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Arizona Educational Leader Named Recipient of the 2023 Carolyn Warner Legacy Award

Arizona Educational Foundation AEF® Arizona Teacher of the Year® News

Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF®) Congratulations to Andy Townsend, AEF 2023 Carolyn Warner Legacy Award Recipient

Phoenix, Arizona, September 30, 2022 — Andy Townsend is the fourth recipient of the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF®) Carolyn Warner Legacy Award. Townsend, a 2011 AEF Ambassador for Excellence (a finalist for the Arizona Teacher of the Year® Award), now serves as the Principal of Elvira Elementary School in the Sunnyside Unified School District #12.

Having served the Elvira community for over 16 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator, Townsend has dedicated his career to Elvira and is honored to represent the community. When Andy was named a 2011 AEF Ambassador for Excellence, he was a 5th grade teacher at Elvira, later becoming the school’s beloved principal. As an educator who values lifelong learning, Andy is currently working towards a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, and mentors new administrators through the Arizona Educational Foundation, and Pima County School Superintendent's Office. He is a frequent guest facilitator for AEF’s Principals Leadership Academy (PLAA) and has helped guide Elvira to maintain its A+ School of Excellence distinction, earning the recognition from 2017-2021, and again for 2022-2026. Andy has been recognized as the “Rookie Principal of the Year” (2015) by Arizona School Administrators; was a “40 Under 40” Honoree (2014) by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and was named a Rodel Exemplary Teacher by the Rodel Foundation of Arizona.

While currently pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, Andy also holds a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Arizona, a Masters of Education in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Arizona.

In his personal time, Andy volunteers on non-profit boards, and enjoys running, reading, traveling, learning, UA sports, and spending time with friends and family. He is also an avid tree planting advocate, spearheading the addition of over 80 trees to beautify the Elvira campus.

The Carolyn Warner Legacy Award is endowed by the family of Carolyn Warner in honor of their mother’s legacy and service to the state of Arizona as a champion of public education and advocate for teachers. Just as Carolyn embodied the attributes of a servant leader, this $1,000 annual award given in her name celebrates a former AEF® Arizona Teacher of the Year®, Finalist, or Semi-Finalist who has continued to make a difference long after their year of service as an AEF Teacher of the Year honoree or candidate was over. The recipient is someone who has remained active in elevating the teaching profession and continued to make an impact as a champion of public education.

Presentation of the award began in 2000 and is an annual beloved component of the Arizona Teacher of the Year Awards ceremony that will take place on October 15, 2022 at the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix. Past Teacher of the Year recipients of the Carolyn Warner Legacy Award include: Dr. Pam Roggeman, Dean of the College of Education; University of Phoenix (2020); Dr. Beth Maloney, Dir. of Arts Education, Act One (2021); and Karen Butterfield, Ed.D, WestEd (2022).



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2023 AEF® Arizona Teacher of the Year Awards | Arizona Educational Foundation | Presented by Desert Financial Credit Union

About Arizona Educational Foundation, AEF®

The mission of AEF is to celebrate excellence and cultivate equity in Pre-K-12th grade Arizona public education. This is accomplished through a variety of programs for teachers, administrators, and students. Some programs shine a spotlight on excellence; others provide a stepping stone to help support schools and educators on the road to awesomeness. In addition to the Arizona Teacher of the Year® program, AEF also coordinates the Arizona State Spelling Bee, the A+ School of Excellence® Award, the Principals Leadership Academy of Arizona, teachSTEM, Our World, and Take Your Legislator to School. AEF was founded in 1983, by then State Superintendent of Public Education, Carolyn Warner, who felt a nonprofit needed to be established to champion public education and recognize the great work of public school educators. AEF annually reaches over 500,000 students, teachers and administrators throughout Arizona. For more information visit, or contact

Arizona Educational Foundation AEF® – Giving Arizona Public Education the Shine it Deserves | Everyone's Story Includes a Teacher®

­­Media Contact:

Terri Bradford, AEF® Director of Communications & Digital Strategy

Mobile: 720-468-3996 | Email:


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