The Glendale Elementary School District (GESD) Teacher of the Year award was presented to Lacey Merritt, an eighth grade science teacher and teacher of special education at Coyote Ridge.
“I nominated Lacey Merritt because of her enthusiasm for the craft of teaching and her commitment to the success of her students,” wrote Kristen Adkins, a Coyote Ridge art teacher, in her letter of nomination. “In addition, her passion and tireless efforts extend outside the classroom to extracurricular activities encouraging a positive school culture.”
Merritt has been part of GESD as an instructor since 2004. Colleagues describe her as a gifted mentor and teacher; she is also a new-teacher mentor and grade-level department chair.
“I don’t know why exactly I do what I do,” Merritt says. “It’s just a part of me. I enjoy having the kids involved in their school. The more they are involved, the more they feel they’re invested and a part of the school.”
After graduating high school, Merritt joined the U.S. Army, earned her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and then continued her education after joining GESD, eventually obtaining a master’s degree in elementary education with technology from ASU.
“The military exposed me to so many cultures and really broadened my idea of the world,” Merritt says. “There are so many different cultures in the school and my experience in the military is really to my advantage and to the parents’ advantage because I can better understand what they want and different ways to do things.”
Merritt’s students just wrapped up the school year with projects including a SMART Fair where they got to show their science projects, a bottle rocket project where they used altitude finders to measure the height that the rockets flew and a “science buddies” project that paired older students with younger students to do science experiments.