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Borton Magnet teacher Becky Cavazos named one of five finalists for Arizona Teacher of the Year

Borton Magnet School teacher Becky Cavazos discovered that being yourself makes a difference. The Tucson Unified School District 4th Grade teacher learned Tuesday that she has been named as one of five finalists for Arizona Teacher of the Year by the Arizona Educational Foundation.

Cavazos was in Phoenix this week to appear in front of a panel of judges who asked questions of the seasoned teacher and asked her to give an impromptu five-minute speech on the Common Core standards that are being implemented in school districts throughout the state. She had three minutes to prepare the speech.

"If I'm not myself then it won't work, it's just not me," Cavazos says of her presentation to the panel. "I answered from my heart."

The judges were pleased with what they saw, moving Cavazos from a group of 10 semi-finalists into the group of five finalists.

The Teacher of the Year program
annually recognizes "exceptionally skilled and dedicated pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public school teachers... who have gained the respect and admiration of students, parents, and co-workers. They play an active and useful role in their communities as well as their schools, often distinguishing themselves as leaders. They have a superior ability to help all students achieve," according to the foundation.

For the application, Cavazos, who has been with TUSD since 1986, had to submit a DVD of her teaching a class as well as long-form responses of her community involvement, philosophy of teaching, issues and trends in education, as well as her overall thoughts on the teaching profession.

"We as educators do have the power to change schools," she says. "It only takes a few passionate personnel who have a shared vision on what an ideal community of learners is to create an optimal learning environment."

The Arizona Teacher of the Year will be announced at a luncheon event in Scottsdale on Nov. 14.

Photo of Becky Cavazos
"We as educators do have the power to change schools," says Becky Cavazos.