2015 Legendary Teacher Submissions

This page is dedicated to teachers who have made a difference!

Legendary Teacher: Joseph DeFazio

10407198_10203319129332088_6936188786229933171_nIt’s not just his beard and mane-like hair that make him legendary. DeFazio is not only an amazing teacher of history and psychology, he is an amazing mentor. What he taught me about life and myself will stick with me longer than anything content wise will. (If you’re reading this DeFazio, I’m sorry, but it’s true!) He put more time into his students than any other teacher I know of. At the end of each year, he holds a recognition night for his APUSH students. He presents each of the attendees with a hand-written, thoughtful, and hilarious letter. Also, when I graduated in 2014, he took the time to meet with each of his seniors to talk about our plans after high school. These are the things that make DeFazio legendary. I am and will be forever thankful for the two years that I was his student, and I ‘m glad I get to continue to learn more from him as the years go by.

~Devon Beck

Legendary Teacher: Anong Charles

Mrs. Charles is so nice, and so calm. She helps our 4th grade class learn a lot every day. There are 30 kids in our class and she is able to help all of us, even when things get busy sometimes. She also lets us try out new ideas and she listens to us when we have questions or problems. Thank you, Mrs. Charles, for your kindness and for all of your hard work!!!

~Sophia St. John

Legendary Teacher: Rose Clampett

Mrs. Clampett was my Freshman English teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, Ca. Mrs. Clampett understood that this shy, awkward girl just wanted to read anything she could get her hands on and to learn to write poems, essays, and short stories. This wonderful teacher introduced me to my love for “the classics” which I have passed on to my own children. Mrs. Clampett was a pioneer by providing enrichment opportunities 30+ years before the concept became popular. Through her hard work, I was able to begin college as a Sophomore, with 20 English credits to my name. Currently, I just finished my first children’s book, which is dedicated in her memory.

~Averell Garcia

Legendary Teacher: Dr. Jeffrey Bennett

jeff_bennettAll teachers in our noble profession are Legendary. I do want to highlight one whom continues to inspire me, taught with more passion than one can imagine, and because of his work of heart, we will see his positive impact for generations. I am grateful for the late Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, a legend in education.

~Darlene Robinson


Legendary Teacher: Michelle Verdugo

Mrs. Verdugo helped my son Jaden Gastelum grow so much. She has a heart of gold. She taught him the importance of taking his time to complete his homework and to always do his best. He has a new found pride in his studies. We cannot thank you enough for all you did for our little Jaden Bug. Thank you!

~Daniel & Lorena Gastelum

Legendary Teacher: Sarah Haines

Mrs. Haines was my fourth grade teacher. As a younger student, I entered kindergarten with very limited English and struggled, especially with reading. I don’t know that fourth grade was any easier. I had to write in journals and Mrs. Haines had very high expectations for behavior. As a matter of fact, I sat on the “yellow steps” a lot during recess because my name was on the board with check marks next to it often. I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Some things never change. Still, she made me feel that it was okay to be me. That even when I made mistakes, I was still worth the space I occupied. She tolerated me staying after school to help her (probably not as willingly as she pretended). I enjoyed that extra time after school because my parents worked, so often, I would have gone home to be alone. Fourth grade was a turn around year for me. Although I struggled throughout my educational career, Mrs. Haines was the first to show me patience through my loudness and hyper-curiosity. I kept in touch with her through my early thirties, and even then, she still made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. If I could see her now, I would like for her to know how much she changed the way I felt about school, and about myself.

~Maricruz Zepeda-Wilson

Legendary Teacher: Benjamin Lebovitz

image5Mr. Lebovitz has been a huge impact on my life, especially in my musical side. Singing in the choir directed by him has been amazing. He helps us reach our goals and gives us so many opportunities. He is a hard working teacher in everything he does, and no matter what’s going on around him he still manages to put a smile on his face and is always happy. Mr. Lebovitz has impowered me to take every opportunity in my singing and he has taught me to be a better person. He gets close to students and helps in every single way he can. I’m glad that he is able to teach me and empower my singing. Especially since he does so many things at school like choir, musical theater, drama, clubs, out of school activities, school events and meetings almost every day at lunch, and yet he still manages to focus on all things without taking away from other things. Therefore he is one of the most phenomenal teachers I’ve ever had.

~Nicole Pitts

Legendary Teacher: Ann Bertelsen

My mom is the legendary teacher in my life. She gave up her classroom full of second grade students to stay home and teach my sister, brother, and me. Her love of literature and creativity greatly impacted my desire to grow academically as well as consider the influence I have on the people around me. Thanks for being a great role model mom, I love you!

~Emily Bertelsen

Legendary Teacher: Mary Jo Boyter

Mary Jo is a legendary teacher! I have had the honor attending professional development facilitated by her and I have also worked with her to develop workshops for teachers. Her professionalism and knowledge are beyond measure. I am a life-long learner and I am so lucky to have Mary Jo there to guide me in my ongoing education!

~Mary McGraw

Legendary Teacher: Chris Laughland

image4Chris Laughland may have been my English teacher, but he taught me so many important life lessons. I finally learned that it really is okay for me not to be perfect. As long as I learn from my mistakes and keep trying, it will all be okay. He taught me I have to take time out of my everyday life to focus on myself and what I need, but to still get out there and help others because you learn a lot from other’s perspective on things. I learned to respect everyone and work hard to earn the respect I want. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to fully capture what it was like to have him as a mentor, but I do know that I would not be the person I am today without him.

~Valerie Thueson

Legendary Teacher: Danielle Pack

In fifth grade she was the only teacher that made me feel comfortable at school. She helped me with anything that I needed. She sacrificed a lot for her students just to be there for us day to day. She was very patient with us and did her very best.

She truely is a legendary teacher.

~Emily Probst

Legendary Teacher: Wendy Fairbanks

She is the best teacher ever. She has a good sense of humor and is very nice!!!!!

~Liliana Sanchez

Legendary Teacher: Enrique Santa Cruz

Mr. SantaCruz is an wonderful teacher that has always been a great impact on all of us at Walden Grove High School. He works hard to keep us on the right path not only in class but in life. Along with my Dad he has guided me for the past 4 years in high school and has taught me how to be responsible and has helped me mature. He is also a family man and instills family and work ethic with all of his students at school.

~Christian Gracia

Mr. Santa Cruz gives me a positive perspective on my future career in engineering. He is a great model for me to follow and goes above and beyond to increase my chance at being successful in life. He deserves some recognition for all his hard work.

~Collin Lewis

He has given me a new outlook on life including my future career because I had once thought to join the police force later on, but instead his class helped me learn programming which I really understood and make me love to do it because its really fun. He is a really great model and had helped me figure out a new career in life in which I really like to do and would really help me in my future.

~Kin Chan

Legendary Teacher: Holly Johnson

Mrs.Johnson was my favorite teacher. She was very nice to us and showed kids who needed discipline well discipline. She read amazing books to us and helped us learn but became our friend and teacher. I LOVE YOU MRS. JOHNSON.

~Koryn Kaczynski

Mrs. Johnson has known in would be successful from the moment I walked into her classroom. She had helped me by setting up different groups to make me successful. Even if I didn’t believe in myself, she believed in me!

~Emilee D’Agostino

Legendary Teacher: Barbara Tingle

image3Mrs Tingle has made a lifelong memorable start to both of our children’s educational journey. She makes kindergarten so much fun. It was so amazing to see our daughter and our son have such an unforgettable kindergarten experience. Mrs Tingle has a kind loving heart with a deep passion for education. She makes a connection with each child, and genually cares for her ‘sprouts’
My kids will always hold a special place for Mrs Tingle in their hearts as they continue to grow and move on to other grades. We as parents will never forget what an exceptional teacher she is and the love she has for our kids.

~Jackie Eyrich

Legendary Teachers: SHS High School 1980’s & 90’s Faculty

I would like to thank all the teachers at SHS in the 80’s and 90’s for being excellent not only in their content area, but providing an example of how to be professional and enthusiastic about your profession. Go Mustangs!!!!!

~Scott Boyter

Legendary Teacher: Erin Osborn

Ms. Osborn taught me how to love math! I walked in her classroom not very confident in this area and walked out a pro! She taught me how to love it and I really am grateful to her for this. I am now in 4th grade and I feel like she really helped me thrive in this area.

~Mikaela Flory

Legendary Teacher: Stephanie Saenz

Mrs. Saenz was my first and best teacher. Her patience and dedication, and her unique way to teach made possible that I learned how to read, write, count and complete simple operations in kindergarten. I wish all teachers were like her. I struggled after I left her class in first grade. Most teachers don’t know how to motivate and teach the way she did it.

~Richard Torres

Legendary Teacher: Julie Tatum

mrs.-TatumMrs. Tatum is a fun, talkative teacher who tends to every need of her students. She can teach math, put on a band aid, solve a problem, and answer the phone ALL AT THE SAME TIME!! She was always there for me no matter what! She really loves each of her students like her own children. Mrs. Tatum is an amazing teacher and I will always remember her throughout life!

~Mikaela Flory

Mrs Tatum made an impactful memorable impression on our daughter’s third grade year at SIS. Milana absolutely adores Mrs. Tatum. She always inspired Her to try her best and she gave her confidence and a sence of excitement and wonder when it came to learning. Mrs Tatum cares deeply for her students, and she goes above and beyond, making a connection with each of them.My daughter knows she is cared for by Mrs Tatum. My daughter continues to strive for excellence and continues to always try her best. Mrs Tatum made school fun and she became a mentor and hero for my daughter.

~Jackie Eyrich

Legendary Teacher: Kathleen Lewis

Last year, my freshman year, I was really nervous and I was scared because I didn’t want to fail. But, I never really tried my hardest. Ms. Lewis always made me see the best in me and pushed me to do better. She gave me the confidence I never knew I had. She always believed in me. She’s the only teacher that has ever helped me that much. Whenever I lost hope, and I wanted to give up, there was Ms. Lewis to help pick myself up. I, personally think that Ms. Lewis is one of the best teachers out there.

~Ariel Belloc

Legendary Teacher: Christine Garcia

facebook_1442512475927-1This woman has been a huge part of my life. I first met her in 2006, as a freshman, scared about high school. She was my band and orchestra director, and she taught me the importance of having music in your life. She instilled excellence in me and wanted me to be the best me I could. She knew when to have fun, and she knew when to be serious. I might not have continued with music after my freshman year, had she not been there to show my how fun and rewarding it is. She is the first person that comes to mind when I think about my high school experience. All the fun time in high school revolves around the activities we did in band and orchestra. I am so happy to have met her, and I am glad I can now consider her a friend. Thank you Mrs. Garcia!

~Victoria Pomeroy

Legendary Teacher: Vanessa Velarde

IMG_1585-2She is nothing short of amazing. She has one of the largest classes in the district 30 kids! Even with 30 kids each gets individual attention to help them succeed at the rigorous 4th grade curriculum.
She even pays particular attention to kids individual needs and concerns. One example of this is when my daughter was not wearing her glasses because she was embarrassed. Mrs. Velarde talked to her about this and made a game of it with my daughter to help encourage her to wear her glasses. Needles to say now my daughter wears her glasses and can see the board.

I am constantly amazed at how she is able to cover such complex concepts and make them easy to understand. Division is one of those concepts that is hard for kids. I am floored that my daughter who for the past 4 years has done horrible in math is not able to grasp it and has the skills she needs to succeed. I have seen this first hand as well when I volunteer in her class room. She is organized, enthusiastic, fun, and knows her kids. I am so grateful for all she does for all the kids!

~Dalia Zimmerman

Passionate about teaching, friendly and she always want for us to try our best!

~Alan Baker

Legendary Teacher: Kim Atwell

image2Mrs. Atwell is the best teacher ever. Besides teaching me the things I need to know for school she also taught me to be a good friend. She gave me the confidence to be my best.

~Abigail Pannell


Legendary Teacher: Tammy Brinson

Mrs. Brinson was my 5th grade teacher. She has always been my legendary teacher! My 5th grade year was a tough one on the home-front. Despite my personal challenges Mrs. Brinson didnt give up on me, in fact she did just opposite. She pushed me and encouraged me to succeed. At times I fought her over it and wasn’t the most cooperative either. She never gave up on me and I will never forget it.

~Veronica Rosson-McGee

Legendary Teacher: David DeGroot

image1-2Mr. DeGroot is the best teacher ever. I had a very hard year but he always encouraged me to be my best. I feel like I learned more from him than any other teacher. He made me feel like I was really important.

~ Levi Pannell

Mr. DeGroot is by far the best teacher we have ever had. He encouraged and inspired us everyday. Not only did he teach in the classroom but he found time to take his students on hiking trips. One of our best memories is going to Madera Canyon with Mr. DeGroot. Our only regret is we can’t have him for every school year to come. Thanks for everything!

~Sarah and Danny Randall

David DeGroot is such an inspirational teacher. My kiddo has special needs and Mr DeGroot treated him as he would any other student. This one act alone helped him be successful last year as well as continuing to be successful this year. Often, my kiddo would come home with ‘out of the box’ lessons he had learned from Mr DeGroot. Kudos to Mr DeGroot for all his amazing efforts!

~Pamela Chambers

Mr. DeGroot was Aziah Garcia’s 5th grade teacher. We came from Alb. NM in the middle of the year. For a child to come into a new school from another state it is a huge change and terifying. Aziah went into Mr. DeGroot’s class and he welcomed her in and introduced her to the class. She came home the first day with so much excitment. Mr. DeGroot gets involved with the kids and encourages them to get involved. Mr. DeGroot takes the kids on an exciting field trip to the mountain to pan for gold. He has allowed family to be involved in this. By the outcome of this trip from former students and their families. Mr. DeGroot has not only welcomed my grandaughter to this town but me and all three of my grandkids. A huge Legendary Teacher who deserves to be recongnized.

~Aziah Garcia

Mr. DeGroot always pushed me to success. He always understood my ways of learning and always made it easy for me for me to be a successful student.

~German Navarro

Legendary Teacher: Carl Nelson

IMG_8484Nelson is a great man and a great role model for others. He expresses his inner child and foolishness but still is very strong. He has a very bid heart which holds much love and cares about everyone that becomes his student or on his team for sports. He makes everyone laugh and smile when he enters a room. He may have some bad days but that won’t get him down. Nelson would push me to do greater things in life such as Basketball and my schoolwork. He would always be positive which inspired me to be positive very single day because you can’t waste a day of being sad. Id rather have a day filled with joy, happiness and kindness. Nelson taught me these things and everyday I pray that his day goes well and that his life is great. He is an amazing teacher and i am so glad that he got to be a part of my school years.

~Kieri Palacios

My daughter attends Mr. Nelson’s first period. She comes home excited about learning about our countries history in his class. He puts so much of himself into his class’s. He makes is fun to know these important factors. She asked to be quizzed, so she can participate in the class. Thank You for all your knowledge and having the passion that makes 7th grade fun.

~Tracy Rosario

Mr. Nelson made learning fun. We did projects, notes, and learned a little about his personal life. He had humor in every lesson which made it so much fun to learn in his class.

~Kendall Karalun

Legendary Teacher: Johnnie Noble

FullSizeRender-3Ms. Noble, Chicago Public Schools, was the first truly demanding teacher that I had in high school; she was one who accepted no short-cuts in her Honors English. I could say she taught me how to write a research paper, how to do a book report, how to study for an exam, and countless other things – but that misses the point. She taught me above else how to find respect for myself in my work, a lesson which fueled me on to complete masters studies and further on into my own career as a teacher, now spanning 31 years.

~Thomas Herrera

Legendary Teacher: Joe Prince

Mr. Prince has always inspired me to follow my dreams of becoming a writer.

~Michelle Meister

Legendary Teacher: Ms. Class

Thank you Ms. Class– for instilling in a young mind the thoughts of acceptance, possibility and resilience.

~ Susana Alday

Legendary Teacher: Hector Estrada

image-3From soccer to the classroom, Estrada taught me dedication and hard work. His introduction of Academic Decathlon to Walden Grove has and will affect students for years to come. He is consistently involved in every facet of the school and makes a positive difference in anything he comes in contact with. Truly a legend!

~Chris Swartzentruber

Mr. Estrada has been more than a teacher to me he is truly a role modal. He has pushed me to do better at every aspect in life, especially playing soccer. He was the best coach I can ever ask for.

~Rudy Del Castillo

Mr. Estrada was my teacher/coach all the way from my Freshman year to Senior year at Walden Grove. He has shaped me into the man I am today and I look up to him and think of him as a second father. Truly a great man.

~Austin Elenez

Héctor Estrada is the best teacher I have ever had. He made his classes fun and easy to learn. One could tell he really enjoyed his job and made English class fun. English being my second language he helped me a lot to improve it.

~Pablo Santos

Not only has this teacher provided extensive learning in English and Academic Decathlon topics, he has gone beyond the classroom to introduce practical ways in which I could be successful throughout college and everyday adult life.

~Katrina Chesney

Legendary Teacher: Mary Collins

Ms. Collins was my Spanish teacher for Spanish 1 and 2. After my completion of those classes she stayed as my friend and a genuinely good person to talk to about my problems. She excels in teaching and also being there for her students. I’m lucky to say I had her as a teacher.

~Nina Adkins

Legendary Teacher: Suzie Heintz

Mrs. Heintz,

This letter of appreciation is way overdue! Thank you for playing such an important role in my professional life. Through your mentoring and training, I’ve been able to apply multiple skills and strategies that support my role as a leader in education. Your teachings helped me develop a strong foundation of systems that are being employed today and serving as a driving force of my vision for teacher renewal and growth. Your legacy is alive and continues to help others become better at their teaching craft.

Almost two decades ago you gave me a magnet that states, “Teaching is the profession that creates all others.” I received this magnet my first days as a new teacher during New Teacher Induction. The magnet is still proudly displayed on my refrigerator door. It brings back good memories, reinforces the purpose in my life’s work, and provides much gratitude for the mentors who made a significant impact in my life. Thank you! I wish you and your family peace, joy, and good health!


Brett K. Bonner
Assistant Superintendent
Sahuarita Unified School District #30

Legendary Teacher: Lorena Ramsey

Snip20150914_9Mrs. Lorena Ramsey was my sixth grade teacher at Iola Frans Elementary School in Flowing Wells School District, and she made a pivotal impact on my life. Mrs. Ramsey expected every student’s best effort, and would not accept anything less. She defined the standard for setting a high bar, but the bar was always accompanied by tireless instruction, encouragement, and support. Mrs. Ramsey challenged me to work for higher goals than I thought were possible. I remember that she encouraged me to run for, and be elected as, student body president, even though I thought the other candidate was unbeatable. I remember learning math skills that were probably beyond the standard in sixth grade. That school year, 1977-78, was pivotal in helping me to believe that I could accomplish success if I set goals and worked with commitment, sacrifice, and resolve. Mrs. Ramsey was also a model of moral character and citizenship. She encouraged me, and all students, to compete and strive for excellence, always within the rules, whether in the classroom, student activities, or on the field of athletic competition. I remember that she was most proud of my achieving the school Citizenship Award at the end of the year. Mrs. Ramsey inspired me to be the best that I could be. She was truly a Legendary Teacher.

~Manuel O. Valenzuela, Ed.D.
Sahuarita Unified School District #30