3 Apache Junction Teachers of the Year, 2 Rookie Teachers of the Year announced


Three veteran teachers and two teachers in their first year of teaching were recognized virtually at the Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board meeting on May 12.

The winners for Teachers of the Year are:

  • Da Un “Andie” Chung, choir director at Cactus Canyon Junior High School and Apache Junction High School.
  • Alexis Scott, a preschool teacher at TLC preschool.
  • Lisa Smith, a reading specialist at Cactus Canyon Junior High School.

The Rookie Teachers of the Year are:

  • Claire Williamson, a history teacher at Apache Junction High School.
  • Jenna Zimmer, a kindergarten teacher at Desert Vista Elementary School.

The Teachers of the Year and Rookie Teachers of the Year event is in its second year.

The celebration is sponsored by CompuGroup Medical, a Diamond Sponsor, Valley Schools Trust, a Gold Sponsor and the Superstition Mountain Rotary Club, a Copper Sponsor.

Each Teachers of the Year and Rookie Teachers of the Year winner will receive $1,000, a plaque and a personalized video that commemorates their achievement.

Below are excerpts that were written about each winner.

Da Un 'Andie' Chung

In addition to her dedication to her students, Ms. Chung was lauded for being a successful fundraiser. She received more than $33,000 in donations to help her students.

In 2018 she received national recognition when she was named a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction award that recognizes dedicated educators whose passion and devotion inspire their students to grow and develop as scholars, leaders and citizens.

Alexis Scott

Throughout her career as a teacher, Mrs. Scott was described as being successful in helping children of all levels of development and functioning; this includes teaching children with developmental delays, autism, Down syndrome, ADD, ADHD and speech language impairment.

She is described as being an exemplary educator who always strives to go above and beyond to reach the needs of all students.

Lisa Smith

A veteran teacher described Mrs. Smith as “the finest teacher I have worked with in my teaching career."

The nominator went on to say: “Lisa takes on students who are having difficulties with reading and makes them want to be in her class. She finds new tools, refines them for her target audience and evaluates their effectiveness so that her students will benefit."

Claire Williamson

“Claire is a unique find; a first-year teacher who has gained the respect of her students, teaching colleagues and the administration,” wrote one of her colleagues.

“She prepares solid lessons for her students, even dressing as important historical figures to get their attention.”

Jenna Zimmer

“Jenna Zimmer is someone who was 'born to teach,'" wrote a colleague.

“Even in her first year of teaching she demonstrated that she can build the necessary relationships with students that make for a successful teacher in any grade, but is especially important in kindergarten. She is firm, fair and consistent and provides instruction in a gradual increase model.”

Registration for all AJUSD is currently being accepted online. Go to  ajusd.org for more information.

Editor's note: Sally Marks is AJUSD's public information officer.