Josh Meibos said he initially was uneasy with the title Ambassadors for Excellence when he opened the email to learn he was one of the top five nominees for Arizona Teacher of the Year 2018.
Meibos was named Arizona Teacher of the Year at Arizona Educational Foundation‘s Teacher of the Year Awards luncheon in Phoenix today held at The Arizona Grand Resort before more than 500 attendees, including Arizona educators, elected officials and business leaders. The annual Teacher of the Year program is the premier event of the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF), a statewide nonprofit organization that promotes and awards the exceptional efforts being made in Arizona public schools.
Video: 2018 AZ Teacher of the Year Josh Meibos by Lauren Negrete/AZEdNews
Meibos, a physical education teacher for grades K-6 at David Crockett Elementary School in Balsz Elementary School District in Phoenix, said he deeply appreciates the honor and the chance it gives him to speak about educators’ concerns.
“It’s an opportunity to advocate for my field, physical education, for men in elementary teaching roles and the overall current climate of teaching in Arizona,” Meibos said.
Meibos is in his seventh year of teaching at his school, which serves the largest refugee population in his district. There are 20 languages represented on his campus.
“I’ve recognized the opportunity for creativity and to develop a curriculum that is relevant to my students’ cultures and talents,” Meibos said. “My goal as a physical education teacher is to ensure that I’m teaching to develop physically active lifelong learners.”
While teaching provides many intrinsic rewards, there are a number of challenges educators deal with every day.
Arizona’s low national ranking in teacher pay and working conditions that are “unacceptable” are two of the greatest challenges to teaching here, Meibos said.
“It’s not just 180-school days, there are teachers out there that work all year-round teaching and planning, and I think that needs to be recognized and valued,” Meibos said.
The median pay for Arizona elementary teachers averages about $42,474, which ranks 50th in the nation, while the median salary for high school teachers is about $47,890, coming in at 49th in the nation.
As AEF™ Arizona Teacher of the Year, Meibos will compete for the title of National Teacher of the Year, the opportunity to meet the U.S. President and attend international space camp in Huntsville, Alabama. He will also receive a host of awards and recognition including a $15,000 cash award, professional speech training, and a full scholarship toward an advanced degree at Argosy University.
“Mr. Meibos and the other teachers honored at today’s luncheon are shining examples of the thousands of outstanding teachers in Arizona’s public school system. I have the utmost respect and admiration for all of them. Today is a day of celebration for Arizona’s teachers,” said Bobbie O’Boyle, executive director of Arizona Educational Foundation.
Thanks to generous sponsors and donors, the Arizona Educational Foundation continues to be able to provide this distinguished award for the 35th consecutive year.
Also, AEF named its four Teacher of the Year finalists, called “Ambassadors for Excellence,” who will serve with Meibos as spokespersons for their profession, advocating for excellence in the classroom by making presentations statewide to education, civic, government, and professional organizations.
The four 2018 Ambassadors for Excellence are:
• Amy Ball, kindergarten teacher at Madison Traditional Academy in Madison Elementary School District, Phoenix;
• Allison Davis, kindergarten teacher at Knox Gifted Academy in Chandler Unified School District, Chandler;
• Erica Davis, twelfth-grade Advanced Placement English teacher in Basha High School of Chandler Unified School District, Chandler;
• Justean Palmer, fifth-grade math teacher at Canyon Ridge School in Dysart Unified School District, Surprise.
Video: 2018 AZ Teacher of the Year finalists by Lauren Negrete/AZEdNews