Parra-Quinlan was selected from the five 2022 Ambassadors for Excellence that were identified by the foundation in September and announced at the Arizona Educational Foundation’s annual awards ceremony on October 16, 2021. AEA is a proud sponsor of the AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year program.
A veteran teacher for over 27 years, Parra-Quinlan has taught at Kino for the past 15 years. She teaches her junior high students robotics, engineering, aerospace, as well as a medical detectives course. Parra-Quinlan has received numerous accolades during her career, including being named 2nd runner up for the Air Force Association’s National Teacher of the Year and was the Frank Luke Chapter of the Air Force Association’s nominee for 2017 Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year. She received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and her Master of Education at Northern Arizona University, with Bilingual (Spanish) and ESL endorsement.
Parra-Quinlan is also the director of the Mesa Public School’s summer Aerospace Academy, the coach of the Lego League Robotics team for Kino Junior High, and the sponsor of Kino’s STEM Club, known as “SIMI,” which stands for “STEM Institute for Manufacturing and Innovation.” Parra-Quinlan also volunteers with the Civil Air Patrol, both as the statewide Assistant Director of Aerospace Education and with the 305th Squadron at Falcon Field in Mesa as the Aerospace Education Officer. She holds the rank of captain in the Civil Air Patrol.
One of reasons Parra-Quinlan was selected by the Teacher of the Year panel was her strong commitment to providing students with real-world skills in STEM as well as Career and Technical Education. Parra-Quinlan states “Arizona is a magnet for technology companies, including aerospace, electronics and other manufacturing industries. We must sufficiently fund public education in our state in order to prepare our students to work in the industries that will be most abundant in Arizona over the next few decades.” Parra-Quinlan is an advocate for girls in STEM and believes a focus on STEM career-readiness is vital, especially before students reach high school.
Parra-Quinlan intends to spend her “year of service” as an Arizona Teacher of the Year advocating for STEM education, especially the inclusion of girls and Students of Color, who are vastly underrepresented in STEM careers.
As Arizona’s Teacher of the Year, Parra-Quinlan becomes a candidate for National Teacher of the Year. She will receive $15,000 from the Arizona Educational Foundation as well as a trip to the White House to meet the U.S. President, and will spend a week at International Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. She will also be given professional speech and media training, consideration to receive an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University, and an Arizona K12 Center Scholarship. She will also be a participant in the Fiesta Bowl Parade and receive other gifts from corporate sponsors.
Additionally, AEF named its four Teacher of the Year finalists, called “Ambassadors for Excellence,” who will serve with Parra-Quinlan as spokespersons for their profession, advocating for excellence in the classroom by making presentations statewide to education, civic, government, and professional organizations.
The four 2022 Ambassadors for Excellence are:
- Isaac District Education Association member Jason Catanese, Math teacher at Pueblo Del Sol Elementary School.
- Glendale Union Education Association member Lindsey Peterson, English teacher at Apollo High School.
- Ashton Gildea, Walden Grove High School teacher in Sahuarita Unified School District.
- John Carlo Tulinao, Amberlea Elementary School teacher in Pendergast Elementary School District.