Teacher of the Year

The Teacher of the Year (TOY) program highlights the contributions of Catalina Foothills’ teachers and has the support of the CFSD Foundation. The program annually recognizes two exceptionally skilled and dedicated teachers from a group of 5 “Distinguished Educators”. 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.  

 

 

 

 

Teacher of the Year Sponsors 

Bourn Companies, LLC

Jump Ventures, Inc.

Red Point Development

Distinguished Educator Sponsor

Ascension College Planning

 

Golden Apple Sponsors

The Bhola Family

Manzanita FFO

Valley View FFO

Thank you to Kristi Harris Photography for donating the beautiful portraits of our Teachers of the Year!

Congratulations to our 2019-2020 Teachers of the Year!

Julie Michel 

5th Grade, Manzanita Elementary

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a teacher. My motivation behind wanting to be an educator was simple. Outside of my family, teachers were the people who had the greatest impact on my life. As an elementary student at Manzanita, Mrs. Scurran helped me overcome the mindset that “I wasn’t good at math.” While attending Orange Grove Middle School, Mr. Berry changed my reading life by forever hooking me on fantasy when he handed me a copy of A Wrinkle in Time. At Catalina Foothills High School, Mr. Dorson taught history through the lens of truthseeking, pushing my critical thinking skills beyond what I thought I was capable of. These teachers and so many more shaped my young life, and I saw no greater purpose than to hopefully do the same for others. I graduated from Northern Arizona University in December 2011 with a degree in Elementary Education. My goal was always to return to the school district that I felt so fortunate to have grown up in. I started my career as a Resource Teacher at Canyon View Elementary from January – May 2011. Teaching special education students molded my beliefs on what I could do to effectively differentiate in my own classroom. The following school year, I was hired as a 5th grade teacher at Ventana Vista. After two years, I moved to Manzanita Elementary, where I have happily been teaching fifth grade for the last seven years.

""She is caring, funny and connects with the kids in such a great way to make sure that they are feeling confident and secure.  Thank you Mrs. Michel for helping my son in so many ways!"

Kathleen Cusack

Social Studies, Catalina Foothills High School

I am a proud product of CFSD. I attended Sunrise Drive, Orange Grove, and Catalina Foothills. During my time in the district, I developed a deep love of learning and teaching others. Thanks to the thorough education I received in the District, I was able to attend Northern Arizona University on the AIMS Scholarship and graduated Summa Cum Laude from NAU with a Bachelor’s degree in History with an emphasis on secondary education. During my student teaching, I chose to return to the Catalina Foothills School District to learn from the very best and have been fortunate to teach at Catalina Foothills High School for 6 years. I have taught Global Issues, Western Civilizations, and US History. While at Catalina Foothills I worked on development teams in order to create district common assessments and diagnostics for the Social Studies Department as well as goals for the district-wide Social Studies transfer goals. In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to support other teachers in the department through my role as curriculum mentor and department chair. Last year, I collaborated with Mr. Singer, Mrs. Collier, and Mrs. Pike in order to create a class geared towards freshmen students in need of academic and organizational support. In this class, I have engaged with small groups of freshmen to help them realize their potential and recognize their ability to succeed in the school setting after the daunting transition from middle school.

 

""Kathleen is an exceptionally talented and hard working educator! Her enthusiasm and kindness help her connect with students and create a productive learning environment."

 

Congratulations to our Distinguished Educators!

Dr. Mary Florek

Canyon View and Sunrise Drive, IDS and Extended Math

Teaching and learning have been my passion.  My teaching career was NEVER a job.  I have been blessed with two professions: nursing and teaching.  My nursing career made me a much better educator.  As a nurse, I worked in the newborn nursery and labor and delivery. As a native of Ohio, I graduated from Youngstown State University with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.  My master's degree was from Fresno State University and my doctorate from Kent State University.

As an educator, I felt blessed loving all aspects of my profession.  My teaching career started teaching elementary students in grades 3 to 8, gifted education, and graduate students at the university level. I have been an Elementary Principal, a Gifted Specialist, Superintendent, and a Superintendent.  I have loved each position I have held in education, but the position that means the most is to me and where you make the biggest difference is working in the classroom with wonderful children.

Prior to accepting and administrative position, my gifted 7th /8th grade students in my science class gave me this motto that has guided my entire career. The students were at a party and a new song by Whitney Houston was playing.  All of the students at the party said the song reiminded them of me. The song was the "Greatest Love of All." The first stanza says: "I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way, show them the beauty they possess inside, give them a sense of pride...everyone is looking for a hero, someone to look up to..." this was the greatest compliment I could have ever received from students and I have cherished.

"Dr. Florek really makes the students think and has the students engaged in so many ways.  My daughter absolutely loves Dr. Florek and is so excited to go to her class and is sad when she has to miss it. Dr. Florek is such a positive role model for my daughter and all the other IDS students."

Ramon Sepulveda

CFHS, Marching Band and Jazz Band

Ramon Sepulveda is currently the Assistant Director of Bands at Catalina Foothills High School and the Band Director at Sunrise Drive Elementary. He assists managing and teaching the

Catalina Foothills Marching Band and conducts the Symphonic Band and Concert Band. In ddition, he assists with the Jazz Bands, various small ensembles, and the other concert

ensembles. In his time at Catalina Foothills the concert bands have received superior ratings at the ABODA Concert Festival. Under his supervision, the Marching Band has consistently

received superior ratings and first place finishes at both the ABODA and AZ Marching Band Association festivals. Under the co-direction of Mr. Sepulveda, the marching band was selected as one of the few high school marching bands to participate in the world-famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Mr. Sepulveda graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s of Music Education, Cum Laude. In 2017 Mr. Sepulveda was selected as the guest conductor of the 2018 6th Grade Southern Arizona Honor Band, and recently he was selected as the conductor of the 2021 Vail Middle School Honor Band. For the past decade Mr. Sepulveda has served as the AMEA Southeast Regional Band Chair, is a staff member of the Arizona Ambassadors of Music, and is

currently a member of the Trombone section in the Arizona Symphonic Winds. In his spare time, Mr. Sepulveda continually seeks to improve his teaching by regularly attending Music education conferences around the country, most recently including the Midwest Clinic annual conference in Chicago.

"Mr. Sepulveda is always patient and encourages the students to persevere. He also goes out of his way to know each student and make their band experience the best it can be."

Zoe Reinhardt

CFHS, Art

I moved from New York to Tucson and have been teaching Studio art as an educator in Catalina

Foothills High school for 5 years. Teaching art is a second career, but I have been involved in working with children through the arts for the last 15 years in children’s theatre, 

summer arts programs, and charity organizations. I graduated with a degree in theatre design through the

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in the UK, specializing in scenic painting, prop, and costume design. After graduating with a masters in Art Education from City University of New York, I continue to strive to give students a voice through the visual arts so they may express themselves, experiment, and explore their own narratives. I moved from New York to Tucson and have been teaching Studio art as an educator in Catalina Foothills High school for 5 years. Teaching art is a second career, but I have been involved in working with children through the arts for the last 15 years in children’s theatre, summer arts

programs, and charity organizations. I graduated with a degree in theatre design through the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in the UK, specializing in scenic painting, prop, and costume design. After graduating with a masters in Art Education from City University of New York, I continue to strive to give students a voice through the visual arts so they may express  themselves, experiment, and explore their own narratives.

"She has a kindness and positive attitude towards teaching and all her students. Her style of teaching elevates students confidence instead of tearing [them] down. She makes learning art fun and engaging."

Learn More

Catalina Foothills School District

www.cfsd16.org

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​520.209.7561

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The CFSD Foundation is a 501(c)3 that raises supplemental funds to attract, develop and retain excellent teachers in District 16.​​​