Originally Published: May 10, 2009 11 p.m.
Brandy Cox is the 2009 Yavapai County Teacher of the Year.
A kindergarten teacher at Del Rio Elementary School in Chino Valley, Cox received the honor during the 15th annual Teacher of the Year Awards Ceremony and Banquet Friday night at the Prescott Resort.
Cox was among more than 50 teachers recognized this year by the Yavapai County Education Foundation for their excellence in the classroom.
State Rep. Andy Tobin, R-Dist. 1, was among the teachers, administrators, school board members and community members on hand to salute all of the nominees.
"It is neat to see these people; they are the ones you want to see. When you have five children, all who attended public school, this is great," Tobin said after the event.
The Teacher of the Year banquet honored outstanding teachers in the following categories:
PreK-3 Grade: Winner Brandy Cox is the most enthusiastic teacher on campus, according to the entire kindergarten team at Del Rio Elementary.
Finalists included Laurie Schreffler, a first-grade teacher from Humboldt Elementary in Humboldt Unified School District; and Stephanie Johnson, a first-grade teacher at Tavasci Elementary in Cottonwood Oak Creek District.
Grades 4-8: Winner Patricia Pfeiffer, a fifth-grade teacher at West Sedona Elementary, is a veteran teacher of 42 years. However, her principal said, "She is fresh, exciting and innovative each and every day."
Finalists included Nancy Gottschalk, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Camp Verde Middle School; and Brenda Hubbard, a fourth-grade teacher at Del Rio Elementary School at CVUSD.
Cross-Grade Specialist: Winner Kristi Spengler is a K-2 special education teacher at Taylor Hicks Elementary in Prescott Unified School District. She integrates her students into the mainstream of student life at school - in the lunchroom, working with fourth-grade Bobcat Buddies who read and partner with her students.
Finalists included Pamela Clark, a K-3 Reading Interventionist at Mountain View Elementary in HUSD; and Benjamin Bradstreet, the band instructor at Prescott Mile High Middle School in PUSD.
High School: Winner Keri Marie DeHerrera is a Spanish teacher at Camp Verde High School. She immerses her students in the entire culture - food, entertainment, geography - and the language used to create it. When they finish her courses, her students say, "I speak Spanish," not "I took Spanish."
Finalists included Janet Anderson, a life skills teacher at Camp Verde High School; and Mark Goligoski a social studies teacher at Prescott High School.
Small Districts: Winner Beth Cartia is a sixth-grade teacher from Clarkdale-Jerome School. She said, "I hope I never lose the thrill of seeing a child's eyes light up when they finally understand a difficult concept."
Finalists include Cheryl Franklin, head teacher for Crown King Elementary; and Ellen Dehnert, a fifth-grade teacher from American Heritage Academy.
Outstanding First-Year Teacher: Winner Ellen Lagasse is a second-grade English Language Development teacher at Beaver Creek Elementary School District. Her superintendent describes her as "bright, spontaneous, pleasant, kind, funny, creative, organized, extremely hard working and infectiously draws all around her into her fresh and positive attitude."
Finalists included Crystal-Lynn McElmurry, a kindergarten English Language Development teacher from Territorial Elementary in CVUSD; and Nikki Hepworth, a first-grade teacher at Liberty Traditional School in HUSD. She believes that poetry is so important that she uses a Poetry Suitcase so the students would always carry poems around with them.
The Education Foundation gave each category finalist a $250 grant, each category winner a $500 grant, and to the Teacher of the Year, a $1,000 grant.
Yavapai County Education Foundation Teacher-of-the-Year Committee Chairman Maggie Cox said, "I truly believe that this banquet is important in inspiring teachers. Every teacher knows they could be nominated. There are not limits on the number of teachers a school or district can nominate."