nurture a caring and rigorous academic environment.Watch Eve Rifkin Video
Paradise Valley Unified School District
As a passionate physics teacher in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, Mike Vargas took the scientific approach to solving one of Arizona’s problems in education: There are only 159 physics teachers in the state. Vargas was the driving force behind Senate Bill 1038: High-Quality Teacher Professional Development Pilot Program, which was signed into law on May 8. The mini-grant program will allow current teachers in the field to get new certifications in hard-to-fill STEM subjects. His willingness to step up as a teacher leader in the state showcases the tangible impact educators can have on local policy and legislation.Watch Mike Vargas Video
Ft. Huachuca School District
National Board Certified Teacher Danielle Brown was one of 18 teachers selected from a nationwide pool that was named a 2015–2017 Hope Street Group (HSG) National Teacher Fellow. Feeling called to advance the profession on a broader scale, along with her cohort, Brown set out to cultivate national awareness and propose feasible recommendations for stakeholders around teacher preparation programs. As a Professional Learning Director at the Arizona K12 Center, she will work to strengthen the current mentor and induction efforts in the state through the Arizona Master Teacher Program, which was a notable outcome of the nationwide survey conducted by the HSG fellows.Watch Danielle Brown Video
Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest
National Board Certified Teacher Julie Kasper exercises international teacher leadership as the K12 School Coordinator for Refugee Education and the Director of Collaborative Engagement to Nurture Talent and Educate Responsively (CENTER). As an employee of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest and an advocate for refugees in Tucson, Kasper uses her passion for teaching to aid a heavily underserved population. Alongside dedicated part-time staff members and volunteers, she tends to the needs of refugee families by providing a space dedicated to education that supports students, parents, and teachers in a variety of ways.Watch Julie Kasper Video