Andrew F. Morrill was elected as the 88th president of the Arizona Education Association (AEA) on April 23, 2010 at the AEA Delegate Assembly. As president of the largest professional association in Arizona, he is committed to advancing the mission of AEA which is Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education for every Arizona student.
Morrill served two terms as AEA Vice President from 2004-2010. Prior to assuming the office of AEA Vice President, Morrill taught English and journalism for 16 years at Mountain View High School in the Marana Unified School District. He calls his years in the classroom “rewarding beyond all measure,” adding that the only pursuit that could take him from Mountain View was working for his public education colleagues across Arizona.
Morrill serves on the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, was a member of Governor Napolitano’s Committee for Teacher Quality and Support in 2005, and served on the Arizona State Board of Education’s Certification Advisory Committee in 2006. He was named a Tucson Realty and Trust Top 10 Teacher in 2000 and was named an Arizona Education Foundation Ambassador of Excellence in 2001. Nine times he was named a Marana Unified School District Top 10 Inspirational Teacher. Because this award is presented by a student, Morrill says it is this distinction that he values most.
Morrill, an Arizona native, received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from The University of Arizona in 1984 and began teaching in 1987. He completed his Master's degree in Educational Psychology in 2002.
Calling himself the second best teacher in his household, Morrill is married to another English Teacher, Pam Roggeman, also a former Ambassador of Excellence. They have five children, the latest born in May 2004.
Joe Thomas takes great pride in the work of the Arizona Education Association (AEA) and being a teacher. “When school employees come together through Association work, they are demonstrating their intent to create better public schools. The members of the Arizona Education Association lead from the values of fairness, equity, and respect.”
Thomas has been an AEA member since 1997 and in that time has served the Association in several positions, including AEA Board of Directors member, Mesa Education Association (MEA) vice-president, AEA Government Relations and Legislative Task Force chair, Finance and Revenue Committee member, and MEA site representative.
For the 14 years prior to becoming AEA Vice President, Thomas has been a public school teacher, most recently as a government teacher at Skyline High School in Mesa. Thomas believes a free public education system is important to the prosperity of our society. “When we invest in public schools, we are reaffirming the belief that all of us are better when all of us are better.”
Thomas is an Arizona State Board of Education Certification Advisory Committee member and previously served on the School District Redistricting Commission from 2005 – 2008.
Thomas received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma in 1995 and his master’s in adult education and distance learning from the University of Phoenix.
Thomas was born and raised in rural Oklahoma. He and his wife Valerie, a 5th-grade elementary teacher in Higley, have three children.
Nidia Lias has been a member of the Arizona Education Association (AEA) since she started teaching in 1995. In that time she has served the Association in many roles, including AEA board member, Tempe Elementary Education Association President, National Education Association Hispanic Caucus Western Regional Director, and AEA Ethnic Minority Caucus Treasurer.
Her passion about teaching came from her experience as an English Language Learner student growing up in San Diego, California. “Spanish is my first language and I can relate to the struggles that some students face due to lack of funding, understanding, and role models. Every student, regardless of background, deserves a quality public education.”
Lias earned her bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University in elementary education with bilingual education emphasis in 1995. She served on the Tempe Bond and Override Committee and was awarded the Tempe Diablos Award while teaching 5th grade at Frank School Elementary.
Lias lives in Chandler and has a beautiful niece who attends public school in the Washington Elementary School District.