Instructional Leadership, emphasis: K-12 School Leadership (MEd)
View of There's a Reason I am a Teacher conference, showing rows of seats and people waiting for the conference to begin.


April 20, 2018 brought the 17th annual There’s A Reason I’m a Teacher Conference to NAU’s College of Education.

The theme for 2018 was “Networks of Hope: Community, Collaboration, Connections, Culture, and Commitment”.

Northern Arizona University’s TARIAT conference provides professional development opportunities for our teacher candidates as they interact with recognized outstanding teachers through keynote addresses and breakout sessions. NAU’s College of Education teacher candidates come away from this conference with information on best practices that they will soon use daily in their classrooms as they enter the teaching profession. The College of Education is grateful and proud to present this conference in partnership with the Arizona K12 Center, Arizona Educational Foundation, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

Get to know our 2018 conference keynotes:

Rudy Basaldua, 2017 Arizona Rural Teacher of the Year

Rudy Basaldua is the second grade teacher at Paloma Elementary near Gila Bend, Arizona. He received his dual bachelor’s in special and elementary education from Arizona State University and his associate of arts in elementary education from Central Arizona College. During his time as a second grade teacher at Paloma he was named Arizona Rural School Teacher of The Year 2017 and will contend for the national title in October 2018. He enjoys spending time with his fiancé, three children, and jumpstarting his non-profit organization “Kicks 4 Klass”, providing children shoes in rural communities free of charge.

Josh Meibos, NBCT, 2018 Arizona Teacher of the Year

Josh grew up along the Wasatch Front in Ogden, UT. He received his undergrad in communications from Utah State University and later his master’s in physical education from Arizona State University. Josh is in his seventh year teaching physical education at Crockett Elementary, where he started his teaching career. Josh is a National Board Certified Teacher, the vice-president of the Balsz district teachers association, and an Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow.

TARIAT also features the 2018 AZ Teacher of the Year Ambassadors for Excellence

Amy Ball

Amy Ball is a 12-year veteran kindergarten teacher. She loves the crucial time of exploration and discovery that happens in a kindergarten classroom, and adores watching children learn and grow. Amy serves her community as the president of her local Arizona Education Association affiliate, and uses her passion for children to advocate for public education and drive change in Arizona.

Allison Davis

Allison Davis, a kindergarten teacher at Knox Gifted Academy in the Chandler Unified School District, believes that learning should be fun, active and hands-on. Allison encourages her students to apply knowledge, take risks and make connections in order to better understand the world around them. Students in her classroom see themselves not as students who are there to learn from her, but instead as problem solvers on a collaborative journey to discover new ideas. Allison is Arizona’s 2012 Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. She enjoys working with teachers from across the United States to help them find new and creative ways to support and challenge all students in their classrooms.

Erica Davis

Erica Davis has a passion for her profession that started at a young age, teaching her younger siblings all the amazing skills and ideas she herself was learning in school. She now works hard to spread a love of learning to the secondary school students she teaches English to, focusing on writing instruction, growth mindset, and student reflection in her classroom. She has been teaching in the same school for the past 13 years here in AZ and has been a part of many amazing programs and successful projects while teaching and working with students outside of the classroom. She believes her strengths include organization, connecting with students, and enthusiasm for her curriculum. She is currently a National Board Certified Teacher Candidate working toward the completion of her application components.

Justean Palmer

Justean Palmer has been an elementary level educator for twenty-seven years. She holds a masters of Administration from Chapman University and a bachelors of Elementary Education from the University of Iowa. She has been a lead teacher, and early STEM advocate, in the Dysart Unified School District since 2001. Her lists of accomplishments include interest-based negotiations, district strategic planning and service on the AZMERIT state level committee. Ms. Palmer is the recipient of the Dysart Hero Award for Excellence and was named one of only four 2018 Ambassadors of Excellence by the Arizona Education Foundation.