Teacher of the Year Award

ARSA Rural Teacher of the Year 2024

The Arizona Rural Schools Association has been privileged to honor educators from around the state that are making an impact in their rural communities for over thirty years. We are pleased to continue this tradition of recognizing excellence! The Rural Teacher of the Year award procedures ensure greater access for more teachers from around the state and an easier nomination and application process.

The 2024 application is now OPEN! Submit your nomination by April 15.

Nomination Form



Winning Teacher of the Year Awards Package

Rural Teachers of the Year Finalists

  • $500 cash prize
  • Registration for ARSA Conference with hotel accommodations
  • Awards dinner
  • Candidate for Arizona Rural Teacher of the Year
  • Membership to the Borderlands Rural Teacher Caucus for rural education advocacy work
  • Podcast feature on The Rural Scoop

State Rural Teacher of the Year

  • $1,000 cash prize
  • Registration for ARSA Conference with hotel accommodations
  • Awards dinner
  • Membership to the Borderlands Rural Teacher Caucus for rural education advocacy work
  • Candidate for NREA Teacher of the Year
  • Travel and registration for NREA Annual Conference for TOY and guest
  • Non-voting seat on the ARSA Executive Board for one calendar year
  • Seat on the ARSA TOY Selection Committee for the 2024 award process
  • Speaking opportunity at the ARSA Annual Conference in September, 2024
  • NAU Rural Resource Center Advisory Board seat for one calendar year
  • Co-Host opportunity on The Rural Scoop podcast

Please note that current nominations are closed.

Nomination Process

Community members, students, co-workers, school or district administrators, or county leaders can nominate rural teachers through an online nomination form. To be considered for the award and continue on with the Rural Teacher of the Year process, the candidate must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Full-time certified teacher working in a rural school in Arizona. These schools must be a state-accredited or a Bureau of Indian Education rural institution.
  • Teacher of Record in any content area for grades preschool through grade 12.
  • Minimum of three years of completed teaching experience in a rural school setting.
  • Under contract with a rural school district for the following school year.

The deadline for nominations is 12:00 a.m. on April 15, 2024.

All teacher candidates that meet the qualifications will receive an online application. Teacher candidates must complete and submit the application to be considered for one of the ten finalists. Teachers that receive multiple nominations will fill out a single application. To be considered for the ARSA Rural Teacher of the Year for 2024, please complete the application by May 15, 2024.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Melissa Sadorf, ARSA Executive Director, at (520)266-0081.

Nomination Form


Teacher of the Year 2023 - Allison Mitkowski

Allison Mitkowski

Past Teachers of the Year

  • 2022 - Ms. Elizabeth Colton Crane Elementary School District
  • 2021 - Mr. Ty White, Willcox Unified School District
  • 2020 - Ms. Vanessa Arredondo Douglas Unified School District
  • 2019 - Mr. Dean Pederson Pine-Strawberry School District 
  • 2018 - Major Fiorella Globe Unified School District 
  • 2017 - Mr. Rudy Basaldua Paloma Unified School District       
  • 2016 - Lela Schober, Williams Unified School District
  • 2015 - Virginia Sautner, Lake Havasu Unified School District
  • 2014 - Margie Loone, Willcox Unified School District
  • 2013 - Torie Ellison, Toltec School District
  • 2012 - Marlene Armstrong, Payson Unified District
  • 2011 - Shaun Martin, Chinle High School
  • 2010 - Tom White, Alpine Elementary School
  • 2009 - Laura Soto, Hyder School District
  • 2008 - Amy McBroom, Grand Canyon School District
  • 2007 - Laura Ibarra, Mary L. Welty School
  • 2006 - Heather Johnson, Wallace Elementary School
  • 2005 - Anna Van Zile, Payson High School
  • 2004 - Dana Gaskin, Palo Verde Elementary
  • 2003 - Ferrell Adams, Show Low High School
  • 2002 - Renell Heister, Mogollon High School
  • 2001 - Jomel Jansson, Benson Middle School
  • 2000 - Lois Rodgers, Patagonia High School
  • 1999 - David Henson, Thatcher High School
  • 1998 - M. Elizabeth, Blong Concho Elementary
  • 1997 - Jeff Peters, Antelope Union High School
  • 1996 - Jodi Lorenz, Payson-Frontier Elementary
  • 1995 - Jim Schrimpf, Patagonia Middle School
  • 1994 - Linda Aragon, Hyder Elementary