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Teacher of the Year

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The Teacher of the Year (TOY) program, with the support of the CFSD Foundation, highlights and celebrates the contributions of Catalina Foothills teachers. The program annually recognizes two exceptionally skilled and dedicated teachers from a group of 5 finalists. Nominees are those who have gained the respect and admiration of students, parents and co-workers, and who inspire learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.  They play an active and useful role in their communities as well as in their schools, distinguishing themselves as leaders.  

 

Teachers may be nominated by students, parents, co-workers, and/or administrators, or may self-nominate.  To be eligible, nominees must be AZ certified teachers in at least their 5th year of teaching, currently teaching pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 in the Catalina Foothills School District, spend the majority of their day in direct instruction of students, and be in good standing with their school principal and CFSD administration.    

 

After the nomination period has closed, a list of nominees will be given to principals at each site to determine eligibility. Eligible teachers are then notified that they have been nominated and given the opportunity to apply to become CFSD Teacher of the Year (only teachers who complete the application process will be considered). Applications will be blind-scored on a rubric by a committee consisting of parents from CFSD.  Five finalists will be scheduled for an interview as part of the final selection. The interview team (consisting of community members, CFSD alumni and the previous year’s TsOY) will make the final selection.  Two Teachers of the Year will be selected, and the remaining three finalists are designated as Distinguished Educators.  The Teachers of the Year and the three Distinguished Educators will be honored at their school sites and at the CFSD Foundation’s TOY Celebration.   


 

Congratulations to our 2023-2024 Teachers of the Year!

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Kylie Baker

Kindergarten, Manzanita Elementary School

Kylie Baker is in her tenth year as an educator, six of which have been teaching kindergarten at Manzanita Elementary School in CFSD. Mrs. Baker graduated from Southwestern University in 2014 with a BS in Elementary Education. She holds English As A Second Language and Special Education certifications, and is currently in the process of obtaining her Reading endorsement. Along with teaching, Mrs. Baker serves on the MZES Kindness Committee actively working to spread kindness on campus; as the site lead for the kindergarten entry assessment; and served on the Student Support Team, strategizing ideas to improve student success. Mrs. Baker has also served on many district teams to assist with curriculum decisions, improving the new teacher program, and she recently helped update the Science scope and sequence. During the 2021-2022 school year, Mrs. Baker received the Tucson Values Teachers Teacher Excellence Award.

Casey Virgil

7th Grade Science, Esperero Canyon Middle School

Ms. Virgil developed her passion for teaching while volunteering as a docent for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, giving guided tours and presenting educational programs. Ms. Virgil graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Anthropology in 2012 and her Master’s in Teaching and Teacher Education in 2016. She achieved National Board Certification for Science-Early Adolescence in 2023. At ECMS, Ms. Virgil has served as the science department chair for two years, offered guidance as a mentor for teachers, and actively participated in the PBIS and ECMS site committees. She volunteered to assist in the revision process of the state science standards and dedicated two summers to the Teachers in Industry program, collaborating with Tucson Electric Power.  Ms Virgil also participated in Recharge the Rain for four years, developing a rainwater harvesting curriculum for teachers and students which included three student-developed rain gardens. Ms. Virgil has facilitated professional development for teachers through collaborative inquiry teams, and currently leads a Critical Inquiry Team at ECMS, concentrating on differentiation to enhance students’ learning.

Congratulations to our Distinguished Educators!

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Dr. Mary Florek

Canyon View/Sunrise Drive Elementary Schools

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Mary Florek is an Ohio native who started out as a nurse in Geriatrics and Obstetrics before attending undergrad as an Elementary Education major, eventually getting her Master’s in Reading from Fresno State University. From there, Dr. Florek received her doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction from Kent State University. She began teaching in 3rd and 6th grade classrooms, eventually going into gifted education for students from elementary school through college.

 

Throughout her career in education, Dr. Florek has served as Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Director of Pupil Services, Principal, and Superintendent. Dr. Florek continued her work in the medical field until she was appointed Superintendent, and also wrote a children’s book, Billy B and His Lost Tooth

"Dr. Florek's approach to teaching is unparalleled... it's wonderful that she's guiding (students) to establish habits and skills that will set them up for future academic success, all while making them aware of how important these things are. It is clear how much she values the children she teaches."

Noah Mickey-Colman

Ventana Vista Elementary

 

Devon Inglee

Manzanita Elementary

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