Meet the Arizona TeacherSolutions Team

  • Dayna Burke

    Sahuarita Unified School District

    Dayna is a First Grade Teacher for the Sahuarita Unified School District. She has a bachelor's degree in...

    Dayna is a First Grade Teacher for the Sahuarita Unified School District. She has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Nebraska Wesleyan University, a post-baccalaureate degree in Elementary Education, a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership, and is a National Board Certified Teacher in Literacy: Reading and Language Arts. In 2014 she was named an Ambassador for Excellence in the Arizona Teacher of the Year Program.

     
    Dayna is in her eleventh-year teaching and has been fortunate to hold several leadership roles within and outside of her school district. She is a Professional Development Facilitator and frequently serves as an Instructional Coach, New Teacher Mentor, and Cooperating Teacher. She is a member of the Arizona K-12 Center's TeacherSolutions Team, provides support for National Board Candidates, advocates for high academic standards as the Arizona Core Advocate Captain for Student Achievement Partners, and is a Teacher Champion Fellow for the Collaborative for Student Success. Dayna believes in the power of teacher collaboration and enjoys every opportunity to learn from and support one another.
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  • Amy Casaldi

    Gilbert Public Schools

    An Arizona native, Amy earned an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University, B.S. Marketing, B....

    An Arizona native, Amy earned an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University, B.S. Marketing, B.S. Business Process Management and an M.Ed. In Gifted Education from Arizona State University. She has spent the past eleven years working in public education, K-12 and higher education, with nine of those years spent in the Gilbert Public Schools district. As a 5th grade teacher at Islands Elementary, Amy is passionate about student relationships and engagement, demonstrating that passion by bringing the outside world into the classroom. Amy has served on numerous committees including the Arizona State Standards Committees and district curriculum committees as well as serving most recently as an Arizona Hope Street Group Fellow. Amy was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award from her school, a scholarship from Engineering is Elementary to the Museum of Science in Boston, and a Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute Scholarship. When not working, Amy enjoys traveling and hosting parties with her husband, Heath, laughing at their two silly cats, and anxiously awaiting her National Board portfolio scores.

     

     

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  • Susan Collins

    Kingman Unified School District

    Susan Collins is a National Board Certified teacher in Kingman, AZ where she teaches general music for K-5...

    Susan Collins is a National Board Certified teacher in Kingman, AZ where she teaches general music for K-5 students at Manzanita Elementary. Susan earned a Bachelor's and Master's of Music Education from Delta State University, Cleveland, MS. Susan has engaged in teacher leadership on the local and state level in Mississippi and Arizona. Susan has served as a Hope Street Group Arizona Teacher Fellow, a National Board Candidate Support Provider, facilities professional learning in her district and has become a recognized voice for education advocacy. She writes for Stories from School Arizona, Leading From In the Classroom, and regularly appears in the Kingman newspaper.

    Susan identifies closely with two teacher leaders: Maria Montessori and Zoltan Kodaly. Maria Montessori was an early childhood educator in Italy who developed pedagogy that is used worldwide to meet the holistic needs of all learners. One of Montessori's key phrases is "follow the child." Zoltan Kodaly was a Hungarian musicologist who believed students need and deserve good quality music experiences and learn best from music that anchors them to who they are as humans. Both educators emphasized the need to develop children into responsible adults who are actively engaged in making their community a better place for everyone to live. 

     

     
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  • Jesse Delgado

    Tolleson Union High School District

    Jesse Delgado has been in the field of Special Education for the last 16...

    Jesse Delgado has been in the field of Special Education for the last 16 years. He currently serves in the Tolleson Union High School District as a Special Education Mentor. Originally, Jesse began his career as a Special Education instructional aide in a Life Skills classroom. After he earned his degree from Arizona State University in Elementary Education K-8 and Cross Categorical Special Education K-12, he entered the classroom as a Resource teacher teaching his students from Kindergarten to 3rd grade. During his time with the Tolleson Union High School District, Jess has served as an educator teaching students with disabilities as well as co-teaching. He is a strong advocate for Inclusion and has introduced the Best Buddies club to multiple schools within his district to support students with special needs. During his experience co-teaching, Jesse has discovered a passion connecting general education and special education teachers in a collaborative process that constantly builds on positive relationship building and has introduced professional development within his district that supports co-teachers. 

     

     

     
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  • Annie Diaz

    Washington Elementary School District

    Annie Diaz is an Instructional Coach for...

    Annie Diaz is an Instructional Coach for the Washington Elementary School District. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, Early Childhood Generalist, and an Arizona Master Teacher. In 2007, Annie received an M.Ed. in Early Childhood with an Emphasis in Reading and Early Literacy from Northern Arizona University and in 2013 received her Ed.D. in Teacher Leadership and Innovation from Arizona State University. Annie's dissertation topic studied the links between Cognitive Coaching and National Board Certification and why many teachers benefit from reflective coaching.

    The leader Annie most identifies with is the late Dr. Rita Pierson. In one of the famous TED talks, Pierson emphasizes how every child deserves a champion. Annie works hard to support teachers so that our students are cared about and know that we believe in them. We must believe in ALL children. They are mini humans with various backgrounds and every child deserves the best teacher. No matter how rich or poor, all children deserve teacher champions to help them succeed.

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  • Jaime Festa-Daigle

    Lake Havasu Unified School District

     

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    Jamie has 16 years of experience educating students in Lake Havasu Unified School District. She is currently the Director of Personnel and Technology for Lake Havasu Unified School District. She has served as an assistant principal at Lake Havasu High School. She's taught civics, economics, American History, English, and been an advisor for student council. Jaime has her Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education, Social Studies and English as a Second Language from Grand Canyon University. She received her Master's degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University and holds K-12 endorsements in English as a Second Language, Career and Technical Education, and Speech.

     

    Jamie is a National Board Certified Teacher, an AZ Master Teacher, a National Board Fellow, and has received many awards including the American Civic Educator of the Year Award, Lake Havasu Most Influential Teacher Award and the Arizona We the People Scholarship Teacher of the Year. A personal highlight for Jaime was the year she was invited to the Street Law Supreme Court Institute and had the opportunity to meet personally with Sandra Day O'Connor. Jaime has led accreditation efforts at her school for the past decade, sat on standards committees for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and Educators Rising, and has worked as part of the AZ TeacherSolutions Team since 2011. She sits on the Arizona Rural School Association, Only Orchids Charity, and the Arizona K12 Center Executive Boards.

     

    The leader Jaime most identifies with is James Madison. Not only did he see citizenship as a primary role of public schools, but he was also the type of leader who ensured tasks were accomplished while recognizing the need for compromise and the value in the views of others. James Madison came to the Philadelphia Convention early and crafted the Virginia Plan; when he was met with disagreement, he still worked to fight for ratification. Educational leaders are faced with decisions that require us to work together to develop strategies that will move our schools forward.

     

     


     

     
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  • Jen Hudson

    Paradise Valley Unified School District

    Phoenix born and raised, Jan attended Northern Arizona University and received her undergraduate degree in English Education. While at NAU, she...

    Phoenix born and raised, Jan attended Northern Arizona University and received her undergraduate degree in English Education. While at NAU, she received the Golden Axe Award and was lucky enough to be the President of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education. After college, Jen spent ten years at Explorer Middle School in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, where she taught 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts. Jen wanted to push her instruction and her student's learning, so she decided to pursue a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State Universtiy, which was completed in 2010. This desire to do more for her students continued through 2013, where she was named Arizona English Teachers' Association of Excellence and received her National Board Certification in English Language Arts/Early Adolescence. Jen's desire to learn and improve her practice also includes becoming a Master Teacher in 2017. In the 2018 school year, Jen will be a Mentor Teacher for the first year teachers in grades 7-12 in PVUSD and is looking forward to continuing to learn and grow with her beginning career teachers. 

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  • Sheri Loyd

    Dysart Unified School District

    Sheri Loyd is a 3rd grade teacher inspired to create a love of math for all students. She has a K-8 Math Endorsement and is Nationally Board...

    Sheri Loyd is a 3rd grade teacher inspired to create a love of math for all students. She has a K-8 Math Endorsement and is Nationally Board Certified in Middle School Math. Having been a Math Interventionalist for 6 years, she is passionate about creating classroom experiences that cultivate a growth mindset towards math being a challenge yet to be unlocked. In addition, Sheri has held different roles such as a Data Improvement Specialist and a 21st Century Coordinator. Through these roles she worked with teachers to analyze their date to drive their instruction. As a 21st Century Coordinator, Sheri ran an after-school program of about 150 students ensuring that all grant requirements were upheld. She is part of her districts Peer Mentorship Program and has mentored several teachers over the years. Sheri has a Bachelor's degree from ASU. She holds endorsements for math and early childhood. Sheri is passionate about education. She will continue to learn and grow to ensure that students can look back and remember that one teacher as the one who made the difference.

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  • Beth Maloney

    Dysart Unified School District

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    Beth Maloney is currently in her nineteenth year of teaching and enjoys every minute of her time in the classroom. She's taught kindergarten, third grade, and is currently teaching fifth grade. Beth is a National Board Certified Teacher and is a Candidate Support Provider for the Arizona K12 Center. She is a "founding mother" of the Arizona National Board Certified Teachers Network, a blogger on Stories From School Arizona, and a Media Fellow for Educators for Higher Standards.



    Beth has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and a Master's degree in Leadership and Supervision and was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Nothern Arizona University and is currently a doctoral candidate. Beth is honored to be the Arizona Educational Foundation's 2014 Teacher of the Year and appreciates having the opportunity to represent the teachers of Arizona.

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  • Josh Meibos

    Balsz School District

    Josh has been teaching elementary Physical Education at Crockett Elementary in the Blasz School District for 8 years...

    Josh has been teaching elementary Physical Education at Crockett Elementary in the Blasz School District for 8 years. He takes pride in advocating for his content area and is an active member of Arizona Health and Physical Education (AZHPE) Association, helping pursue the goal of 50 million strong students by 2029. In 2018 Josh was honored being named Arizona Educational Foundations Teacher of the Year and found great pride representing and spotlighting the success of the great teachers in Arizona.

    Josh is a former Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and is currently the vice president of the Balsz district teachers association. Josh graduated with a B.A. in Communications from Utah State University in 2004 and began a career in business, only to leave that world to follow his true passion for teaching after graduating with his masters in Physical Education from Arizona State University in 2011. 

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  • Sandy Merz

    Tucson Unified School District

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    Sandy grew up in Silver City, New Mexico and went to the University of New Mexico, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. After working for the U.S. Geological Survey in remote regions of western New Mexico, he moved to Tucson to attend graduate school at the University of Arizona, and earned a Master of Science degree in Hydrogeology. While working as an intern hydrologist for a local county agency, Sandy started doing volunteer work that involved making presentations in schools. At that moment he knew teaching was the path to follow. It must have been a good decision because he's still on the path after 31 years. Sandy has teaching certificates in math and science and is a National Board Certified Teacher in Career and Technical Education. He's taught engineering, science, and math classes at the same school in downtown Tucson his whole career. He also sponsored my school's MESA program, which prepares members to enter college and major in a STEM career, for twenty-one years. In addition to full time teaching, Sandy is actively involved in the teacher leadership movement by facilitating National Board Candidates, blogging for Stories from School Arizona, and serving on the Arizona K12 Center's TeacherSolutions team since its inception. In January 2017, Raytheon Missile System named Sandy as Leader in Education and during the 2017-2018 school year he was an Arizona Hope Street Fellow.

     
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  • Kareem Neal

    Phoenix Union High School District

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    Kareem has taught self-contained special education for 22 years. The past 11 years, he has taught at Maryvale High School. He has a Masters degree in Special Education from New Jersey University. Kareem's passion is in social justice issues. He is a member of the Phoenix Union High School District's (PUHSD) Political Engagement team and the PUHSD Council of Representatives for the teacher union. He is Vice President of the PUHSD Black Alliance. He is the PUHSD PLC lead for self-contained special education. And, he is the director of his school's UNITOWN diversity club. He is the 2018 AEA Diversity Grant recipient. This is Kareem's 2nd year on the Arizona K12 Center's TeacherSolutions Team.

     

     

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  • Christie Olsen

    Lake Havasu Unified School District

    Christie has taught in the Lake Havasu...

    Christie has taught in the Lake Havasu Unified School District for 26 years. She has taught grades 4-6 and has served as a teacher on assignment in charge of professional development in her district. She is currently a K-6 Academic/Instructional Coach and serves beginning teachers and their mentors in five elementary schools as an Arizona Master Teacher. Christie is a Middle Childhood Generalist National Board Certified Teacher. She supports National Board Candidates in her district. Christie holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wyoming, a Master's degree in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University, and a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix. Christie is a member of the Learning Forward Academy of 2019 and is studying a problem of practice related to a continuum of accomplished teaching. Christie has served on the Arizona K12 Center's TeacherSolutions team since its inception.

     

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  • Jennifer Robinson

    Maricopa Unified School District

    Jen has served in many educational...

    Jen has served in many educational positions in both Arizona and New York. She has been a classroom teacher of pre-school and kindergarten, an elementary special education teacher, and an instructional coach. She is beginning her seventh year as an elementary school principal in Maricopa Unified School District. She has been instrumental in developing the Leader in Me program at her school, in which scholars learn the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Every scholar has the opportunity to become a leader. She is Nationally Board Certified as an Early Childhood Generalist. Supporting teacher leaders through the National Board certification process helps ground her in what is most important, teaching and learning. Jen holds a Master's Degree in Exceptional Needs/Special Education from Buffalo State in New York and an Educational Doctorate in Teacher Leadership and Innovation from Arizona State University. Jen is actively involved in teacher leadership by blogging for Stories from School Arizona and serving on the Arizona K12 Center's TeacherSolutions team since its inception. 

     
     
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  • Yolanda Wheelington

    Phoenix Elementary School District

    Yolanda has taught for the past 8 years in the Phoenix Elementary School District. Her passion for developing...

    Yolanda has taught for the past 8 years in the Phoenix Elementary School District. Her passion for developing and supporting the human potential is evident in the cross-curricular work done in her classroom. She is a member of the Association Montessori International and is a RODEL Scholar. Yolanda earned a Bachelor's in Psychology from The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.), a Master's in Social Work and a Master's in Education (Special Education) from Arizona State University, and a diploma in Lower Elementary Education for ages 6-12 from the Montessori Insitute of North Texas. 

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  • Sara Wyffels

    Chandler Unified School District

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    This is Sara's 10th year as a Spanish teacher at Chandler High School and 12th year overall. Human connections are what drives Sara in her day to day professional life. She is currently teaching IB and AP Spanish and serves as the World Language Department Chair and as the Outreach Manager for the IB program. During the process of earning her National Board Certification, Sara enjoyed co-teaching the district prop 301 classes for World Languages with her colleague, which she found fulfilling and challenging. Sara is inspired to try new things every year, like leading the new teacher orientation meeting at her site. Sara enjoyed the growth experience of being a part of the Arizona K12 Center's TeacherSolutions Team last year, and she is ready to attack the next year. Teacher leadership has become a passion for Sara. Whether it is in the classroom or among her colleagues, she has put connections, collaboration and communication at the forefront of her pursuits.

     

     

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