4 PUSD teachers nominated for Coconino County Teacher of the Year
Four teachers from Page Unified School District have been nominated for Coconino County Teacher of the Year.
The teachers are Erica Pullin, art teacher at Lake View Primary; Jodian Brown, 4th grade teacher at Desert View Intermediate; Eugena Trujillo, industrial tech teacher at Page High School; and Kayley Montes, math teacher at Page High School.
Erica Pullin was PUSD’s Certified Employee of the Month in the past, as well as its Certified Employee of the Year for the 2022-23 school year.
Pullin is known for dressing up in a new costume every day. She creates most of her costumes at home. The costumes she wears reflect the kindergarten’s pacing guide for what letter they’re studying that day. For instance, when the kindergarten class was learning about the letter “L,” she dressed as a lion, and she pointed this out to her students.
“What am I today?” she asked her class.
“A lion,” one of her students answered.
“And what letter does that start with?”
“An ‘L,’” one of the students answered.
“That’s right,” Pullin said. “Well done!”
Pullin displays her students’ art throughout the Lake View hallways. Each display is accompanied by a description of the art unit, such as line, curve, etc.
Lake View Principal Brian Henderson was happy to see Pullin nominated for Coconino County Teacher of the Year and not one bit surprised.
“She’s incredibly dedicated and brings a great balance having fun and being creative and also being firm and holding her kids to high expectations,” said Henderson. “She uses her own time to put up the student artwork around the campus. It looks very fun and exciting and, best of all, it has a big impact on how they feel. They can see their work and the work their friends did, and that gives them a great deal of pride.”
As much fun Pullin brings to her classroom and Lake View in general, she takes her work very seriously, Henderson said.
“She is incredibly meticulous and reflective,” he said. “Every lesson she gives her students, she continues to evolve it. Whatever art lesson she does for second grade on Monday, she continues to evolve it. Whatever class has it on Friday has a really polished lesson. And each new year, she looks back on her notes and picks up on last year’s lesson. Its makes for really refined teaching.”
Jodian Brown is a 4th grade teacher at Desert View Intermediate. This is her fifth year teaching at Desert View.
“She’s a leader and she wants to support the growth of her fourth grade class and her team,” said Desert View Principal Mary Stahl. “Her students love her and trust her. She has created a special learning environment that is safe and supportive so that her students can take risks and try new things.”
One of the reasons Brown was nominated for Teacher of the Year is her drive to go the extra mile for her school. Last year, she organized a Career Day at Desert View, which required dozens of hours of extra work outside of her regular work load. Brown invited a wide range of Page professionals to the event. It was a huge success, with area professionals filling the Desert View gym.
Brown organized the Career Day to expose Desert View students to different career choices, and what route they’d need to take to reach those goals. Brown will organize Desert View’s Career Day again this year.
“One of the most beneficial things Jodian is able to teach her students is to develop a growth mindset,” said Stahl. “It’s pretty incredible to see the progress her students make during the year they’re with her.”
Eugena Trujillo is an industrial tech teacher at Page High School. This is her ninth year teaching. She teaches Construction I and II, and Drafting I and II as well as coordinates internships for students in those classes.
Trujillo recently represented the CTE programs for several Coconino County high schools: Page High School, Fredonia High School, Williams High School, Grand Canyon High School, Flagstaff High School and Coconino High School. The excellent job she did at that really made her and the achievements of her classes stand out, said Chuck Sharp, Page High School’s CTE director.
Last year, her students had the highest technical skills assessments in both construction and drafting.
“That really made her stand out,” said Sharp. “After seeing her students’ skills assessments that right here sold it. It was a slam dunk.”
Sharp believes Trujillo gets big results from her students because of her classroom management and the rapport she builds with them.
“Her relationship with her students is outstanding,” said Sharp. “They follow her. She’s very strict. She’s firm but fair. She’s able to get great results from her students because they have so much respect for her.”
Kayley Montes teaches math at Page High School. She is a second-year teacher. She is actually nominated for Rookie Teacher of the Year.
One of Montes’ most prominent character traits is fearlessness in the face of challenges.
“Kayley has willingly taken on any and all challenges that have been thrown at her,” said Leigh Guenther, Page High School’s principal. “Nothing seems daunting to her.”
Another one of Montes’ big positives is the rapport she has built with her students.
“One of the cool things she’s done to make her kids feel welcome in her classroom is she has them all give her their music playlists,” said Guenther. “When the kids are working, she’ll put on one of their songs. It brings a good vibe to her classroom. And since she is a young teacher and pretty close to the students’ age, she’s not far removed from being a student herself. It makes it easy for her to relate to her students and for them to relate to her.”
Another thing Montes does that her students appreciate is keeping her classroom open during lunch period. It gives the students a safe, fun place to if they need to chill out for a while.
“Kayley is one of our up and comers,” said Guenther. “She’s got a bright future here at PUSD.”