2016 Rodel Exemplary Teachers

The Rodel Foundation of Arizona has announced 24 finalists for the 2016 Rodel Exemplary Teacher award. These teachers, representing the best of Arizona, were selected for their outstanding student achievement in high-need schools, effective classroom practices, and their potential to be outstanding mentors to future teachers.

The finalists are:

Name Grade District School Name City
Brie Barber Third Grade Flowing Wells Unified Walter Douglas Elementary Tucson
Donna Marie Bone Kindergarten Nadaburg Unified Nadaburg Elementary Wittmann
Tisha Cake Sixth Grade, Math Flagstaff Unified Sinagua Middle Flagstaff
Rachael Michelle de Fresart Fourth Grade Balsz Elementary Brunson-Lee Elementary Phoenix
Lauren Delfino-Karl Second Grade Chandler Unified San Marcos Elementary Chandler
Silvia Edgerton Fifth Grade Phoenix Elementary Herrera Elementary Phoenix
Denise Hall Second Grade Dysart Unified Riverview School El Mirage
Sarah Hendricks Kindergarten Flagstaff Unified John Q. Thomas Elementary Flagstaff
Jillian Hernandez Fifth Grade Flagstaff Unified W.F. Killip Elementary Flagstaff
Meredith Hey Fourth/Fifth Grade Mesa Public Schools Irving Elementary Mesa
Danielle L. Johnson
Sixth Grade Phoenix Elementary Dunbar Elementary Phoenix
Jenny Kaste 4-6, Math Crane Elementary Mesquite Elementary Yuma
Polly Ann Kimminau Seventh Grade, Math Amphitheater Public Schools La Cima Middle Tucson
Ann Lively Fifth/Sixth Grade, ELA and Social Studies Glendale Elementary Horizon School Glendale
Sarah Mikula 6-8, SPED Resource Laveen Elementary Maurice C. Cash Elementary Laveen
Shannon Perna Sixth Grade Paradise Valley Unified Palomino Intermediate Phoenix
Anna Reagle Fifth Grade Yuma Elementary Alice Byrne Elementary Yuma
Sonya Alvarado Rosales Second Grade Sunnyside Unified Elvira Elementary Tucson
Jennifer Ruiz Sixth Grade Mesa Public Schools Hawthorne Elementary Mesa
Christina Smith K-6, SPED Resource Laveen Elementary Trailside Point Elementary Laveen
Jeannie Swanson Kindergarten Madison Elementary Madison Camelview Elementary Phoenix
Amy Tixier Third Grade Buckeye Elementary Inca Elementary Buckeye
Josh Topp 7-8, Math Crane Elementary Crane Middle Yuma
Donna M. Varma Third Grade Amphitheater Public Schools Rio Vista Elementary Tucson


The 2016 Rodel Exemplary Teacher cohort will be announced during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend through media partnerships, Rodel’s social media pages, and on www.rodelaz.org.

“We’re delighted to recognize outstanding Arizona teachers,” said Jackie Norton, Rodel President & CEO. “Now in our 13th year, the 2016 Exemplary Teachers will join an elite group of educators who have been asked to share their expertise by mentoring the promising student teachers who will lead tomorrow’s classrooms.”

“The Rodel Teacher Initiative is focused on ensuring Arizona student teachers are equipped to become highly effective teachers in year one of their careers. Outstanding mentors guide student teachers from colleges of education across Arizona to grow and develop into effective educators,” said Howard Paley, Rodel COO. “These Exemplary Teacher finalists have been recommended by their administration and observed and interviewed by the Rodel team as we look for the best mentors to guide the next generation of teachers. It is inspiring to watch these teachers engage and educate the youth of Arizona.”

The Rodel Exemplary Teacher Initiative honors extraordinary teachers and asks that they each mentor high‐potential student teachers from local colleges of education. What sets the program apart from typical student teaching programs is that mentor teachers are selected based on their outstanding student achievement in high‐need schools, their ability to mentor new teachers, and the recommendation of their principals and Rodel’s observation team. This ensures that student teachers are learning from the best. In addition, Rodel provides further training and support to both mentors and student teachers to assure Promising Student Teacher Graduates start their careers as well-prepared, effective educators.

2016 marks the first year that the Rodel Teacher Initiative will be recognizing Exemplary Teachers in Yuma County. Please see this press release for details about Rodel’s new partnership with the Yuma County School Superintendent and the Arizona Community Foundation of Yuma.


The Rodel Foundation of Arizona’s vision is for Arizona to have one of the best pre-kindergarten through grade 12 educational systems in the country by 2020. For more information on the Foundation’s mission and initiatives, contact Rodel at 480-367-2920 or visit www.rodelaz.org.