Leticia Ryan’s 27 students at Montessori Education Centre, a Mesa charter school, have 27 different reasons for liking their teacher. “She’s taught me algebra and long division — and I’m only in fourth grade,” Kelcie Seely said Thursday.
“She taught me how to dissect something,” fifth-grader Nick Copeland piped in.
Ryan is one of 22 East Valley teachers who have won recognition from a Teacher of the Year program sponsored by Wal-Mart and the Phi Beta Kappa International Association.
Each of Wal-Mart’s stores and distribution centers choose one local winner to get $1,000 for their school and a $100 gift card to buy supplies for their classroom, along with a certificate and polo shirt for themselves.
This news was sprung on Ryan, as it was for most of the other 77 teachers across Arizona who were given an award last week during National Teacher Appreciation Week. She was greeted Thursday morning with a screamed “Surprise!” from her students, many of whom bowed to her as they sat on the floor.
Ryan, who teaches students of different ages with Denise Henry, employs her creativity, fluency in multiple foreign languages and boundless enthusiasm for teaching — despite the profession’s limited economic benefits.
“Teaching has its own rewards,” she said, glancing at her fourththrough sixth-graders. “And look at those faces — my gosh!”
The East Valley teachers recognized last week include:
• Apache Junction — Sheila Kopena, Apache Junction High School
• Chandler — Beth Bautista-Hackett, Frye Elementary; Eduard Collins and Ron Eger, Kyrene de las Brisas Elementary; Mary Ann Rezzonico, Basha High; Lind Young, Knox Elementary
• Gilbert — Leeza Forward, Towne Meadows Elementary; Trevie Robertson, Higley High
• Mesa — Lindell Akers, Mac-Arthur Elementary; Anne Dunning, Kerr Elementary; Barbara Dumont, Highland Arts Elementary; Leonard Martin, Augusta Ranch Elementary; David Price, Boulder Canyon High; Eric Starks, Boulder Creek Elementary; Keri Schaulberger, Mesa High School
• Scottsdale — Mary Ann Holtzen, Copper Canyon Elementary: Jennifer Jensen, Desert Mountain High School; Kris Picard, Aztec Elementary
• Tempe — Stephen Batchelder, James Madison Preparatory; Dyann O’Brien, Kyrene del Norte Elementary.