Five Northern Arizona University alumni are among the state’s 11 educators who earned the title of Exemplary Teacher by the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona.

The Rodel Exemplary Teacher Initiative recognizes teachers in high-need schools in Coconino, Maricopa and Pima counties. This year the foundation selected 22 finalists around the state, with 11 winners chosen to receive $5,000 and serve as mentors for Rodel Promising Student Teachers for the next three years.

For recipient Christopher Hull, the award brings his teaching journey full circle as he has gone from protege to mentor. Hull, a two-time NAU alum, participated in the Rodel student teacher program in 2009 under Rodel Exemplary Teacher Kamalene Nelson of Thomas Elementary School. Six years later Hull enjoys sharing his love of science with seventh and eighth graders at Mount Elden Middle School and continues to provide support for future teachers through NAUTeach.

“We are very proud to have these NAU graduates recognized as exemplary educators,” said Michael Sampson, dean of NAU’s College of Education.

Sampson said the university’s partnership with Rodel is a key to the success of Arizona teachers, citing the Rodel Promising Student Teacher program. Thus far, the 145 exemplary teachers selected through the program have mentored more than 500 teachers, including Hull, throughout the state.

Listed below are the Rodel Exemplary Teachers for 2014, degree earned from NAU, grade taught and city in which they work:

Chistopher Hull, bachelor’s in liberal arts and master’s in education, seventh and eighth grade, Flagstaff
Jennifer Lauzon, master’s in elementary education, K-6 resource, Phoenix
Monique Peralta, master’s in bilingual and multicultural education, fourth grade, Tucson
Tasha Smith, master’s in elementary education, fourth grade, Phoenix
Veronica Villegas, bachelor’s in hotel restaurant and management, sixth grade, Flagstaff

Additional finalist teachers are:

Maria Antonieta Aguirre-Acedo, bachelor’s in elementary education and master’s in bilingual and multicultural education, sixth grade, Chandler
Valerie Kuck, master’s in elementary education, K-6 resource, Phoenix
Jillian Worssam, master’s in bilingual and multicultural education, eighth grade, Flagstaff

See the full list of recipients here.