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Teacher Leaders

TREC offers a two-year Teacher Leader program that provides classroom teachers with a leadership opportunity and a voice to make changes in their teaching practice and support others in their teaching practice. Currently, TREC is adding one cohort of teacher leaders from a variety of schools in the region. In their first year, the cohort identifies and learns about a key teacher need; in their second year, they work towards addressing this issue through PD opportunities. These teachers also assist in planning the TREC June Summit, with a different topic each year to address the region’s professional development needs.


We currently have two cohorts. Our first cohort chose to address emotional resilience in teachers and have decided to lead a book study about Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators by Elena Aguilar. This book and book study, will help facilitate the region’s teachers in thoughtful discussion to both empower teachers to practice new social emotional learning strategies in their classroom (i.e., asking students to pay attention to who is doing something right and sharing it out to improve classroom community) while also supporting each teacher’s emotional resiliency. Finally, through the book study the Teacher Leaders will focus on connecting teachers to one another. We look forward to seeing what our second cohort’s project focus will be.


Outcomes: Those who participate in the teacher-leader program are given an opportunity to grow as educators while staying in the classroom. Three teachers out of eight in our first cohort have increased their coaching role in their districts.


Cohort 1

Photo of Jamie Camero

Jamie Camero

Douglas Elementary, Flowing Wells (6th Grade Science)

Teacher for 16 years

“I was inspired to become a TREC Teacher Leader when I attended the retreats and saw how much passion there was around teacher retention and building leaders from within. I wanted to work with TREC so that I could gain the confidence to pursue leadership opportunities while remaining close to the classroom setting. Building a community with my Co-Teacher Leaders has been one of the most fulfilling years of my career.” 



Xochitl Hosmer

Sonoran Science Academy East (Kindergarten)


Edna Leyva

Baboquivari High School (English, AVID, Spanish)


Joni Lightcap

Tanque Verde High School (Math) 


Sarah NiegockiSarah Neigocki

Blenman Elementary School (Resource Teacher)








Justin Powell

Sunnyside Middle School (Math)


A photo of Lauren Smoot

Lauren Smoot

Tortolita Middle School, Marana (7th Grade English & Language Arts, Teaching and Technology Coach)

Teacher for 13 years

“I think that teacher learning and well-being is really vital to student success. When teachers feel valued, they are able to do their jobs better. I want to do anything I can to develop my own skills, but also cultivate growth in all teachers. The concept of a giant network of teachers learning and working together and supporting each other is really exciting. I’m so grateful to be part of TREC.”



Photo of Karyn Vick Frantziskonis

Karyn Vick-Frantziskonis, NBCT, M.Ed.

Amphitheater Public Schools (Curriculum & Instruction Support Specialist )

Teacher for 30 years

“I became a TREC Teacher Leader because I wanted to join with other teachers to help broaden Leadership and Professional Development opportunities for teachers across the Tucson area. It is a privilege to work alongside such outstanding educators in the development of this collaborative.”


Cohort 2

Melody Andrade

Palo Verde High Magnet (Dual Credit College Algebra, Regular College Algebra, and Geometry)

Teacher for 17 years

“With the challenge of the worldwide pandemic, education continuity, planning, and management are certainly the major issues today. How can the students continue learning while keeping themselves safe from COVID-19? How can a teacher sustain each student’s needs in a new normal? How can I uplift students, parents, and teachers to win this education battle? Being in the TREC Teacher Leader, I believe I could learn and collaborate various teaching strategies to address the said issues. It is a good opportunity to bring back to my school whatever learning I could get from this group throughout the school year. I’m hoping that with TREC Teacher Leader, I could promote and learn the best way to increase the practice of 4E: Equity, Encouragement, Ethics, and Empathy in the education system.”


Kristi Chiasson

Tucson Unified School District (K-5 Reading, Math)


A photo of Jacqueline Gale

Jacqueline Gale (Ibarra)

Desert View High School (Senior English & Creative Writing, English Department Lead and Executive Board Member of Wildcat Writers)

Teacher for 12 years

“I want to be a TREC teacher leader because I am passionate about building community, creating equitable opportunities for diverse populations, and better supporting both students and teachers who so desperately need it. Becoming a TREC teacher leader gives me the opportunity to collaborate with dedicated professionals I wouldn’t ordinarily be in touch with;  individuals who also want to see changes in education. Together, we are better equipped to make a difference.”



A photo of Deb Goepfrich

Deb Goepfrich

Agua Caliente Elementary (1st Grade)

Teacher for 14 years

“I see the need for teacher leaders to help other teachers grow in their practice.  I also think teacher leaders play a crucial role in building a support community to help teachers build resilience as they work in an undervalued and stressful occupation.”





A photo of Carmen Haber

Carmen Haber

CHIC Preschool, Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind (Listening and Spoken Language)

Teacher for 16 years

“I wanted to be a TREC Teacher Leader to be a support for other teachers, work on retention strategies and Professional Development opportunities for our community (teachers).”




Courtney Quihuis

Vail School District (4th Grade)


Danielle Swartz

Amphitheater Unified School District (1st Grade)


Emily Tate

Marana Unified School District (7-8th Grade Art)


Niki Tilicki

Amphitheater Unified School District (Math, 4th Grade)