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Teacher of the Year

CFSD Foundation Logo withour text (abstract head and books)
Nominations for 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year are now closed. 

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.



THANK YOU to our 2022 Teacher of the Year Sponsors!


Teacher of the Year Sponsors

Bourn Companies

Jump Ventures, Inc.


Distinguished Educator Sponsors

Red Point Development

Thank you to Alicia Barrios Photography 

for donating the beautiful portraits 

of our Teachers of the Year!

Congratulations to our 2021-2022 Teachers of the Year!

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Miriam Frieden

English, Catalina Foothills High School

Teacher of the Year Miriam Frieden is a proud alumni of CFSD, having attended Orange Grove Middle School and Catalina Foothills High School.  Miriam received her Master’s Degree from the University of Arizona in Teaching and Teacher Education, and has been teaching in Tucson for 11 years. 


As part of Catalina Foothills High School English Department, Miriam teaches English 10, AP Language & Composition, as well as AP Research.  Beyond the classroom, Miriam advises the CFHS Humanitarians Club and works with the AP Capstone program.  Miriam previously assisted with curriculum development and has worked with Falcon Connections.

"She is very kind and goes out of her way to make sure that all of us are okay. The first day she met us she taught us about believing in ourselves and growth mindset." (Student Quote)

Amber Robles

Spanish, Orange Grove Middle School

Amber graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Secondary Education, and has been teaching Spanish at Orange Grove Middle School for 13 years. 


Mrs. Robles teaches Spanish to all grade levels at Orange Grove, and is the only Global Perspectives and Spanish 2B teacher at the school.  Global Perspectives is designed to inspire youth to be engaged global citizens and develop future leaders in 21st-century skills and global competencies.  Amber created the curriculum for Global Perspectives, a process which necessitated a considerable amount of time research and preparation outside of the classroom.  Amber also personally interviews students new to the district to help place them in the correct level of Spanish learning.  Mrs. Robles has participated in professional development programs to enhance her teaching of meaningful and contextual lessons, so her students are able to use their language skills in and outside of the classroom. 

"Whenever I walk into Mrs. Robles class, I expect to learn something new or for my knowledge on the language of Spanish to deepen. After only a few months of Spanish, I love the class and the language. Mrs. Robles has made learning Spanish fun and she makes me want to continue learning the language. I look forward to her class everyday because the class is interactive and Mrs. Robles is such a sweet teacher. Mrs. Robles is not only a great teacher, but a great person. She is kind, funny, and caring. She loves to help students out and I feel comfortable asking her for help. The Teacher of the Year should not only be the best teacher, but a good person, and Mrs. Robles is both." (student quote, shortened from original)

Congratulations to our Distinguished Educators!

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Shireen Bezhadi

Catalina Foothills High School, English

Shireen began her teaching career in Chicago, after graduating from the University of Wooster with a degree in English and Secondary Education. There, she taught at a private middle school and went on to receive her Master’s Degree in English Literature from Northwestern University.

Shireen later transitioned to teaching in public school, teaching not only English and Literature, but also Theater Arts. While at the high school, Shireen ran the in-house Tutoring/Resource Center and served as the theater director. Her family moved to Tucson in 2015, where Shireen taught in TUSD before finding her “nesting” place as a CFHS Falcon. She now teaches 9th and 10th grade English, as well as co-teaches the Yearbook class. Shireen further contributes to CFHS by volunteering as an athletic gate worker at numerous school athletic events, and on the weekend she supervises classes for Community Schools such as SAT Prep or Driver’s Ed.

"Shireen builds these [strong student] relationships through genuine empathy, honest respect for student concerns, and empowering her students by giving them a safe space to share their thoughts and develop their voices. Her students feel "heard" and valued. This is what allows her to increase the rigor and push her students to their full potential."

Lee Tompkins

Orange Grove Middle School


Mr. Tompkins has been part of the CFSD faculty for nearly 25 years.  A graduate of the University of Arizona, Lee also received his Masters in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Lee began teaching Spanish at Catalina Foothills High School before moving to Orange Grove Middle School.  At Orange Grove, he serves in multiple roles in addition to his classroom instruction, including Dean of Students and Principal of for Credit Summer School.  Previously, Lee has acted as the Athletic Director and Spanish Department Chair at OGMS.

"I was very happy to see that I had [Senor] Tompkins again for Spanish in 7th grade. This year, class has been very different because we are in person. [Senor] Tompkins' lessons are fun and interesting, and they make Spanish feel natural and real. I have learned a lot, and I am motivated to learn more. I feel comfortable enough to challenge myself into reading Spanish above my level, to see if I can figure it out. [Senor]Tompkins has made a point to tell me that he believes in my ability to learn and that the most important thing for my learning is to be motivated about learning, and to be purposeful. When I am in his class, I feel both of those things." (student quote)

Bernadette Moreno

Catalina Foothills High School 


Mrs. Moreno graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in secondary science education and she teaches Chemistry at Catalina Foothills High School.  Beyond the classroom, Bernadette helped to establish JTED science courses including Forensic Science and Chemistry: Forensics, a first for the district and the state.  Mrs. Moreno began a HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) chapter, which has participated successfully in regional and state competitions, and also served in multiple coaching roles for CFHS cheer for nine years.  Bernadette has been recognized by the National Honor Society of High School Scholars as a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction.

"My daughter took both Honors Chemistry and AP Chemistry with Ms. Moreno while a student at CFHS. These courses were certainly 2 of the 3 most difficult and rigorous courses she took at CFHS (AP Physics is the 3rd) and she definitely had to work hard to earn an A in both. Today, my daughter is a sophomore in college and she easily earned A’s in the introductory chemistry courses. Ms. Moreno understood the road ahead of them and believed in their potential to master the content if they followed her pedagogical path. These experiences gave my daughter the confidence to tackle challenging paths and she has declared a systems engineering major with chemical engineering and economics minors." (parent quote, above quote shortened from original)



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