Five candidates nominated for 2024 Arizona Teacher of the Year

, The Arizona Republic
4 Min Read

The Arizona Educational Foundation has selected five out of 15 teachers to become the potential 2024 Arizona Teacher of the Year.

The award ceremony, sponsored by Desert Financial Credit Union, will celebrate the state’s highest honor for K-12 educators on Oct. 14 from 4-7:30 p.m. in the Madison Center of the Arts, at 5601 N 16th St., in Phoenix.

The finalists, presented on Aug. 24 as “Ambassadors of Excellence,” are:

  • Andrea Barallardos (Engineering-CTE/Physics), Douglas High School, Douglas Unified School District, serving 24 years as a teacher.
  • Efrain Casillas (Music), Porfirio H. Gonzales/Desert Oasis, Tolleson Elementary School District, serving 22 years as a teacher.
  • Marian Johnson (Mathematics/Special Education), Amphitheater High School, Amphitheater School District, serving 12 years as a teacher.
  • Kathleen Malkhassian (4th grade General Education), Thomas Elementary, Flagstaff Unified School District, serving 12 years as a teacher.
  • Rebecca Oravec (Art) Wrightson Ridge K-8, Sahuarita Unified School District, serving 6 years as a teacher.

The rest of the nominees are classified as Arizona’s top 10 teachers. While they no longer compete for the top prize, they are awarded a variety of gifts from AEF’s partner organizations. These gifts range from a membership to Treasures4Teachers, a keyboard case and iPad from Desert Financial Credit Union, a scholarship from the Arizona K12 Center to pursue National Board Certification, and more.


  • Caroline Chung-Wipff (ELA/Social Studies) Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies, Mesa Public Schools, serving 17 years as a teacher.
  • Clare Contreras (2nd grade General Education), Sahuarita Primary School, Sahuarita Unified School District, serving 15 years as a teacher.
  • Stephanie Likes (Theatre Arts/Stagecraft), Chandler High School, Chandler Unified School District, serving 15 years as a teacher.
  • Jessie McKinley (Computer Science & Robotics, Engineering), Madison Camelview, Madison Elementary School District #38, serving 23 years as a teacher.
  • Bridget Montoya (CTE-Education Professions/Math), Flowing Wells High School, Flowing Wells School District, serving 20 years as a teacher.

Honorable Mentions

  • Elizabeth Colton (STEM/CTE), Crane Middle School, Crane Elementary School District, serving 17 years as a teacher.
  • Kayce Kahl (5th grade General Education), Clarendon Elementary, Osborn School District, serving 14 years as a teacher.
  • Melody (Mia) Khayduangta (Math), Cesar Chavez High School, Phoenix Union High School District, serving 19 years as a teacher.
  • Jessica Marks (English), Aspire High School, Yavapai Accommodation School District #99, serving 15 years as a teacher.
  • Grazyna Zreda (Chemistry), Tanque Verde High School, Tanque Verde Unified School District, serving 25 years as a teacher.

The finalist earns a $15,000 prize package and subsidized travel to Teacher of the Year events, including a trip to the White House to meet President Joe Biden and a weeklong visit to the International Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. They are also considered to receive an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University.

All candidates will have professional speech and media training in preparation for the speeches they will present throughout their year of recognition.

Reach the reporter at [email protected].

, The Arizona Republic

2023-09-02 13:08:53 , "Camp Verde Arizona" – Vivrr Local

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