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Timothy Thomas (AZ '16)

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources

Laveen School District
Laveen, AZ

At the time of the Award, Timothy Thomas was:

Rogers Ranch School
Phoenix, AZ

Biographical Information

Timothy Thomas has earned a well-deserved reputation as a "turnaround" expert, gleaning from his experience as a master teacher with a keen eye for creating a supportive environment for teachers and students to thrive. When Thomas took over as principal at Laveen's Rogers Ranch School in 2013, the school was facing serious challenges: low student achievement, high staff turnover, discipline issues, facilities in disrepair and unhappy parents. One year later the K-8 STEM school had gone from a D to a high B in Arizona's school grading system. Teacher retention rates were up, and staff, students and parents were singing Thomas' praises. In 2014, the State of Arizona recognized Rogers Ranch, which serves a high-need community with a large percentage of English Language Learners, for outstanding growth in academic achievement.

Before joining Rogers Ranch, Thomas led a similarly successful turnaround effort as principal of Cordova Middle School in Phoenix's Alhambra Elementary School District. In Thomas' first year, the school beat state and district averages in student achievement, led the district in student and teacher attendance, and became Alhambra's highest-performing middle school.

Thomas' instructional leadership and dedication to mentoring teachers have been essential to achieving the gains at both schools. The principal regularly observes classrooms and provides frequent feedback to teachers. Thomas has also focused on bringing more technology into the curriculum at Rogers Ranch and providing tech training for faculty development. Other schools across Arizona use Rogers Ranch as a model for elementary STEM instruction and technology integration, and frequently observe Rogers Ranch via site visits and Google Classroom.

Thomas has made a lasting impact on his students, who often come back to update him on their progress in high school and college. During an assembly when Thomas was a teacher, one of his former students moved the audience to tears when he described Thomas' impact on his life. Thomas also has a talent for building bridges with families, encouraging parent involvement and turning resistant parents into vocal supporters.

Thomas began his career in education teaching middle school math in 2002. He has developed advanced math curriculum, established after-school outlets for students including tutoring, clubs and sports programs as well as partnered with a Science museum and created lessons for a new Saturday STEM program.

Thomas graduated from Arizona State University in 2001 with a bachelor's in elementary education. He earned a master's in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University in 2009.

Press release: There's No Limit to Achievement under Phoenix Principal Timothy Thomas, Honored with $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Related Connections

Article: Spotlight: Timothy Thomas (AZ '16)

Educator Quote:

"I know I'm succeeding as an educator when former students..." (read more)

Timothy Thomas Newsletters

New Milken Educators in CO, AZ, IN
Feb 17, 2017

Timothy Thomas In The News

'Meeting' on Chemistry Teacher's Day Off Turns Into $25K Educator Award
Arizona Republic  |  Jan 20, 2018  |  Phoenix, AZ

Laveen School Principal Surprised with $25,000 National Award
The Arizona Republic  |  Feb 15, 2017  |  Phoenix, AZ

West Valley Principal Wins National Education Award
KJZZ-FM  |  NPR  |  Feb 15, 2017  |  Tempe, AZ