LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Aimee Katz

Position: Second Grade Teacher
School: DeGrazia Elementary School
School District: Marana Unified School District
City, State: Tucson, AZ

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Aimee Katz (Miss Katz) was nominated by a colleague, Elyse Adams.

Miss Katz is the epitome of a LifeChanger: she is dedicated, motivated, and passionate about the success of her students. Teaching has always been a passion for Miss Katz.

"I have been honored with the privilege of being by her side as she went through her studies as an undergraduate in college, then as a colleague in a neighboring district in Tucson, AZ," Adams said. "I admire her for her continuous passion to ensure that her students are provided opportunities to be empowered and feel success as well as her drive for growth."

Many do not know the extra hours that Miss Katz puts into her job. Like many fellow educators, Miss Katz knows that her work goes beyond the school hours. Every morning, you will find Miss Katz busy at work starting at 5:15 am to be prepared for the moment her students walk through the door, pushing them to their highest potential.

Miss Katz does not solely teach second grade; she is a leader throughout her campus, modeling positive behavior through the activities she sponsors. She is the Student Council Advisor, an advisor for the Fuel 60 program, the School Wellness Coordinator for Pima County, runs the K'NEX program and the robotics club. She thinks outside the box and has provided her students with real world experiences by guiding them while they create their own business, called Corky Kids. These young entrepreneurs produce and sell items made from corks, and all proceeds go to chairities of their choice. 

Miss Katz' hard work and dedication go beyond her school's walls. She particpates in programs, both in the city and overseas.

"She continues learning and growing as an educator by participating in professional development opportnuities such as  being a STEMAZing Teacher leader through the Pima County Superintendents office," Adams said. 

Last summer, Miss Katz traveled to Israel to teach English to students in low-income areas. She gives up her time for others to help other grow as well as making sure that she has the correct tools to be the best educator that she can be. 

Miss Katz brings a breath of fresh air to her campus and her students. She is helpful to all and is always willing to give her time. She supports her colleagues and students by going above and beyond to adhere to the high moral and ethical standards that the profession requires.

"Aimee is much more than just a teacher: she is a nurturer who believes in her students full potential by going above and beyond to ensure that they know that they are capable of accomplishing their dreams," Adams said. "Miss Katz is a LifeChanger in my eyes, and it is my honor to nominate her to be a LifeChanger of the Year. She inspires her students and colleagues every day."

Aimee Katz In The News:
MUSD teacher nominated for National LifeChanger of the Year Award 

Comments (48)

Noah Hipple Posted over a year ago

Ms. Katz was a great teacher for me and helped me learn a lot of what I know today! She's one of my favorite teachers I've had! She truly cared for each and every one of her students including me.

Staci Garcia Posted over a year ago

Ms. Aimee Katz is a wonderful teacher; and my daughter had the privilege of being in her class at DeGrazia Elementary School. She provided excellent communication (to me) relating to how my daughter was doing academically. She showed empathy relating to my daughter's progress or struggles with math. My daughter frequently told me that she assisted her in answering her questions; and in helping her want to do better in school. She is a person with a lot of positive energy and a joy to be around. Her students and the school absolutely adore her.

Pamela Biletnikoff Posted over a year ago

I had the honor of working with Ms. Katz last year. Ms. Katz showed a level of support and dedication like nothing I have witnessed before. She was the first person at work each morning and the last to leave each day. In addition, she works on countless committees and volunteers her free time to support students. Ms. Katz and my class were buddy classes and worked together most Fridays on many activities. I was overwhelmed with her level of dedication to not only her students but each student at our school. She knows most of the students on campus by name and takes a personal interest in their lives and academics. She is truly a LifeChanger for so many students and teachers. I am a better teacher having worked with her so closely.

Danielle Larcom Posted over a year ago

Aimee is an amazing teacher as she sincerely cares about her students and their learning. Her passion extends outside of the classroom by inspiring and helping others be the best they can be.

Nicole Morris Posted over a year ago

Congrats Aimee - so well deserved!

Kristin Reidy Posted over a year ago

I had the honor of watching Aimee and her students in action. They were not only engaged learners, but they were empowered learners. It was amazing to hear the different student groups work together to accomplish project for an authentic audience. I appreciate Aimee's willingness to allow students to follow their passions, answer their own questions, and create their own learning! Thank you for changing lives Aimee!

Michael Fielder Posted over a year ago

Ms Katz is one of those teachers that you grow up and remember for the rest of your life. Our daughter was fortunate enough to be her student and still talks about her, refers to her often. She's obviously makes a huge impression on her students.

melissa Posted over a year ago

Ms. Katz is a prime example of a teacher, loves what she does, is very involved in her students and school.

Todd Rockoff Posted over a year ago

Aimee is a passionate educator who is committed to both the student and the family! Aimee looks for teachable moments in both formal and informal settings always with An eye toward student success. I have been honored to work with Aimee at the Tucson J and appreciate her long commitment to our agency and community

Shelley Fitzgerald Posted over a year ago

Aimee Katz is a wonderful, amazing educator. She goes above and beyond in all that she does and her care and compassion for kids is very evident. She truly is a LifeChanger!

Cathy Ruiz Posted over a year ago

Ms. Katz is very supportive of students with different learning needs. She got funding to provide her classroom with different seating options for students who needed to be able to satisfy their sensory needs while still participating in the classroom activities. She encourages critical and creative thinking in her students.

Laura Swenson Posted over a year ago

Aimee is a wonderful community member who inspires our youth and gives back to her community endlessly! Go Aimee!!??

Shelly Silverman Posted over a year ago

In addition to being a beloved and outstanding teacher, Aimee is an incredible community volunteer. She has a huge heart and a passion for ensuring that others who might need help can find it. She models this for her students, and she does it with leadership and compassion. Aimee is truly a LifeChanger!

Andra Karnofsky Posted over a year ago

What an inspiration! Thank you, Aimee!

Shelley Kirchner Posted over a year ago

I don't know Aimee, but have read the wonderful comments that her peers and the parents of her students have written about her. She has my admiration for all her accomplishments. I do know that when you love your students, and when you love to teach, your job becomes a new and exciting challenge every day. It sounds like this is how Aimee feels. She has my vote.

Carly Croman Posted over a year ago

Miss Katz is ahead of the curve. She is a life-long learner who invests in her own growth by engaging in cutting edge training and professional development. She approaches problems with a growth mindset and is always willing to collaborate. Watching her continue to challenge herself over the past few years has been amazing and clearly translates to her classroom. Miss Katz creates an environment where empowered, differentiated learning is not only possible but completely natural. I’m excited to continue to support her and her students in their incredible learning journey!

Linda Tumarkin Posted over a year ago

Aimee Katz is an excellent teacher and an inspiration to all who know her and have the opportunity to be in her classes.

Tiffany Posted over a year ago

Miss Katz is a great example of how a teacher can affect a child years after they are no longer a student. She was my son's 2nd grade teacher, at the end of that year he was having a lot of trouble with childhood anxiety. The beginning of the next year was very difficult for him to handle the change of so many new things. She was there to encourage him and discuss things in a logical no nonsense manner that really reached him. The next year was a little of the same for him with changes but she had a plan and he was able to make those changes much easier. I will forever be grateful for how she handled the situation.

Christopher Posted over a year ago

Miss Katz helped me by teaching me that it does not have to be all my way and it would still be okay. She also helped me by learning not to shut down all the time by realizing I needed to eat and that helped me be more focused.

DaNel Hogan Posted over a year ago

From a student in my high school physics class and an athlete on the softball team I helped coach to a stand out second grade teacher, Ms. Katz is definitely an outstanding teacher. She is one of eleven teachers selected to participate in our STEMAZing Teacher Leader Program. Ms. Katz is always looking for new and interesting ways to engage her students and to bring more opportunities into the classroom. She has designed and facilitated workshops for her peers and been very involved with the work we do here at The STEMAZing Project. She is changing the lives of her students and also working to make STEM education better in southern Arizona through her work as a teacher leader. Thank you for recognizing her commitment to education and to the children she teaches.

Sam Swegle Posted over a year ago

Ms. Katz has taught our son Carter since August 2017. We think she has done a great deal more than most other teachers. She regularly sends out emails to the parents, letting us know what is going on in the classroom and with the kids, sharing about the activities they are doing. She helped the kids create and manage a business selling hand-made cork crafts. We believe she truly cares for the success of the children and for their growth. She makes things fun and is unique in her approach to education. We are pleased with her work and her efforts.

Hila Yogev Keren Posted over a year ago

Aimee volunteered last summer in Israeli school in one of the most challenging areas in the city Kiryat Malachi. She decided to dedicate her summer vacation to meaningful voluntary work. While being in one of the most challenging classes, Aimee was highly motivated and positive. Aimee connected to the students on a different level. She opened up to them as they were constantly trying to ask her questions and learn from her. She opened their thinking to possibilities they wouldn't have dreamed of. thanks to her warm approach she established trust and used humour as a way to connect. I belive thees children have new outlook on life and on the options they have thank to Aimee! You truly made a difference! Thank you so much! In the name of all the Partnership2Gether family and the children of Kiryat Malachi.

Deidra Davis Posted over a year ago

At such a pivotal age, my son and his classmates are absolutely blessed to be with Ms. Katz. I can recall my second grade teacher, and the other second grade teachers when I was 8... they don’t hold a candle to Aimee. She is consistently the first one at school and I wouldn’t doubt she’d be the last to leave. The effort she put into these kids is immeasurable, her energy is infectious, and there are so many noticeable changes in my son. His passion for projects at home, school related or not, has grown. He has read more than ever before, and has become a sponge for information. She pushes him to do his best and doesn’t back down. Teachers I had would disregard any lack of effort and not try to help any kid to see their potential or to help them believe that they CAN. Beyond the classroom, she always keeps parents in the loop. If there is an issue, she lets me know. This allows me to follow up the same day and correct behavior. Her dedication to my son and his classmates is simply inspirational. The introduction of entrepreneurship has been an incredible experience. My son talks about it like an excited adult after a day at a job he loves. I believe one example will do...My son used to be a bit disrespectful when it comes to money and how we get it. He sat with me one day, after a long day at work, and apologized. He said because of Corky Kidz, he understands that work isn’t easy and he was sorry he thought money was just what we had. I attribute this to Aimee and the work she has put into their business. Bottom line, Aimee keeps her kids engaged in learning and that helps them to love to learn. Whether it’s reading, math, science, sports and health, the basics of business, or good old fashioned ethics, she has shown them that they are capable and they can do anything they put their minds and hearts into. I am beyond grateful that my son was put into Ms. Katz’s class. She is the truest example of what a teacher should be. Her love, passion, and dedication to her students makes her a Life Changer. She is the most deserving as not only has she changed the lives of her students, but of us parents as well.

Jennifer Posted over a year ago

My daughter was in Ms. Katz 5th grade class at Rattlesnake Ridge. During this year she was so engaged in learning in school. I believe this was a pivotal year in her education that taught her she could learn and succeed at anything she put her mind to. She is now highly successful in High School, ranked in the top 10. As a testament to a memorable year, my daughter still has the word art mirage created specifically for each student by Ms. Katz at the end of the year hanging on her bedroom wall.

Erin Posted over a year ago

Ms. Katz was my 5th grade teacher at Rattlesnake Ridge Elementary. I loved being in her class. I especially remember all the history lessons because they were interactive and fun. These lessons were the foundation that help me be more successful in my advanced history classes that I'm taking in High School. This was my most fun year in elementary school, all due to Ms Katz. She put so much into the lessons and it was so obvious she cared about each of us in her class.

Cynthia Bustamante Posted over a year ago

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Katz in her first year of teaching. She has always shown great dedication and love for her students in and outside of the classroom. I am not surprised that she has been nominated for this award!

Michael Bauschka Posted over a year ago

I have the privilege of working with Ms. Katz at DeGrazia Elementary School where I am the principal. Ms. Katz serves as our Student Council Advisor, leads our efforts in student wellness, teaches in our 21st Century Program, and does so much around our school. In addition Ms. Katz has continued her professional growth by working closely with the Pima County Superintendent's Office with STEM, has attended trainings out state, and taught last year in Israel. She models life-long learning! In her time at DeGrazia Ms. Katz has worked hard to provide her students with a rigorous and challenging learning environment where she strives to engage her students. She actively seeks out opportunities through grants and partnerships for her classroom and students. Thank you Ms. Katz for all you do!

Julian mares Posted over a year ago

I remember 5th grade as one of the best years at Rattlesnake Ridge.

Lara Markes Posted over a year ago

As a teaching and technology coach, I have had the opportunity to see Ms. Katz working with her students. They are so inspired by her and proud of the business she has helped them create. She is an innovator who isn't afraid to try new things in the classroom. She has high expectations for her students, and they are critical thinkers as a result. As a parent, I appreciate the after school clubs that she offers. She provides opportunities for our students to play, collaborate and learn even after the bell rings. Aimee Katz is a life changer for sure!

Alia Posted over a year ago

Ms.Katz was my fifth grade teacher at Rattle Snake Ridge and at the time I was going through family problems and my parents divorce. Ms.Katz helped me tremendously during this time along with pushing me to find things and subjects I was interested in. If it weren't for her I can't imaging where I would be now. Ms.Katz was a huge part of my life as my teacher.

Tamara Crawley Posted over a year ago

Ms. Katz is an inspiration to all who meet her. Her drive to enrich student's lives has provided exceptional, relevant, real-world learning opportunities for her students. Her style of teaching engages students and her passion transforms the classroom into a 21st century learning environment where students thrive. Marana school district is fortunate to have such a dedicated and qualified educator.

Megan Zucco Posted over a year ago

Aimee is an incredible teacher and loyal friend. She is someone that you can always rely on to go above and beyond. Her dedication to helping her students is admirable.

Marie Andersen Posted over a year ago

Aimee is a go-getter. She stays current in what is going on in the Tucson community and applies it in the classroom and every day life.

Lindsay Pasternack Posted over a year ago

There is no one more dedicated or deserving of this award. Aimee is a true teacher and nurturer who strives to reach the full potential out of each child. My children’s lives have forever been positively impacted by Aimee’s love for teaching and her passion for knowledge and adventure. Congratulations!!

Doug Wilson Posted over a year ago

Aimee Katz is doing an amazing job of engaging her students in real life scenarios and helping students who may not see themselves as innovators to explore the possibilities. Aimee has a heart for students and inspires them to achieve more than they think they are capable of. I appreciate her patience, vision and love for her students. She is changing lives everyday! As your Superintendent I am very proud of your dedication and commitment to your craft. Well done!

Nichole Rooney Posted over a year ago

Miss Katz taught both my kids in 2nd grade. She knew just how to challenge them which gave them the confidence to go above and beyond. I admire her passion for teaching and thinking outside of the box when it comes to teaching new things. Congratulations Miss Katz!!!!!

Sherrie Dennis Posted over a year ago

Aimee is dedicated to making sure students are engaged in hands on activities with her students. She spends many hours before and after school to help coordinate classes such as robotics and exercise classes that involve our families! She is an amazing and energetic young lady and such an inspiration for other young teachers in the field of education!

Shelly Kippur Posted over a year ago

Aimee has an amazing ability to engage multiple children at once and keep them focused. I’m always impressed by her passion for education!

Suzanne Kaldenberger Posted over a year ago

Miss Katz was a wonderful teacher to my daughter. My daughter had a tuff time in 1st grade and was struggling. She entered Miss Katz class for 2nd grade. Within a few months she a had a total turn around and made it on honor roll. Miss Katz was wonderful with her allowing her to be herself. Today Miss Katz is very active with the school and I hear a lot of wonderful things she has done. I hope that my son ends up in her class in a few years ?? Thank you Miss Katz for all that you do.

Jennifer Sodikoff Posted over a year ago

Aimee’s evolution has been a pleasure to witness. She is incredibly giving and determined to provide the best experience for her students. I am proud to call her a friend and am without a doubt that she is deserving of this award.

Sherrie Dennis Posted over a year ago

Aimee is dedicated to making sure students are engaged in hands on activities with her students. She spends many hours before and after school to help coordinate classes such as robotics and exercise classes that involve our families! She is an amazing and energetic young lady and such an inspiration for other young teachers in the field of education!

Doug Wilson Posted over a year ago

Aimee Katz is doing an amazing job of engaging her students in real life scenarios and helping students who may not see themselves as innovators to explore the possibilities. Aimee has a heart for students and inspires them to achieve more than they think they are capable of. I appreciate her patience, vision and love for her students. She is changing lives everyday! As your Superintendent I am very proud of your dedication and commitment to your craft. Well done!

Chanel Willis Posted over a year ago

I first met Miss. Katz two years ago, when my son got her as a second grade teacher. She was an amazing teacher. I saw so much growth in my son both academically and socially. She pushed him to be the very best he could be. Our experiences with her class were so positive that my daughter wanted nothing more but to be in her second grade class when she was in second grade. Well this year my daughter is in second grade and is in Miss Katz class By Request!!! My daughter is doing amazing in her class. My daughter enjoys going to school, she loves the classroom environment and loves being part of Corky kids. Miss Katz has gone beyond and above the Call of Duty to influence our young students lives. I think she's an amazing person and so deserving of this recognition!!!

Naomi Davis Posted over a year ago

So proud of you Aimee!! You have always been a leader and it’s no surprise you are continuing to go above and beyond! Your students are the real winners!! Way to go!! Bear Down and congrats!!

Fran Katz Posted over a year ago

Aimee is passionate and dedicated t her students. Always thinking of their best interests

Debra Feinberg Posted over a year ago

As Deputy Director of The TALMA Fellowship - an initiative that grows teacher-leaders like Miss Katz through a summer-long teaching fellowship in low income communities across the State of Israel - I endorse this nomination of Miss Katz. Miss Katz spent last summer with our fellowship in a community called Kiryat Malachi. Teachers who are selected to join our program are gifted a summer of professional development in Israel, an opportunity to challenge themselves outside of the regular school year, grow their leadership, and stand out within their home communities as pioneers of best practices within global and ESL education. Miss Katz elected to use her summer - her free time and time to recharge - to join us in our mission of bringing educational equity to low income students. She was commmited to serving her students in Israel, and also walking away from the experience a better, more well rounded, and cultured teacher for her students back in Arizona. TALMA congratulates Miss Katz on her nomination and encourages those determining the ultimate recipient to give Miss Katz due credit for the above and beyond efforts she puts in for her students. On behalf of the Talma Fellowship, Debra Feinberg Deputy Director TALMA: The Israel Program for Excellence in English

John Cahalin Posted over a year ago

As co-founder of a nonprofit that supports many incredible teachers...Aimee is a standout. She's all in, and her passion is contagious. My first email with Aimee ended this way, as will this comment...I wish I had her as a teacher :)

Melanie Weisman Posted over a year ago

I consider myself very lucky to get to work with Aimee on her student-run business. In addition to being a rockstar teacher, she took on a entrepreneurial program to empower her students, and encourage them to think outside the box. Even though she knew this would be a time commitment, and additional effort - she did not shy away from the challenge. She also happens to be kind, empathetic, and fun to talk too! Aimee is passionate about improving the lives of her students, and she deserves all the recognition in the world for her efforts (even though she would never ask for it!).