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Lynette Stant Named 2020 AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year


October 24th, 2019

Lynette Stant, a 3rd grade teacher at Salt River Elementary in the Salt River Schools district is the Arizona Educational Foundation’s 2020 Arizona Teacher of the Year.

Stant was selected from the five 2020 Ambassadors for Excellence that were identified by the foundation last month and announced at the Arizona Educational Foundation’s annual awards luncheon today in front of more than 600 Arizona educators, elected officials and business leaders. She is the first teacher working in a Bureau of Indian Education school to be named an Arizona Teacher of the Year.

“I became a teacher because I don't ever want a Native American student to feel they are not prepared to meet the challenges of college,” says Stant. “Providing equitable learning opportunities in an environment that respects and honors Native American culture is essential.”

Stant grew up on the Navajo reservation, her parents spoke the Native language, and she was a first-generation college student. “What I bring to the classroom is an understanding of the historical trauma that education has played in the lives of Native Americans,” Stant said. “Although I can't change the past, I can affect the future. I am a mirror reflection of my students. When a student walks into my classroom, they know that when they leave at the end of the day, they remain in my heart. The legacy I want them to build for themselves is that they are deserving of the best education possible.”

Lynette Stant is a fifteen-year veteran elementary teacher who teaches 3rd grade in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. She holds a master’s degree in Education from Grand Canyon University, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University. Mrs. Stant is a Gates Millennium Scholar and part of the GMS Alumni community. In addition to leading her grade level team, she mentors new teachers, and serves as a cooperating teacher for future educators. Mrs. Stant was selected to present at the 2018 100Kin10 Teacher Forum to address the STEM teacher shortage.

Stant intends to spend her “year of service” as an Arizona Teacher of the Year advocating for equity in schools. “Every student, no matter their background or learning ability, deserves an equitable education. Not just those that come to school prepared with a backpack and a pencil box full of writing utensils, says Stant. “We must dedicate ourselves to the kids who need us the most, the ones with no backpacks but who have eyes filled with belief that education will change the course of their lives.”

As Arizona’s Teacher of the Year, Stant becomes a candidate for National Teacher of the Year. She will receive $15,000 from the Arizona Educational Foundation as well as a trip to the White House to meet the U.S. President, and will spend a week at International Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. She will also be given professional speech training, consideration to receive an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University, and an Arizona K12 Center Scholarship to pursue National Board Certification. She will also be a participant in the Fiesta Bowl Parade.

This year, for the first time in AEF history, the Arizona Teacher of the Year will also receive a classroom makeover by a professional designer, ASHPHX Designs. Goodmans Interiors will donate all of the furnishings.

The Teacher of the Year and Ambassadors have multiple opportunities during the year to make public appearances throughout the state, speaking to professional, civic, educational, parent and student groups. To book an appearance, please contact Kim Graham at

Additionally, AEF named its four Teacher of the Year finalists, called “Ambassadors for Excellence,” who will serve with Stant as spokespersons for their profession, advocating for excellence in the classroom by making presentations statewide to education, civic, government, and professional organizations.

The four 2020 Ambassadors for Excellence are:

· Ben Collinsworth, Pre-K Literacy and STEM teacher at the Emily Meschter Early Learning Center in the Flowing Wells Unified School District;

· Nate Rios, 11th & 12th Grade U.S. Government & History at Flowing Wells High School in the Flowing Wells Unified School District;

· Sheila Rowe, 6th Grade English Language Arts teacher at Coyote Ridge Elementary School in the Glendale Elementary School District; and

· Taryn Tidwell, Middle School Choir, Musical Theatre, and Drama teacher at Shepherd Junior High in Mesa Public Schools.

Five additional teachers were selected as Semifinalists:

· Jessica Buttles, Kindergarten & SEI teacher at Sunburst Elementary in the Washington Elementary School District;

· Lauren Cluff, K-6 Reading Interventionalist at Hughes Elementary in Mesa Public Schools;

· Angie Edington, Special Education Preschool teacher at Faith North Early Childhood Learning Center in the Phoenix Elementary School District;

· Jennifer Fowler, 10th-12th Grade English, Ed Professions, and Literacy Coach at Greenway High School in the Glendale Union High School District; and

· Alison McElwee, 3rd Grade teacher at Mountain View Elementary in the Humboldt Unified School District.

AEF’s annual Teacher of the Year program is the only statewide program to spotlight and honor Arizona’s public school teachers for excellence in teaching. The annual Teacher of the Year program is the premier event of the Arizona Educational Foundation, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to spotlighting the exceptional work of public schools.

“Public schools in Arizona employ some of the best and most dedicated teachers in the state,” says Kim Graham, Executive Director of the Arizona Educational Foundation. “Ms. Stant and the other teachers honored at the luncheon are outstanding examples of the quality of Arizona’s public school educators. I have the utmost respect and admiration for all of our teachers and the efforts they make daily to improve the lives of Arizona students.” said Graham.

Thanks to its generous sponsors and donors, the Arizona Educational Foundation continues to be able to provide this distinguished award for the 37th consecutive year. For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Kim Graham at


Arizona Educational Foundation

Kim Graham

(480) 421-9376


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