AzTEA believes a significant impact can be made at every educational level. Innovative leaders inspire change among all. We recognize educators, support personnel, administrators, and community members who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to educational technology in Arizona.

  • They model an understanding of the social, ethical, and legal issues and responsibilities related to our evolving culture.  
  • Their work serves as a model for using technology to support standards-based curriculum.
  • The nominee's work has a significant positive impact on technology use in education.  
  • They have integrated deliberate planning in an effort to improve education through the use of technology.  
  • They design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning opportunities and projects incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context.
  • They promote learning environments in which digital citizenship is valued and respected.
  • The quality of education and the work experience has been significantly advanced as a result of the nominee's efforts.  
  • The nominee continually improves professional practice and shares his/her talents.

(adapted from CUE Awards and Programs descriptions)


2016 AzTEA Elementary Teacher of the Year:
Kristi Frederiksen, Cave Creek Unified School District

2016 AzTEA High School Teacher of the Year:
Dean Shaddy, Flagstaff Unified School District

2016 AzTEA Administrator of the Year:
Sonia Bustamonte, Cartwright School District

2016 AzTEA Tech Director of the Year:
Nathan Myers, Mesa Public Schools

2016 AzTEA Pre-Service Faculty Teacher of the Year
Lynda Scott, ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

2016 AzTEA Technology Support of the Year:
Robyn Griffith, Creighton School District

2016 AzTEA Champion for Educational Technology:
Vanessa Zuritta, Cartwright School District

2016 AzTEA Ruth Catalano Leadership Award
Judith Romero, Retired Educator and ATEA ISTE Rep


2015 AzTEA Teacher of the Year- Pre K-12:
Nicole Whitt, Vail Unified School District

2015 AzTEA Outstanding Administrator:
Dr. Gail Pletnick, Dysart Unified School District

2015 AzTEA Ruth Catalano Friend of Technology:
Nan Williams, Alhambra School District

2015 AzTEA Tech Director:
Mark Breen, Vail Unified School District

2015 AzTEA Teacher of the Year- Initial Teacher Preparation
Ashleigh King, Arizona State University

2015 AzTEA Ed Tech Specialist:
Heather Breedlove, Flagstaff Unified School District

Innovation Awards Categories and Past Winners


Category descriptions:

Teacher (Elementary, Middle, High School)

A classroom teacher (Pre-K- 12) who:

    - Facilitates the development of 21st Century Skills through the incorporation of technology in a meaningful context
    - Frames learning with project and inquiry-based approaches
    - Demonstrates an enthusiasm to share and promote effective academic technology use with others inside and outside the educational setting
    - Is a model and mentor for other educators in creating a blended learning environment of content and technology

The award winner will become AzTEA's nominee for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Outstanding Teacher Award, unless ineligible as per ISTE's requirements.

Teacher (pre-service faculty)

A higher education faculty member (13-20) who:

    - Prepares teacher candidates (pre-service teachers) with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to effectively integrate technology into their future classroom practices
    - Prepares teacher candidates (pre-service teachers) with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to become a school leader and advocate for educational technology
    - Models 21st Century instruction through the meaningful use of educational technology
    - Frames learning with project and inquiry-based approaches
    - Shares and promotes effective academic technology use with others inside and outside the classroom setting

The award winner will become AzTEA's nominee for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Outstanding Teacher Award, unless ineligible as per ISTE's requirements.


An administrator at the school, district, or county level who:

    - Skillfully recognizes and utilizes technologies that make the institution more efficient and effective
    - Uses technology to engage the community and families of the district and encourage further support of innovations in the classroom
    - Encourages teachers to expand his/her professional skills and knowledge by creating opportunities for collaboration, independent learning, and training specific to 21st Century Skills, content and technology usage
    - Demonstrates personal commitment to and confidence in the use of technology to deepen student learning
    - Coaches, mentors and celebrates staff who take risks in the pursuit of good teaching and learning

The award winner will become AzTEA's nominee for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Outstanding Leader Award, unless ineligible as per ISTE's requirements.

Technology Director

A site, district, or county technology administrator who demonstrates exceptional support for technology use in teaching and learning.

    - The nominee is a strong leader in his/her district with a dynamic vision for the use and integration of technology
    - The nominee advances the district’s technology plan through collaborative efforts within and outside the district
    - The nominee demonstrates a mastery of fiscal management, including funding structures, and funding opportunities
    - The nominee fosters student and teacher success in the district by creating a technology-enriched environment that connects  curriculum, infrastructure, and the classroom to assure a wide variety of educational opportunities
    - The nominee works to ensure that all district staff within his/her district are provided relevant, quality technology professional development, though they may not be directly involved in the training
    - The nominee makes effective and creative uses of technical support staff to support and enhance the school mission

AzTEA Ruth Catalano's Leadership & Service Award

Dr. Ruth Lytle Catalano (1941-2013) was committed to education, teaching High School and later earning both her Masters and Doctorate in Education. She left the classroom, but not teaching, and started working at the Westside Area Career/Occupation Project where she began her lifelong dedication to technology in education. Ruth was the official "grandmother of AzTEA" and continued to promote technology in education through conferences, webinars, and working with the Arizona Department of Education. The nominee has Ruth’s passion and demonstrates interest, support and active participation in educational technology in any aspect. Nominees for this Award may have demonstrated excellence in this area through one or more of the following outcomes:

    - Is an educational colleague who migrated to and supports technology in education
    - Is in the public media arena supporting technology through supportive publications and reports
    - Incorporates technology into his/her charities, avocations and personal lives for the better of students and education
    - Is an active “cheerful volunteer” promoting technology in education by volunteering his/her time and expertise

Technology Support

A nominee for this category is a repair, help-desk or building IT support person for the classroom and staff. This nominee must:

    - Be available within a comfortable response time
    - Have a range of skill sets that meets the location needs
    - Support and encourage educators as they expand his/her technology use
    - Actively promotes “user independence” in a comfortable manner

Champion for Educational Technology

A site or district trainer, coach, Library Media Specialist, Ed Tech Specialist, or peer mentor who facilitates effective impactful technology use in education and training.

    - Demonstrates innovative thinking and deep understanding of the goals of 21st Century learning
    - Recognizes and practices true integration to meet standards and student needs
    - Is proactive in staying current in emerging educational technologies and application
    - Serves as a liaison between district technology departments and classroom teachers
    - Coaches and mentors teachers of all skills levels to improve his/her use of technology for instruction and productivity
    - Demonstrates by daily activities the concept of 21st Century Learning by using both traditional tools (print) and digital tools
    - Shares knowledge of technology applications with others as a peer and guide