The home page of the Payson Unified School District states: “CTE Teacher honored as Arizona Rural Teacher of the Year 2012-13. Congratulations to Marlene Armstrong, Rim Country Middle and Payson High School computer and engineering teacher!”
Congratulations indeed. This is the third award this year for Armstrong, who teaches at both schools and recently launched an innovative, hands-on engineering class.
In fact, it was her ability to move between the two schools that made an impression on judges.
“I literally asked why they picked me and they said it was the fact I could transition between the two schools and various grades seamlessly,” said Armstrong.
The judges from the Arizona Rural Schools Association chose Armstrong out of 10 other candidates.
“They were all amazing teachers,” said Armstrong. “As I listened to their list of accomplishments I would say, ‘Ooo — that one’s gonna win,’” said the engineering and careers teacher as she sat in the audience at the awards breakfast in Flagstaff.
Armstrong said rural teachers have unique needs compared to their urban counterparts.
“For me, I teach four subjects at five different levels,” she said.
In comparison, urban teachers often specialize in one subject for one grade level, while rural teachers often have to wear many hats.
For the Arizona Rural Schools organization awards, Armstrong had to be nominated by a fellow teacher, submit a bio, resume and write about her teaching philosophy and experience as a community volunteer.
Armstrong has been entered for National Rural Teacher of the Year. She will not know the results until next year.
The former Arizona Rural Teacher of the Year, Shaun Martin, did win this past year as the National Rural Teacher of the Year.