|Congratulations to the five finalists in the running for the 2021 Arizona Teacher of the Year Award. Finalists, known as “Ambassadors for Excellence,” are under consideration for Arizona’s most prestigious award honoring teachers. Five semifinalists were also named. All ten teachers will be celebrated during the Arizona Teacher of the Year Awards virtual event streaming on October 23rd at 6:00pm. The five finalists, known as Ambassadors for Excellence, are:|
Special Education, Independence High School
Glendale Union High School District
Estevan Carreon is a special education teacher in the Glendale Union High School District. Mr. Carreon began his career in education as an instructional assistant before teaching at Cortez High School in Phoenix. He currently teaches students who have emotional disabilities and behavioral issues at Independence High School in Glendale, Arizona. Mr. Carreon holds a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education with an emphasis on emotional disabilities, and two Master of Arts degrees in Secondary Education and Educational Leadership. He has served three terms as president of the Glendale Union Education Association; and served on the board of directors for both the Arizona Education Association and the National Education Association.
Chemistry, Empire High School
Vail Unified School District
Hillary Stacey teaches chemistry at Empire High School in Tucson, Arizona. Her classroom is filled with relevancy, humor, and high expectations. She makes chemistry meaningful and enjoyable by using real world phenomena such as pollution, ocean acidification, and nuclear power to engage students and inspire them to dig deeper into chemistry. Having worked in science research, she challenges students to develop real skills they can use in the future. Creating lifelong science learners is Stacey’s main professional goal. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Montana State University, and her Master of Arts in Secondary Education from the University of Arizona.
Elementary Education, Puente de Hózhó
Flagstaff Unified School District
Jillian Hernandez is a fifth grade teacher at Puente de Hózhó in Flagstaff, Arizona. Puente de Hózhó is a Title I, public bilingual magnet school that has a Diné (Navajo)/English and Spanish/English program and is currently seeking authorization to become an International Baccalaureate School. Ms. Hernandez graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish from Northern Arizona University. She also obtained a Master of Education degree in the teaching of mathematics from Western Governors University.
Career and Technical Education, Wrightson Ridge School
Sahuarita Unified School District
Sara Mora is a passionate educator in the Sahuarita Unified School District. She got her education in elementary education from the University of Arizona. During her senior year, she was given the opportunity to hear the Arizona Teacher of the Year speak. During that speech, Mora felt validated that she was meant to be a teacher. There was no going back for Mora. Her passion had been ignited and as a result of that spark, that semester she was selected to be a Rodel Student Teacher. After graduating from the University of Arizona, Mora was hired to teach first grade at Robert M Bracker Elementary School in Nogales, AZ. Her current position is to help students discover their pathways and introduce the career and technical education classes available to them at the high school level.
Spanish, Chandler High School
Chandler Unified School District
Sara Wyffels is a Spanish teacher at Chandler High School in Chandler, Arizona. Wyffels currently teaches Spanish level 2 and International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement levels 5 and 6. Wyffels is a nationally board certified teacher who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Western Washington University and her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Portland. The ignition for her language learning journey was sparked by her study abroad experience in college. She is passionate about teaching the power of human connections through the Spanish language. Wyffels learned Spanish as a second language, which has shown her the power of human connections, adventure, and the beauty of the human spirit, which are themes integrated in her Spanish classes.
The five Semifinalists also will be celebrated during the Arizona Teacher of the Year Awards.
From left to right: Elizabeth Shaw, Social Studies, Rincon Vista Middle School, Vail Unified School District
Jeffrey Mann, World History, Flowing Wells High School, Flowing Wells USD
Nicole Powell, Elementary Education, Las Sendas Elementary, Mesa Public Schools
Sharisse Nunes, Elementary Education, Falcon Hill Elementary, Mesa Public Schools
Shaylyn Savage, Special Education, Sunset Ridge Elementary School, Pendergast ESD