PAYSON- Payson High School’s Andrew Fiala is the 2017 Gila County Teacher of the Year. Gila County Superintendent Roy Sandoval presented Fiala with the award at the May 9 Gila County Board of Supervisors meeting in Payson.
The purpose of the Gila County Teacher of the Year Program, established in 2011, is to publicly acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of professional educators who demonstrate excellence both in and out of the classroom.
“It was my great privilege to have initially brought this newly graduated young physics teacher from Illinois to Payson in the middle of the school year,” says Sandoval. “Over the last eight years I have seen him work tirelessly on behalf of students. He has also worked diligently to improve himself as an educator and professional. Andrew is a shining example of what an outstanding teacher should look like. This is a proud moment.” Fiala has taught in the Payson Unified School District for eight years. He teaches Intro to Physics, Physics, and Earth & Space Science.
Fiala was nominated by the parent of both a Payson High School graduate and current student who writes, “So often in Payson, we hear that our children don’t need challenging college preparation courses because they are ‘just from Payson.’ Mr. Fiala does not subscribe to that sentiment! He holds all of his students to the highest standards, challenging them to the maximum of their abilities.”
Fiala’s nominator also points out, “Mr. Fiala has a true enthusiasm about the subjects he teaches and passes this enthusiasm on to his students. He teaches through hands-on labs and projects rather than just lecturing and movies.”
Superintendent Sandoval and Mr. Fiala
“I work hard to empower my students so that they can see that they have the ability to learn anything,” says Fiala. “I strive to bring science education to Payson that is comparable to that of affluent areas in Phoenix and elsewhere across the country.”
Fiala is especially proud to have served in a rural school district his entire career.
Fiala was nominated for the Arizona Teacher of the Year Award in 2015, served as Payson High School’s Science Department Chair for the 2015-2016 school year, and is a member of the National Science Teachers Association. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Montana State University with a MS in Science Education and Magna Cum Laude from Illinois State University with a BS in Earth and Space Science Education.