Return to Headlines

Congratulations to Dr. Pelotte!

The Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF) announced the top 10 teachers vying for Arizona Teacher of the Year, and Phoenix Union had two teachers-Maryvale’s Gerald Kareem Neal and Metro Tech’s Dr. Lettice Pelotte. No other school district had multiple selections.

Today, that list was pared to five Ambassadors for Excellence and five Semifinalists. Neal is one of the five ambassadors, and Pelotte is a semifinalist.

One of the five Ambassadors will receive the title of 2019 AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year at the annual awards luncheon on Thursday, October 25 at the Arizona Biltmore and be in the running for the National Teacher of the Year title. All ten teachers will be honored during the awards luncheon. More than 500 attendees are expected, including Arizona educators, elected officials and business leaders.

Among other prizes and opportunities, the Teacher of the Year receives a $15,000 cash prize, the four Ambassadors, $5,000 and semi-finalists receive $1,000.

Neal teaches Community Skills as an Exceptional Student Services teacher at Maryvale. He has taught for 20 years, including 11 at Maryvale. Neal sponsors the Community Skills Club and Panthertown. He has coached girls basketball, is the football game announcer, and works volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball and softball games. He has a B.S. in Science, and Master’s in Special Education.

“There is nothing I love more than teaching (particularly at Maryvale),” Neal said.

Pelotte has been with PUHSD since 2008 and is in her fourth year at Metro Tech, teaching AP Literature and Composition, and English 7-8. She has a B.A. from Roosevelt University in Chicago, Master’s from Loyola, and earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from ASU.

“What I love most about teaching literature and writing is the power the written word has to make us see our own lives from different perspectives and empower us to transform the world around us,” Pelotte says on her website.

Teachers may self-nominate, be nominated by a student, co-worker, administrator, school or district committee, friend or family member to apply for the award. To be considered for the award, teacher candidates must submit a written application that is reviewed by a panel of judges consisting of educators, students and members of the business community. Ten finalists are selected from the written applications.

The ten finalists must prepare a 15-minute unedited video teaching in the classroom. The final selection process includes review of the video, an interview and an impromptu speech to a panel of judges.

The Teacher of the Year and Ambassadors have multiple opportunities during the year to make public appearances throughout the state, speaking to professional, civic, educational, parent and student groups.

AEF's annual Teacher of the Year program is the only statewide program to spotlight and honor Arizona's public school teachers.

Individual tickets and table sponsorship to the awards luncheon can be purchased at