Willcox High School Educator Named Arizona Teacher of the Year

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WILLCOX, AZ – A teacher from rural Arizona takes home the Arizona Educational Foundation’s largest award.

Over the weekend, Willcox High School chemistry teacher Ty White was named State Teacher of the Year.

“I don’t even know who nominated me at this point, I don’t know how I got here but that’s amazing,” White said with a chuckle.

As humble as he is, his work speaks for itself. What he does in the classroom is only a small fraction of his impact.

“I’ve got kids doing the Chief Science Officer Leadership Program, I’ve got kids doing Science Fair, I’ve got kids running around the sun, building solar-powered go-karts,” White said. “Almost every school really strives to create programs that reflect their school’s culture.”

Mr. White recognizes the responsibility that has been placed on him as rural school systems like his are generally under-resourced. His hard work really pays off.

White leads the Science Club, GATE Club, and Knowledge Bowl, and is also a founding board member of InSimEd, a non-profit organization that creates “Industry Simulation” challenges and is affiliated with Aerospace Education Corporation (AEC).

As a non-profit organization, they also support underserved and underrepresented students to enter and travel to competitions.

“For example, this year we’re going to rent the biosphere, my goal is to work with SciTech, we’re going to fill every casita with high schoolers, and they’re going to work with real aerospace engineers to plan space habitats,” White explained.

Projects and opportunities pave the way for his students to succeed and build confidence, so there is no limit to what they can achieve.

“It helps show them and the world that we’re doing great things out here,” White said.

“He’s my absolute favorite teacher, there’s no one better for this award,” said Dakota Finley, a former student. She also says that Mr. White’s devotion to his student knows no bounds.

“When I started at school, there really weren’t any clubs or anything like that. He started them all for the most part,” Finley said. “He spends so much time with his students and I’m not sure how he has a family outside of school because I think you’re always here, you always have a student visiting and working on a project and his wife is absolutely amazing to support him.”

Becoming a teacher was never really one of Mr. White’s childhood dreams, but now, 16 years later, he’s one of the best in the nation.

“And the truth is, there are a million other teachers out there like me,” White said.

Arizona Teacher of the Year, Mr. White will now represent the state for the national award later this year.

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