Thu, May 23

Mingus nominates English teacher Klint McKean as county’s teacher of the year

Klint McKean

Klint McKean

COTTONWOOD – Two out of the past three years, a Mingus Union educator has been named Yavapai County Teacher of the Year.

Could Klint McKean be the third in four years?

Ask Mingus Union’s principal and acting superintendent, the answer is yes.

For Genie Gee, a visit to McKean’s English classroom is “full of robust discussion, powerful writing and engaged learners.”

“Over the summer, I was speaking with a colleague about back-to-school preparation, excitement, and the return of our amazing teachers,” Gee wrote in McKean’s nomination letter dated Dec. 10. “In that moment, I remember saying ‘I think this is the year of Klint McKean.’ Sometimes, you just know.”

For McKean, he also knew that teaching was his calling when he sat in finance classes at Arizona State University.

“On the first day of my first education class in college, the professor, a retired high school teacher, said to us, ‘You are entering into the noblest of professions.’ I smiled and felt like I was where I was supposed to be.”

Fourteen years later, “Not once” has he regretted the decision to teach.

“I am a public school teacher because I believe young people can become the best versions of themselves if given the right balance of freedom, guidance, and expectation,” McKean said. “That is why I teach.”

The best part of being nominated, he said, was reading Gee’s nomination letter.

“I had mixed feelings of ‘this is so cool!’ and ‘why me?’” McKean said. “She basically distilled the last 12 years of my professional life on to a single page, like a montage on paper. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. “It feels good when your hard work is noticed. But at the same time, I know how hard every teacher at Mingus works.”

The letter, McKean said, was a “beautiful tribute, very touching and heartfelt, and it’s part of what makes Genie such a good leader at Mingus.”

Rookie of the year?

Mingus Union English teacher Christian Fuller nominated Stephanie Vocca for the award of Yavapai County Outstanding First-Year Teacher. In his letter, Fuller said that Vocca, in her role as junior and senior English teacher was “born to be a teacher.”

“Her classroom management, instruction practices, and relationship building skills with her students are all reminiscent of a teacher who has been in the profession for multiple years.”

For Vocca, the nomination “encourages me and makes me want to put forth even more effort to better myself as a teacher every single day.”

“From day one, I put my head to the ground and worked my hardest in the classroom and having that hard work recognized by a seasoned staff member is very reassuring,” Vocca said. “To say that this first year has been challenging would be understatement, but at the same time, I have never been more fulfilled in my career.”

Vocca also said that being a teacher “embodies much more than just educating.”

“You are a mentor, a role model, a counselor, and sometimes a shoulder to cry on,” she said. “When I walk out of the classroom, I am still all of those things; it is not something that turns off. What that tells me is how invested I am in what I am doing”

This nomination encourages me and makes me want to put forth even more effort to better myself as a teacher every single day.

The annual ceremony and banquet for this year’s Yavapai County Teacher of the Year will be held on Friday, May 3 at the Prescott Resort and Conference Center, located at 1500 AZ-69.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42