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Teacher of the Year

The Teacher of the Year (TOY) program highlights the contributions of Catalina Foothills’ teachers and has the support of the CFSD Foundation. The program annually recognizes two exceptionally skilled and dedicated teachers from a group of 5 “Distinguished Educators”. Nominees are those who have gained the respect and admiration of students, parents and co-workers, and who inspire learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities. They play an active and useful role in their communities as well as in their schools, distinguishing themselves as leaders.

Congratulations to our 2016-2017 Teachers of the Year!

Kathleen Bowman – Manzanita Elementary, 5th Grade

“As we go on throughout the school year, everyday, I come home ten times happier than I was when I went to school. Everyday, I come home thinking Mrs. Bowman is ten times better of a teacher than that morning.” – Manzanita Student

Mrs. Bowman has been at Manzanita for 8 years, having taught in the 1st/2nd Multi-Age Classroom before moving to 5th grade this school year. She holds a BA from the University of Arizona and her Full Structured English Immersion Endorsement. Mrs. Bowman serves as a leader in her education community. She is on the Social Studies Common Assessment Writing Team, is a 5th Grade Data Team Member, has served on the School Improvement Plan Committee and as a Mentor Teacher for an NAU student teacher. Mrs. Bowman has been honored by the Rincon Rotary Club and as a CFSD Distinguished Educator.



Megan Kirts, CFHS, 12th Grade Social Studies

“Ms. Kirts is a phenomenal teacher. Her material is innovative, thought-provoking and up to date… She teaches using all the methods to engage her students currently promoted as best practice.” – CFHS Parent

Ms. Kirts teaches AP U.S. History and AP Macroeconomics at CFHS, where she also serves as the Department Chair. This is her 15th year of teaching and her 5th in Catalina Foothills. She earned BA and MA from the University of Arizona, graduating summa cum laude with each degree. Ms. Kirts is a leader in the field of education. She serves as a guest instructor for the Thomas R. Brown Foundation, teaching professional development workshops and is a curriculum mentor at CFHS. She has been honored as a Transatlantic Outreach Program Fellow, a James Madison Memorial Fellow and with the Ed Eisele Award for Excellence in Economics Education. 


Congratulations to our Distinguished Educators!

Timothy Malan, Orange Grove Middle School, Science

“Mr. Malan is a very fun and interesting man with a passion for teaching science that he is more than willing use and demonstrate every day of the week in order to enhance his pupil’s minds.” – OGMS Student

Mr. Malan is in his 7th year of teaching Science at OGMS. He has a BS, magna cum laude, in Molecular and Cellular Biology and an MA, summa cum laude, in Education, both from the University of Arizona. Mr. Malan serves as the Science Department Head and as a Data Team Leader at OGMS. He is currently working on his National Board Certification.






Kirstin Panikkar, Sunrise Drive Elementary, Special Education

“She is caring, compassionate, and truly understands the unique needs of her students.  She is an advocate for children with special needs, insuring that they receive all the necessary supports to be successful in their classroom settings.” – Sunrise Parent 

Mrs. Panikkar has 19 years of classroom experience, ten of which have been in her current position at Sunrise. A graduate of Iowa State, she holds a B.S. in Child Development. She earned her M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of North Carolina. Mrs. Panikkar serves in several leadership positions, including as a student teacher mentor and as an IEP mentor to other district SPED teachers.





Laura Pennington, Sunrise Drive Elementary, 2nd Grade

“She has a commitment to excellence. She has taught at Sunrise for 31 years. She comes in early and she often stays until 5:30 pm. Her attitude is exceptional. She loves the kids. She makes it fun.  She is enthusiastic.” – Sunrise Parent 

Mrs. Pennington is a National Board Certified Teacher who has taught at Sunrise for almost 30 years, in both Kindergarten and 2nd Grade. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a double major in Elementary Education and Psychology, holds an MA in Educational-Counseling and participated in the PHD degree program in Teacher Education at the University of Arizona. She has served in countless leadership positions, both at Sunrise and at the district level.







The 2015-2016 school year winners were:

Charlotte Ackerman
Canyon View, Manzanita, Sunrise and Ventana Vista
Jennifer Dooley
Valley View Early Learning Center
 Photos courtesy of Sophia Lyn Sims


The 2014-2015 school year winners were:

Julia Hollis
Esperero Canyon Middle School
Cory Walavich
Esperero Canyon Middle School
Julia_forwebsite Cory_forwebsite
 Photos courtesy of Sophia Lyn Sims


The 2013-2014 school year winners were:

Brian Bindschadler
Orange Grove Middle School
6th-8th Grade English
Alyssa Keri
Catalina Foothills High School
Honors Precalculus & AP Calculus

The 2012-2013 school year winners were:

Colin Flynn
Orange Grove Middle School
8th Grade Social Studies
Dr. Ed Moody
Catalina Foothills High School
Government & History

The 2011-2012 school year winners were:

Kris Green
Manzanita Elementary
Multi-Age Teacher
Lindy Bowden
Canyon View Elementary

The 2010-2011 school year winners were:

Elizabeth Pagels
Manzanita Elementary
Fifth Grade Teacher
Pat Burrows
Esperero Canyon Middle School
Eighth Grade Teacher

The 2009-2010 school year winners were:

Susie Speelman
Sunrise Drive Elementary
Inclusion Teacher
Joe Day
Catalina Foothills High School
American Literature Teacher

The 2008-2009 school year winners were:

Caryl Jones Renee Shane-Boyd

The 2007-2008 school year winner was:

Dave Mason