Arizona’s teacher of the year makes learning fun

Aliyah Chavez

Lynette Stant is the first Native educator to win Arizona’s ‘Teacher of the Year’ award

Lynette Stant makes learning fun— and that’s the word from her students.

Now the state of Arizona knows, too. On Thursday Stant, accepted the award for 2020 Arizona Teacher of the Year. The honor came from the Arizona Educational Foundation.

Stant is a third grade teacher at the Salt River Elementary School, a Bureau of Indian Education school, located on the Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near Phoenix, Arizona.

“When I decided to get my teaching degree, I got it for a specific reason,” Stant says in a video on the foundation’s website. “I want to be the Native woman that Native American students can walk in and say, ‘oh that’s someone like me, I can be like that’ so I teach because of that reason.”

The award included an official declaration of October 24 as “Lynette Stant” day in the state of Arizona.

She will also receive $15,000 and an opportunity to travel across the United States for professional development programs.

That money should come in handy. Students reported that Stant is dedicated and sometimes she stays at school late to prepare for lesson plans.

“Mrs. Stant is nice and she helps us learn so we can get smarter,” says Jovanni, a student. Another student says they love her because of her creativity. “What I love about Mrs. Stant is she lets us do artwork and I love art,” says Kellia.

After the announcement, many took to social media to congratulate Stant, including Navajo Nation President, Jonathan Nez. 

Salt River Elementary School has approximately 280 students who are all enrolled members of local tribes. Stant, who grew up near Tuba City, has been teaching there for 16 years.

“Every student that walks into my door is my family,” Stant says. “My philosophy is that I have to build a relationship with them, because they’re my family.” 

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com

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