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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: 2024-2025 (Year 1)

Amy Ruth Irwin Ball, M.A.

Tanque Verde High School—Tanque Verde
Grades 9-12, Geometry, Algebra II

As a second-career teacher, I still apply continuous improvement to my work. Consistently, I seek to exchange best practices with colleagues to better serve our read more... students. I inspire young people by giving them hope for their future and building their confidence in learning mathematics!


Lawrence 3-8—TUSD
Grades 3-5

Thrilled to be joining TREC! Teaching is my passion, and I find immense joy in serving my students. Eager to enhance my leadership skills and contribute to our education read more... community's growth and success.

Himani Dutta

Grijalva Elementary—TUSD
Grades 3-5

Teaching is the compass, education is the map, and leadership is the guiding light that illuminates the path to a brighter future.

Judith Magee

Alice Vail Middle School—TUSD
Grades 6-8

For the past 11 years, I have taught middle school math as a special education teacher, general education teacher, and return to intervention teacher. I love working read more... with middle schoolers because of their curiosity, humor, and eagerness to learn. When I have a struggling student, and when I see that my belief in him/her inspires confidence, it's the best moment ever. This is what keeps me teaching.

Karyn White, M.A., NBCT

African American School Services—TUSD
Response to Intervention Specialist

I am motivated to build loving, safe, positive connections with my students to help them find their voice and learn how to use it for good. I am blessed to be part of read more... TREC and help fellow teachers find their own excitement for their students & teaching.

Katie Risner-Adler

Tully Elementary—TUSD
Inclusive Preschool Teacher
Pre-K—Grade 2

My philosophy of education centers around the competency of children. I believe that children should be seen, heard, and valued as contributing members of their read more... communities not only in the future, but here and now.

Kellie Licking-Murray

Various Schools—Catalina Foothills
Learning Support Specialist
Grades 2-4, 6-8, 9-12

Equality is about sameness, but equity is about fairness and justice. I want to work and live in a community that strives for an equitable world where everyone's needs read more... are met; to dismantle barriers holding children and adults back, and to create pathways and opportunities for all to succeed.

Marlana Laughter

Amphi Middle School—Amphi
Intermediate ELD Teacher & ELD Coordinator
Grades 6-8

Teaching is a great way to keep learning. It excites me to see how motivated & confident students can become with the help of a supportive environment, and a group of read more... people that are just as excited to learn with them and teach them.

Matt Collins

Tanque Verde High School—Tanque Verde
Grades 9-12

As a math teacher with over a decade in the classroom, I’ve learned that all students can learn at high levels if provided with a place where they feel safe to play, read more... think deeply with others, and make mistakes. I always look forward to learning from and with other educators on how to better create this environment in my classroom, and I want to help other teachers make their classrooms a safe, thinking place, too.

Nicole Cozad, M.Ed; NBCT

Marana High School—Marana
Grades 9-12

I believe teacher leadership in education is the cornerstone of innovation and progress. Empowering educators to lead not only in the classroom but also in shaping read more... educational policies and practices yields transformative results. Through collaboration, mentorship, and advocacy, teacher leaders drive positive change, inspire their peers, and cultivate environments where every student can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

Rachel Hawes

St. Michael’s School—Private
Teacher and Technology Instructor
Grades 5-7

A strong education can lay the foundation for a purposeful and meaningful life. Raising young people to be analytical thinkers, who care about their fellow citizens, are read more... two of the most important tasks facing parents and educators at this time.

Rebecca Garcia

Manzanita Elementary—Catalina Foothills
Grades K-3

MaryAnne Wolfe inspires me every day as I teach my students to read. She said, "Deep literacy is directly linked to democracy. We must build and strengthen that read more... connection one child at a time." It is my joy and my privilege to be part of something so important.

Tania Robledo

Ocotillo Learning Center—Sunnyside
Special Education Preschool Teacher
Ages 3—5

When children feel seen and loved for who they are, that is when we can make the most meaningful impact in their life.

Tracy Laos

Tucson International Academy—Private
Instructional Coach
Grades K-12

Education, and lifelong learning, is a powerful gift available to anyone willing to do it. Learning takes many forms, to inspire and be inspired; succeed and fail; open read more... doors or create an opening that didn’t exist previously. I look forward to what I’ll be able to do with this new opportunity offered by TREC. To collaborate with and learn from some of Tucson’s talented educators and leaders. “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” — Leonardo da Vinci

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. read more... 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 read more... 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 read more... 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 read more... 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 read more... Tucson area. It is a privilege to work alongside such outstanding educators in the development of this collaborative.

TREC Ambassadors

Anamika Sood

Mansfield Middle School—TUSD
Cohort 4

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 read more... 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.

April Rubasch

Orange Grove Middle School—Catalina Foothills
Cohort 3

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 read more... our complex world.

Ashton Gildea

Walden Grove High School—Sahuarita Unified
Cohort 3

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 read more... 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.

Carmen Haber

CHIC Preschool, Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind
Cohort 2

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 read more... (teachers)

Caroline Carson

Early Childhood, Wright Elementary—TUSD
Cohort 3

Cerelo Flores

Indian Oasis Elementary School-Intermediate Campus—Baboquivari
Cohort 4

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 read more... 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.

Danielle Swartz

Innovation Academy—Amphitheater
Cohort 2

Deb Goepfrich

Agua Caliente Elementary—Tanque Verde
Cohort 2

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 read more... help teachers build resilience as they work in an undervalued and stressful occupation.

Ellen Floyd

Erickson Elementary—TUSD
Cohort 3

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 read more... learn & gain from TREC & fellow educators.

Emily Tate

7-8th Grade Art—Marana
Cohort 2

Jacqueline Gale (Ibarra)

Desert View High School—Sunnyside
Cohort 2

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 read more... 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.

Jennifer Lichtsinn

Northland Pioneer College
Cohort 4

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. read more... 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.

Jessica Jankowski-Gallo

Emily Meschter Early Learning Center—Flowing Wells
Cohort 3

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

Jessica Leonard

Butterfield Elementary—Marana
Cohort 4

Jillian Powers

Walter Douglas—Flowing Wells
Cohort 4

Kate Kelsey

Blazerworks- Special Education Advisor
Cohort 4

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 read more... 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.

Lori LaRussa

Innovation Academy—Amphitheater
Cohort 3

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 read more... journey.

Michelle Parces

Sonoran Science Academy
Cohort 3

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

Niki Tilicki

Amphitheater Unified School District
Cohort 2

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.

Patricia Moore

Canyon View Elementary—Catalina Foothills
Cohort 3

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 read more... same!

Rene Acereto

Wakefield Middle School—TUSD
Cohort 4

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 read more... the pleasure of experiencing both with our learners.

Rosa Alvarez

Sopori Elementary—Sahuarita
Cohort 3

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 read more... have within our communities as a whole.

Shay Humphreys

Donaldson Elementary—Amphitheater
Cohort 4

Sheila Callahan

Dove Mountain CSTEM K-8—Marana
Cohort 4

Shyleigh Scott

Holladay Elementary—TUSD
Cohort 3

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

Cohort 6: FALL 2026