The Coconino County Education Service Agency (CCESA) awarded several local teachers in their 2021 Teacher of the Year ceremony Sept. 17 to “recognize and honor teacher excellence,” according to a press release.
“This past year, the COVID-19 pandemic presented multiple challenges for teachers and students. We have witnessed the strength and ingenuity of Coconino County teachers through these difficult times and would like to acknowledge those who have been exceptionally outstanding in developing inventive curriculum and strategies for supporting student learning during the 2020/2021 school year," said Coconino County Superintendent of Schools Cheryl Mango-Paget.
The 2021 Teacher of the Year was awarded to Joshua Brink of Desert View Intermediate School in Page. Brink is a music teacher, who is listed in the program as “pioneering the use of ukuleles in the elementary classroom” as well as developing remote and hybrid programs in response to the pandemic.
Susan Burdick of Thomas Elementary in Flagstaff and Trina Siegfried of Williams Elementary in Williams won the 2021 County Ambassadors for Excellence Award.
Teacher of the year prizes included a 2021 Camry from Findlay Toyota in Flagstaff and Theatrikos tickets, among other items.
The rookie award winners were all teachers at Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD). Jessica Spink of Sinagua Middle School won Rookie Teacher of the Year. She is a phase one Spanish teacher and 7th grade English teacher who graduated from NAU in December of 2019. She is also involved in the school's Drama Club.
Alianah Mijares of Marshall Elementary and Larissa Stack of Mount Elden Middle School won the 2021 Rookie Ambassadors for Excellence Award.
This was also the first year Coconino County gave an Educator Lifetime Achievement Award, to honor “a county educator who has exhibited a lifetime (twenty-plus) years of achievement in K-12 education,” according to a press release. The award acknowledges “achievement in leadership, teaching and service.”
The inaugural lifetime achievement award was presented to Principal Joe Gutierrez of Killip Elementary in Flagstaff.
“This year’s Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year finalists have distinguished themselves in their profession through their passion and commitment to the students they serve," Mango-Paget said. "They have demonstrated leadership in their field, collaboration with their colleagues, and commitment to their students, parents, and communities. [They] will serve as representatives of the type of exemplary teaching we see across Coconino County."