Taryn Tidwell named Teacher of the Year finalist

Photo of Shepherd Junior High teacher Taryn Tidwell

(Submitted by Elliott Adams/Mesa Public Schools)

Taryn Tidwell, choir and drama teacher at Shepherd Junior High School, has been named one of five finalists for 2020 Arizona Teacher of the Year. Each year, the Arizona Educational Foundation highlights outstanding public school teachers in Arizona, one of which is named Teacher of the Year and represents the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Tidwell has taught at Mesa Public Schools for six years. She's also a proud alumna who graduated from Dobson High School and says she knew she always wanted to work for the district. After spending time as a traveling choir teacher, she is now the full-time choir, drama and musical theatre director at Shepherd Junior High School. According to Principal Jill Benza, she is an integral part of the Shepherd community and an outstanding candidate for the award.

"Mrs. Tidwell exemplifies what we want in a teacher," Benza says. "She is dedicated to the craft, shares her love of performance and musical theater, and accepts, educates and loves every student who walks in the door. Students know Mrs. Tidwell's class is a great place to be."

Tidwell focuses on student engagement, ensuring her class is active in the learning process.

"I firmly believe that active engagement in our students' learning comes from having a personal connection with what they are doing," Tidwell says. "When we are able to relate and connect our material directly to our students, learning comes to life and they are inspired to work harder, and become leaders and role models."

Along with providing students with the opportunity to help mold lessons and activities, Tidwell highlights the importance of being more than an instructor in the classroom.

"As an educator and cancer survivor, my philosophy of teaching is all about the students feeling loved and having memorable experiences and opportunities to achieve success," Tidwell says. "I want to provide students with every possible opportunity to cultivate long-lasting, meaningful friendships and memories that will aid them through school and life."

The 2020 AEF Teacher of the Year will be announced in October. The winner receives prizes including $15,000, a classroom makeover and travel opportunities. The remaining finalists are honored as Ambassadors for Excellence. Lauren Cluff, Hughes Elementary reading interventionist, will also be honored at the luncheon as a semifinalist.

"I am proud to be #oneteam and honored to be able to continue to advocate for education," Tidwell says.

Information courtesy of Arizona Educational Foundation.

(Photo by Tim Hacker/Mesa Public Schools)


« Back to News