Teachers from a local Catholic elementary and high school earned Teacher of the Year titles in respective categories through the Arizona Council for American Private Education during the second annual awards ceremony Oct. 22 at the Goldwater Institute. The organization also honored seven other teachers at five Catholic schools as finalists alongside two programs.
Tina Larsen, a third grade teacher at St. John Bosco in Ahwtaukee was named Teacher of the Year in the preschool to third grade category. She has been teaching for 11 years, seven of them at St. John Bosco, and is a certified catechist. All finalists showed a passion for education, compassion, resiliency, innovation, leadership and a desire to give back to the community.
Juby Luensmann, an agile algebra teacher at Notre Dame Preparatory in Scottsdale, was named high school Teacher of Year. Luensmann strives to find the mathematician in everyone and has done so for 16 years, eight of them at Notre Dame.
Other finalists representing Catholic schools included:
- P-3 Teacher of the Year: Mary Agnes at Christ the King in Mesa
- 4-8 Teacher of the Year: Pat Curry at Christ the King in Mesa, Kathleen Murphy at St. Thomas Aquinas in Avondale
- 9-12 Teacher of the Year: Marilyn Weleck at San Miguel High School in Tucson
- Staff Member of the Year: Dorthy Abril at St. John Bosco in Ahwatukee, Bonnie Brillas at Blessed Pope John XXIII in Scottsdale, Jessie Cuellar at St. Theresa in Arcadia, David Gonsalves at Notre Dame Prepratory
- Program of the Year: iPad program at Blessed Pope John XXIII in Scottsdale, Student Government Association at Notre Dame Preparatory in Scottsdale