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Teacher Leaders

TREC’s Teacher Leader program provides classroom teachers with an opportunity to build key leadership competencies (professionalism, communication, advocacy for teaching and learning, and professional learning) through leadership opportunities and a reflective space to make changes in their teaching practice and support other educators.

Learn more about the TREC Teacher Leader Competencies.

The TREC Teacher Leader Program is a two-year commitment, with cohorts focused on identifying and addressing key professional learning needs for teachers in the Tucson region.

Year 1:

During year one of the program, teachers first work to build community within the cohort, develop communication skills, and explore different professional learning topics.

Year 2:

By year two, the cohort will have identified professional learning needs specific to Tucson teachers and works to meet those needs through a lens of professionalism and advocacy.

At the end of this two-year commitment, Teacher Leaders organize our culminating event, an opportunity to showcase their development as a teacher leader and share what they have learned with other educators.  This can serve as a springboard for future opportunities across their respective schools and districts.

Click here to access the General Schedule for the TREC Teacher Leader Program.


Founding Teacher Leaders:

When the TREC Teacher Leader program began, our first cohort chose to address emotional resilience in teachers and led a book study about Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators by Elena Aguilar. This book and book study, facilitated 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.  Today, many schools and districts along with TREC continue to use this book to build educator resiliency and community!

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.

You can read more about this dynamic group of Teacher Leaders and all TREC Cohorts below.

Stay up-to-date with this program and other information by joining our newsletter:

Cohort 5 applications are now open.  Apply at

Cohort 4: 2022-2023 (Year 2)

Jennifer Lichtsinn

Northland Pioneer College

“I've been teaching for 36 years in early childhood. I have experience with early childhood special education, kindergarten, Sheltered English Immersion and third grade. In 2019, I received a PhD in teaching and teacher education from the University of Arizona. I'm looking forward to working with the other TREC leaders. ”

Anamika Sood

Mansfield Middle School
Tucson Unified School District

“I belong to India. I had taught there for more than 17 years and here in USA, this is my 5th year as a teacher. I had worked as an Academic Supervisor for about 10 years in my country. I am very excited to join TREC as I believe it would help me enhancing my leadership and communication skills and will promote my educational and professional growth while staying in the classroom.”

Cerelo V. Flores

Indian Oasis Elementary School-Intermediate Campus
Baboquivari Unified School District #40

“A lot are called and only a few were chosen. As one of the missionaries in Teaching Minds, Touching Hearts, and Transforming Lives of the future generation of the Tohono O'odham Nation I am inspired and motivated to always radiate my passion for teaching to achieve excellence. It is such an honor to be given the opportunity to join the amazing TREC Cohort 4 Family and work with my co- Teacher-Leaders who has great dreams for the school clientele and its community. ”

Rene Acereto

Wakefield Middle School
Tucson Unified School District

“Born & raised in Southside Tucson. Product of the University of Arizona. I'm familiar with working through struggle & succeeding beyond expectations. As a teacher I have the pleasure of experiencing both with our learners. learners."”

Jillian Powers

Walter Douglas
Flowing Wells Unified School District

Shay Humphreys

Donaldson Elementary
Amphitheater Public School

Kate Kelsey

Blazerworks- Special Education Advisor

“Katelyn Kelsey has a background in both special education, and general education in an elementary setting. She has worked in a resource capacity and self-contained for all eligibility categories including social emotional and behavioral needs. Katelyn holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education, as well as a Master of Arts in Reading as well as a Master of Education in Elementary Leadership, she holds credentials in Special Education Mild/Moderate, Elementary Education K-8, and Administration K-12. She also holds endorsements in Reading K-8 and English as a Second Language. Katelyn is currently working on her doctoral degree in Educational Policy and Leadership. ”

Sheila Callahan

Dove Mountain CSTEM K-8
Marana Unified School District

Jessica Leonard

Butterfield Elementary
Marana Unified School District

Cohort 3: 2021-2022 and 2022-2023

Ashton Gildea

Walden Grove High School
Sahuarita Unified

“I wanted to become a teacher leader for two main reasons. One is that teacher voices are vital to improving education and I wanted to be a part of making sure that teacher voices and needs could be heard and addressed. Second is that I felt so supported by other teachers in my first years teaching that I wanted to find a way to give back to the teaching community and help other teachers the way they helped me.”

Caroline Carson

Early Childhood, Wright Elementary
Tucson Unified School District

Ellen Floyd

Erickson Elementary, 5th grade, Math & Science
Tucson Unified School District

“I am beyond overjoyed to be a part of TREC. Becoming a Leader in my school & community is a very large goal that I have been striving for. I am looking forward to what I learn & gain from TREC & fellow educators.”

Jessica Jankowski-Gallo

Emily Meschter Early Learning Center
Flowing Wells School District

“Raising leaders in the classroom, to then let them lead the world.”

Lori LaRussa

Innovation Academy
Amphitheater School District

“I am so honored to be a part of the TREC program. Teaching is my passion and I am so excited to collaborate with other educators and support them on their teaching journey.”

Michelle Parces

Sonoran Science Academy

“I teach because I always wanted to help "save the world" and this lets me do that one child at a time.”

Patricia Moore

Canyon View Elementary
Catalina Foothills School District

“I am so excited to be a part of TREC! I am growing as an educator to be a better teacher for my students and I am looking forward to supporting other educators to do the same!”

Rosa Alvarez

Sopori Elementary
Sahuarita Unified

“Being part of TREC as a teacher leader is an exciting undertaking! I am looking forward to the many important discussions, learning opportunities, and the impact we will have within our communities as a whole.”

Shyleigh Scott

Holladay Elementary
Tucson Unified School District

“I'm excited for the opportunity to work with other teacher leaders to strengthen and make a difference in our education community.”

Founding Teacher Leaders

Jaime 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

Xochitl passed away in September of 2021 with a dedication and passion for education and her commitment to TREC as strong as ever. She will be forever missed and always in our hearts.

Edna Leyva

Baboquivari High School (English, AVID, Spanish)

“TREC has been the most meaningful PD of my career. Networking with teachers outside my district is an amazing experience and I look forward to more.”

Joni Lightcap

Tanque Verde High School (Math)

“I love being involved in TREC. It has given me perspective through this pandemic and the network of teachers has breathed fresh life into my life and classroom.”

Sarah Niegocki

Academy of Tucson Schools

“I chose to teach children with disabilities because they have the right to be loved, valued, and to learn just like everyone else. I love watching when something finally clicks in their mind, the excitement of understanding, and the overcoming of obstacles. I really love being a part of their journey.”

Justin Powell

Former Sunnyside Middle School (Math)

“Tucson has such amazing educators and TREC is focused on connecting and supporting them. I feel so lucky to be a part of the Teacher Leader program, because when teachers thrive, so do our scholars and communities.”

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.”

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.”

TREC Ambassadors

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.”

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.”

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)”

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)

“Our dreams are always bigger than our problems and it takes passion, inspiration, and drive from teachers in groups like TREC to work together for success. ”

April Rubasch

Orange Grove Middle School, Catalina Foothills School District

“Teaching is one of the highest art forms, as it not only reflects the craft and skill of the individual, but communicates the value of depth, reflection, and empathy in our complex world.”

Cohort 5: Coming FALL 2024