Arizona Educator Inducted into National Teacher Hall of Fame

Phoenix, AZ, April 11, 2022 – It was a great day at Maryvale High School in Phoenix as the 2019 AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year®, Kareem Neal, learned he had been inducted into the National Teacher Hall of Fame. The surprise ceremony took place on April 11th at Neal’s school, as family, friends, and fellow AEF Arizona Teachers of the Year and AEF staff joined in the celebration. Neal is the first teacher from Arizona to be inducted into The National Teachers Hall of Fame.

Photo Courtesy of Vanessa Herb, Phoenix Union High School District
Photo Courtesy of Vanessa Herb, Phoenix Union High School District

A veteran teacher of 23-years, Neal is a Special Education teacher for 9th through 12th graders at Maryvale High in the Phoenix Union High School District. Neal is one of only five teachers from throughout the U.S. to be inducted into The National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2022. In June, Neal will join the four other educators from New Jersey, California, Ohio, and Connecticut for a series of recognition events in Emporia, Kansas, which include presenting a livestreamed roundtable discussion, participating in community events, helping to re-dedicate the National Memorial to Fallen Educators, and being honored at the banquet and induction ceremony. The five inductees will also be honored at a reception hosted in May by the National Education Association at their Washington, D.C. headquarters—as a follow-up to Teacher Appreciation Week.

Richard Knoeppel, a 2019 inductee, nominated Neal with these words: “Kareem Neal has dedicated his career to helping students with severe cognitive disabilities, embracing diversity, and supporting young Black students, encouraging them to become educators. He works tirelessly elevating education and serving others, through advocacy, mentoring, and raising awareness.”

Photo Courtesy of Vanessa Herb, Phoenix Union High School District

Dr. Pam Roggeman, AEF Board President was also on-hand for the ceremony and had these words to share: “We could not be more thrilled for Kareem to have this recognition. Since becoming the AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year in 2019, he has been a tireless advocate for special education and restorative justice practices. He is a tremendous leader in our state and a sought-after speaker and facilitator for organizations and education institutions throughout the nation. We’re so proud of him and all that he has accomplished.”

AEF Executive Director, Kim Graham, who was present at the ceremony, stated: “The AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year program is all about elevating the teaching profession and building awareness around the incredible impact that public school teachers make every single day in their classrooms and beyond. Kareem is a tremendous education leader and public school advocate who has dedicated his life to teaching.”

Kareem Neal describes his teaching philosophy for his self-contained Special Education classroom: “When students leave my class, I want them not to have to rely on other people to do everything for them. That is number one. Our work in my class is validated by the number of students who are currently working in the community near school or are doing sheltered employment rather than living in a group home, staying at home, or attending day programs. My classroom community and structure allow for the students to thrive in roles that they wouldn’t traditionally thrive in.”