Lori Markham, a first-grade teacher at Abia Judd Elementary School in Prescott, was named Teacher of the Year (TOY) during formal banquet ceremonies sponsored by the Yavapai County Education Foundation (YCEF).
In addition to being the overall winner, Markham was a category finalist and received awards of $500 and $1,500, respectively, in the K-2 category. She received another $5,000 as the top winner for a total of $7,000.
Markham was among 70 teachers from schools across Yavapai County honored in early May.
The monetary support — well over $20,000 — came from the local, county and state corporate and business community, as well as from individual donors.
A veteran 24-year classroom teacher, Markham said during the ceremony, “I am so honored and so humbled to be in this room with so many amazing educators. This award is not for me alone. I would not be here if not for all the people who guided, motivated and encouraged me.”
Markham also thanked “students and their parents who motivate, encourage and support me daily.”
Abia Judd Principal Stephanie Hillig nominated Markham for the award. Hillig praised her for being not only an active classroom teacher but also a major influence in developing the new elementary writing curriculum in the Prescott Unified School District.
A large banner proclaiming Markham as the 2019 Teacher of the Year will hang at Abia Judd during the coming year.
Other Teachers Receiving Recognition were:
- Outstanding first-year teacher — Sara Pareja, third grade at Del Rio Elementary School in Chino Valley.
- Third-fifth grade — Jocelyn Hawkins, third grade at Del Rio Elementary School in Chino Valley. Sixth-eighth grade — Katelyn Johnson, language arts teacher at Glassford Hill Middle School in Prescott Valley.
- K-eight specialist category — Jessica Kissinger, language arts teacher at Liberty Traditional School in Prescott Valley.
- High school category — Marc Metz, history teacher at Chino Valley High School.
Each category winner received a cash award from the Yavapai County Education Foundation. Category finalists also received smaller cash awards.
Craig Mai, the 2018 Teacher of the Year winner and a 21-year veteran teacher, lauded nominees, saying, “I praise you for your dedication and commitment, especially during these difficult and challenging budgetary times when schools deserve so much more funding than they receive. You continue to serve the most important people in society, the leaders of the future. I am so proud of you and proud to be one of you this week.”
Mai was a highly successful industrial engineer at AT&T before becoming an educator two decades ago. He now teaches math at Mingus Mountain High School in Cottonwood.
Yavapai County Superintendent of Schools Tim Carter emphasized that teachers deserve continuing recognition for their dedication to a profession that touches so many lives.
Longtime YCEF President Tim Weideraenders emphasized how important the annual TOY banquet is in celebrating teachers whose hard work and exemplary classroom performance warrants public support. Cash awards presented to category winners are used to create and sustain innovative educational projects in classrooms and schools.
Major financial sponsors for the Teacher of the Year program include individual, business and corporate donors. Contributions to the non-profit 501 (c) 3 foundation are tax deductible.
Those wanting to see photographs and names of winners and nominees may do so by going to the website at ycefoundation.com.