A Mesa education vet is changing the state as its only teacher on the Arizona State Board of Education.
While some say it’s best to quietly lead by example, others believe it’s important to make one’s voice heard. Amy Hamilton, National Board Certified Teacher, thrives in the threshold between teacher and leader. The Mesa teaching veteran succeeds as a teacher leader as she serves Arizona educators, students, and constituents as the only teacher on the Arizona State Board of Education.
When asked if she’s stayed in the spotlight because of the role, she can’t help but laugh. Hamilton admits many of her peers at Patterson Elementary School don’t know she’s a member of the state board. Also, she says her colleagues might not be aware of the position she holds on the Arizona K12 Center’s Board of Directors.
“I don’t like to come out and talk about my leadership roles because I would hate for people to stop talking,” Hamilton explains. “I want them to speak freely about their successes and challenges. Instead, I prefer to collaborate with my peers because that means everyone takes an individual role as a leader.”
Greg Miller, president of the Arizona State Board of Education, speaks to Hamilton’s extensive impact.
“Amy embodies everything a truly dedicated educator strives to be. She is compassionate, at the top of her craft as a teacher, and understands the big issues, while never forgetting the individual child and their very local needs. She is an outstanding leader and always brings the very best of everyone’s ideas to bear, providing insightful solutions to very sticky challenges,” said Miller. “Beyond her professional strengths, she is a woman of character, demanding the highest of her own personal expectations. I consider myself very lucky to call her my friend and hope she will always consider me one too.”
Andrew Morrill, President of the Arizona Education Association, claims Hamilton has mastered the balancing act of remaining a committed classroom educator, while serving in the political arena.
“It is difficult enough to stand for even a short time with one foot in the practitioner world of public education and one in the aggressive political culture that has come to characterize Arizona politics,” said Morrill. “But Amy has managed to stand firmly and responsibly in both for a number of years, gaining credibility for doing so. Amy is nobody’s fool. She stands strong for public education, and public school employees across Arizona can be very proud that Amy serves on the State Board of Education.”
With humility at her core, Hamilton doles credit to David Finley, Susan Marshall, and Maxine Sullivan, principals with whom she’s worked over the past 20 years.
“Every teacher deserves to work with a principal like David Finley in their teaching career. He was relentless and tireless in his pursuit to hire, develop, and maintain excellent teachers. Susan Marshall was the principal that encouraged me to pursue National Board. She didn’t tell me to try to achieve National Board Certification. Instead, she told me I was a Board-Certified teacher, I just needed to get the work done,” Hamilton explained. “And, Maxine Sullivan is a great lady. She could have retired a year ago, but stays at a difficult time to be in education. She is constantly searching for ways to improve teaching practices, support teachers, and increase student learning, while maintaining a great sense of humor.”
While admiration for her current and past supervisors is evident, the feeling appears to be mutual.
Sullivan, Principal at Patterson Elementary School, affirms Hamilton’s leadership abilities. The administrator claims Hamilton’s most evident asset is her desire to be a lifelong learner.
“It is her unfailing pursuit of new information, current instructional strategies, and knowledge related to our profession that I feel is her greatest strength,” Sullivan explained. “I would encourage Amy to continue to represent teachers and promote good decision-making at the state level. We need voices like hers to help focus on what is necessary, effective, and vitally important in education.”
Hamilton says one doesn’t need a particular title to make a difference. When she first joined Patterson Elementary School two years ago, after spending time in various Mesa public schools, another educator stopped her in the hall. At that moment, Jeanne Baker, Hamilton’s own first-grade teacher and role model, became a peer and friend.
“I’ve done things for years that we did in her class so long ago. Even with so many students in her classroom, she always made each student feel special. That’s what being a teacher is all about,” Hamilton explained. “She is my difference maker.”
Learn more about Hamilton and the Arizona K12 Center Board of Directors on the AZK12 website.