Teacher of the Year

The AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year program spotlights the contributions of outstanding public school teachers throughout Arizona.

The Teacher of the Year program annually recognizes 10 exceptionally skilled and dedicated pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public school teachers. Nominees are those individuals who have gained the respect and admiration of students, parents, and co-workers. They play an active and useful role in their communities as well as their schools, often distinguishing themselves as leaders. They have a superior ability to help all students achieve.

The nomination period for AEF’s 2015 Arizona Teacher of the Year is now closed. However, teachers do not need to be nominated in order to apply for the award. Applications for 2015 Arizona Teacher of the Year are due on August 29th, 2014.

The 2015 Arizona Teacher of the Year Luncheon  will be held on Thursday, November 20th, 2014, at the Arizona Biltmore.  To purchase tickets to the next luncheon or to see a list of sponsorship options and benefits, please click here:  Luncheon Tickets and Sponsorship.

A special broadcast of the 2014 Teacher of the Year awards aired on Eight/Arizona PBS at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, January 31st, 2014. To see the special, click the following link: AZ PBS TOY Special


Congratulations to the 2014 Teacher of the Year, Ambassadors for Excellence and Semi-Finalists:

Teacher of the Year:

  • Beth Maloney, 5th grade, Sunset Hills Elementary School, Surprise (Dysart Unified Unified District)

Ambassadors for Excellence:

  • Dayna Burke, 1st grade, Sahuarita Primary School, Sahuarita (Sahuarita Unified District)
  • Tara Dale, 7th grade General Science, Akimel A-al Middle School, Phoenix (Kyrene School District)
  • Tabetha Finchum, 4th grade, Centennial Elementary School, Tucson (Flowing Wells Unified School District)
  • Jonathan Parker, 11th grade AP US History, Thunderbird High School, Phoenix (Glendale Union High School District)

Semi-Finalists:

  • Robert Becker, 9th-12th grade Mathematics, Flowing Wells High School, Tucson (Flowing Wells Unified District)
  • Amy Furman, 7th grade English Language Arts, Kyrene Aprende Middle School, Chandler (Kyrene Elementary School District)
  • Christine Sapio, 9th – 12th grade Physics, Coconino High School, Flagstaff (Flagstaff Unified School District #1)
  • Elizabeth Schley, 8th grade Social Studies, South Valley Junior High School, Gilbert (Gilbert Unified School District)
  • Mike Schmidt, 9th-12th grade Mathematics, University High School, Tucson (Tucson Unified School District)

About the Teacher of the Year Program


When Does It Happen?

  • April – Applications become available to schools and teachers statewide
  • August 29th, 2014 – Applications are due to Arizona Educational Foundation
  • September 25th – Finalists are notified
  • October 6th & 7th – Interviews are conducted
  • November 20th, 2014- 2015 Teacher of the Year is named – to purchase tickets or tables for the award luncheon, please click here: TOY Luncheon Tickets

How Does It Work?

Teachers may self-nominate, be nominated by a student, co-worker, administrator, school or district committee, friend or family member to apply for the award.  To be considered for the award, teacher candidates must submit a written application that is reviewed by a panel of judges consisting of educators, students and members of the business community. Ten finalists are selected from the written applications.

The 10 finalists are asked to prepare a 15-minute DVD teaching in the classroom. The final selection process includes review of the DVD, an interview and an impromptu speech by each of the 10 finalists. Following that process, the Teacher of the Year is selected, four “Ambassadors for Excellence” are selected and five remain semi-finalists. All 10 are honored at the annual awards luncheon. The Teacher of the Year and Ambassadors have multiple opportunities during the year to make public appearances throughout the state, speaking to professional, civic, educational, parent and student groups.

Former Teachers of the Year, Ambassadors and Semi-Finalists are ineligible to reapply for the award.


What Are the Rewards?

The Teacher of the Year

  • $ 15,000 cash award
  • Represent Arizona as our National Teacher of the Year candidate
  • Trip to International Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.
  • Meet the President of the United States
  • Full scholarship toward an advanced degree at Argosy University
  • Professional speech training
  • Is considered by the Arizona Board of Regents to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Northern Arizona University
  • Invited to serve as an adjunct professor for one year at NAU
  • Receives equipment and training from SMART Technologies, ULC
  • From the Arizona K12 Center receives: $1,900 scholarship toward National Board Certification; 3 coaching Saturdays; registration at National  Board Summer Institute, Teacher Leadership Institute and Working Retreat
  • Receives a “Teacher of the Year” ring from Herff Jones
  • Receives a school-wide ice cream party compliments of Blue Bell Creameries
  • Participation in the Fiesta Bowl Parade (pending)
  • One-year membership to Treasures 4 Teachers
  • Serves for one year as an advocate for the teaching profession by making public appearances statewide, speaking to professional, business, education, civic, parent and student groups

The 4 Ambassadors

  • Receive a $5,000 cash award
  • Receive professional speech training
  • Receive a scholarship from Argosy University for 50% of the cost of tuition toward an advanced degree
  • From the Arizona K12 Center receives: $1,900 scholarship toward National Board Certification; 3 coaching Saturdays; registration at National  Board Summer Institute, Teacher Leadership Institute and Working Retreat
  • Receive a schoolwide ice cream party compliments of Blue Bell Creameries
  • Serve for one year as an advocate for the teaching profession by making public appearances statewide, speaking to professional, business, education, civic, parent and student groups
  • Participate in the Fiesta Bowl Parade (pending)
  • Receive SMART Technology for the classroom
  • One-year membership to Treasures 4 Teachers

The 5 Semi-Finalists

  • Receive a $1,000 cash award
  • Receive a scholarship from Argosy University for 25% of the cost of tuition toward an advanced degree
  • From the Arizona K12 Center, receives complimentary registration at the Annual Teacher Leadership Institute
  • Receive a schoolwide ice cream party compliments of Blue Bell Creameries
  • Receive SMART Technology for the classroom
  • Participate in the Fiesta Bowl Parade (pending)
  • One-year membership to Treasures 4 Teachers

*The National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) program is the oldest and most prestigious honors program to focus public attention on excellence in teaching. It is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in partnership with Voya Foundation and People to People Ambassador Programs.