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2014 Educator of the Month Recipients

KellyKelly Meyer
Santan Jr. High
Chandler Unified School District

Science Teacher


Kelly is currently a 7th grade science teacher at Santan Junior High. Before joining the Santan team in 2005, she taught 7th and 8th grade science in the Minneapolis School District. She takes on a lot of roles on campus such as tennis sponsor, baseball coach, and WEB coordinator. Kelly has a good rapport with her students and often starts her class by catching up with what is going on in their lives. From "Chocolate Chip Cookie Mining" to "Chandler Geology Walk", the lessons that she teaches are always hands-on and fun for the students. When asked what she would do if she weren't a teacher, she replied, "nothing else, I love my job."


Pamela Smith
Canyon de Chelly Elementary School
Chinle Unified School District

Third Grade Teacher


Pam was nominated for this award by her principal J.D. Wolfe, who stated "In a short period of time, Mrs. Smith has established herself as a positive member of the staff at Canyon De Chelly Elementary School.  She is a contributing member of our Leadership Team and a true role model for her students."  Pam is a 3rd grade teacher at  CDCES, a first through third grade school, in Chinle, Arizona, which sits at the mouth of the beautiful  Canyon De Chelly, on the Navajo Reservation.  Prior to teaching in Chinle, she taught Pre-K, K, and 1st Grade, in Bucyrus, OH.  Having "Looped" with her very first class, for three years, she is aware of the need to make a classroom a caring community and enjoys the challenge of establishing an environment of respect and rapport.  Using differentiated learning, peer teaching, hands-on and small group instruction, on a daily basis, her class has the "hum" of activity and learning in action!  What does she enjoy most about teaching?  "I enjoy being with my students, seeing that look on their faces when they "get it" and that no two days are ever the same."

Irene Tsosie Bizahaloni
Chinle High School
Chinle Unified School District

Navajo Language Teacher


Irene is originally from Tselani - a place of many rocks.  "Teaching at Chinle High School on the Navajo reservation is the best job I've ever encountered, and love every minute."  Irene exclaimed.  She has been teaching Navajo Language for the past seven years.  Each day she looks forward to teaching, and every day she say she comes home with endless numbers of papers to grade, and enjoys every hour of the day.  One of her assignments is for her students to to write directions from the school to where they live all in Navajo.  After this assignment she uses their written work to get to their houses on weekends.  When the roads to their house is very muddy, then Irene parks her truck at the turnoff and treks through the mud to the house.  She on occasion gets stuck or lost, but always manages to find their home.  The parents reaction to this type of teaching and visiting is very welcome.  The parents usually say "More teachers should do this!"  Irene's teaching methods and motivational activities make Navajo Language learning a great experience for her students.  She feels her students are more respectful and want to attend school more with a positive attitude towards learning more of their Navajo language.


Patty Cisneros
Nevitt Elementary School (Formerly)
Tempe Elementary School District

Fourth Grade Teacher

University of Illinois
Coach Womens Wheelchair Basketball


Patty is in her first year of coaching the Illini women's team.  On March 1, 2008 they won the national championship by beating the University of Alabama 44-43.  Patty had played for the University of Illinois, helping them win two other National Championships during her playing career.  Patty is the captain on the gold medal winning U.S. Paralympics team.  Patty's co-workers and administrators at Nevitt continue to brag about what a great person, and teacher Patty is, and how students are truly inspired by her.  In addition to all of her athletic accomplishments, and numerous awards,  Patty is an outstanding inspirational speaker and motivator for people of all ages.

UpdatesPatty just made the 2008 USA Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team that will compete in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China this summer.  The tryout were held in Birmingham, AL.  "The tryouts were by far the hardest, most competitive tryout I've participated in."  Patty said.  She was named the USA Team Captain.  The first competition leading up to the Paralympics will be the Roosevelt Cup Challenge.  That will take place in Warm Springs, GA.  The USA team will compete against Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, and Mexico.  We are all wishing Patty and rest of Team USA the best of luck!


Jennifer GJennifer Gardner
Higley School
Higley Unified School District


Waiting on additional information.

Anthony GriffithAnthony
Cordova Middle School
Alhambra Elementary School District

6th Grade Teacher


Anthony Griffith was nominated by students in his classroom for Educator of the Month. The students said he was the BEST teacher they had ever had. Anthony has recieved numerous other prestigious awards in his teaching career including the Rodell Exemplary Award Winner in 2003, he has been featured in the AZ Republic, Additionally he has received the Academic Excellence Award in the Alhambra School District 2008, Fulton Homes Teacher of the Month. His students have been featured in the AZ Republic for writing assignments. He is very involved in numerous school programs including the Varsity/Junior Varsity Girls Basketball Coach. He has previously taught 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. Currently he is a PhD Student at ASU and is planning to graduate in May, 2009 after January defense. 

Update: Anthony not only received his PhD from Arizona State in May of 2009, he was congratulated and shook hands with President Obama, who was delivering his first commencement address as the President of the United States.

MelaneeMelanee Seiber
Apache ElementarySchool
Peoria Unified School District

1st GradeTeacher

Melanee is an extremely dedicated and hard working individual. She is driven to ensure her students are engaged at all times when presenting her lessons. She strives to incorporate numerous active particpation and hands on activities. This is Melanee's first year at Apache she, previously taught 1st grade at Washington Elementary School. She states, "She loves teaching 1st grade because she is committed and thoroughly enjoys giving her students a solid foundation for the remainder of the students educational pursuits. Melanee was nominated by a long time team teaching partner of hers in the Washington District.



Tyra Ripley
Cholla Middle School
Washington Elementary School District

ADOE certified school psychologist


Tyra was nominated by teachers in the Washington Elementary School District.Tyra began her career 14 years ago and hasn't looked back.  She has a passion for the work that she does and her specialty is assessment and diagnosis. Since she started in 1994 she has worked at Irvine Unified School District in California, Lakeview and Washington Elementary and Palo Verde and Cholla Middle School in the Washington School District.  Her work experience also includes a year at Black Canyon School (ADJC), as well as time with Virginia Beach City Public Schools . She received her bachelors degree from the University of Arizona, masters from Pepperdine University and Psyd (doctorate), from Argosy. Her co-workers stated, "Tyra rarely stops working as she teaches on-line courses for University of Phoenix, grad courses for NAU distance learning and is a practicum supervisor for grad school students.  She is driven, dedicated and is a tireless worker."


Carmen “Cat” Thompson
Cat ThompsonChinle High School
Chinle Unified School District

Language Arts Teacher

I’d like to nominate Carmen “Cat” Thompson, Language Arts teacher, at Chinle High School in Chinle, AZ as a teacher of the month. She is a dedicated and hard working teacher who always puts her student’s needs first. She is innovative and charismatic. Her students respect (and some adore) her, and her co-workers enjoy having her as part of their team.





Mary Ann Arnold RNMary Ann
Red Mesa Middle School
Red Mesa Unified School District

School Nurse


Mary Ann Arnold was nominated for Educator of the Month by one of her colleagues for her many years of service on the Navajo Reservation. Most of Mary Ann's career was with the Chinle Unified School District at the Elementary School. She has recently relocated to Tec Nos Pos (Four Corners) to be the school nurse in the Red Mesa District. Her many years working with the schools she has implemented various programs to promote healthier lifestyles through nutrion, exercise, and fitness plans. She has been extremely untiring in her efforts to foster healthier lifestyles and habits for the thousands of native american students she has helped through her career.

Cindy Amos

Lela Alson Elementary School

Isaac School District

Kindergarten Teacher


"Cindy is synonymous with all that makes education a learning and caring profession." was how Cindy was described when she was a recipient of an Esperanza award on October 22nd, 2009. Cindy began working as an instructioal assistant in the Isaac preschool family literacy program, later she became a Child Development Associate teacher. During this time she was taking classes toward her degree in elementary education. She later received her Master's Degree in English Language Development because of her desire to help student who struggle to learn English.

Her co-workers cite some of her many strengths as her unique ability to build positive and supportive relationships with her students and their parents, as well as her passion for teaching, and her caring attitude in wanting all her students to suceed.

She is also involved in numerous activities outside the classroom. Some of these include getting voter involvement in district bond elections, teaching Sunday school, and their confirmation program at her church. She also works with the elderly community singing at the neighborhood nursing facility, as well as volunteering there.

Cindy is not only a valuable asset to the Lela Alston School, she is a valuable asset to the whole community.


Andrew LebowitzAndrew
Nevitt School
Tempe Elementary School District

5th Grade


This is Andrew's first year of teaching 5th grade at Nevitt, although this is his 6th year at the school. He was nominated for this award by another teacher at Nevitt. He previously taught 3rd grade, and a majority of his current 30+ students, were in his 3rd grade classroom as well. With the diverse population and the amount of English language learners in his room Andrew has excelled and earned the respect and accolades of his peers, administrators, and the families of his students. He has tirelessly taken on extra duties during his tenure, including the School Leadership Team. One of the things Andrew loves about Nevitt is the sense of it being such a tight knit community. Andrew has recently completed a Masters degree in Educational Leadership through Arizona State University and graduated with high honors. In addition to all of his hard work at Nevitt and his own schooling, Andrew and his lovely wife Jenn are the new proud parents of son Kingston.


If you would like to nominate someone, including yourself, to be an Educator of the Month, please click here to make your nomination.

Thank You for any Nominations!


To view 2012 winners click here.

To view 2013 winners click here.






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Revised: 01/15/2014