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Arizona State University alumnus Josh Meibos has been honored as this year's Arizona Teacher of the Year — an annual award given by the Arizona Educational Foundation.
In order to be named Teacher of the Year, nominees must maintain an active and useful role in their community while gaining the respect of students, parents and co-workers. No one fit that bill better than Meibos, who is the PE teacher at Crockett Elementary School in east Phoenix, a position he has held for all seven years of his career.
"I get to be a positive role model, sometimes the only male role model a student interacts with," Meibos said. "I just use one of our students' favorite subjects, physical education, and teach kindness and respect for themselves and each other."
The 39-year-old got a job managing Abercrombie & Fitch stores right out of college, but left that career as a business professional nine years ago.
He decided education was what he wanted to do next with his life, and that brought him to Tempe. Meibos was soon a graduate student at ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, where he completed a master's program that allowed him to pursue his new dream of becoming a teacher.
"The faculty (at ASU) gave me the confidence I needed, and the program surrounded me with like-minded peers," Meibos said. "We geeked out on the physical education curriculum.”
An athlete while in college, Meibos' position as a PE teacher allows him to stay connected to athletics while playing the role of half-coach/half-instructor. The opportunity to stay connected to sports while also working with students was one he jumped at.
"Throughout my collegiate career, I always found myself involved with teaching and coaching opportunities," Meibos said. "The passion has always been there, so a career change in that direction seemed obvious."
Meibos was presented with the award at an Arizona Grand Resort luncheon earlier this month. The award comes with a $15,000 cash prize, a visible platform for education advocacy and a trip to the White House. He is also now eligible to be named the National Teacher of the Year.
Meghan Krein contributed to this story.