PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – A North Canyon High School English teacher just found out that she’s been named Teacher of the Year, and her students surprised her with a parade fit for a queen.

KNIX Teacher of the Year

KNIX and Arizona Federal Credit Union presented Courtney Thompson with the award Wednesday. The Teacher of the Year announcement is the culmination of an ongoing monthly award from August through May. The monthly winners receive $1,000. The grand prize winner – the Teacher of the Year – gets $10,000.

“I’m still in just such shock,“ Thompson, all smiles, told Oliva Fierro Thursday morning. “I’m trying to wrap my mind around it. …This is insane? Who would have thought!”

“Ms. Thompson was chosen not only for her commitment to her students but her selflessness in gathering cash donations for students to help them with their college tuition,” according to a news release. “In fact, she gave half of her $1,000 she received as Teacher of the Month and gave it to an outgoing senior for college.”

“2020 is going to be the year that I don’t think any of us forget – especially teachers,” Thompson said. Despite having the school cut abruptly short by the coronavirus pandemic, Thompson said this was a special year for her. “It was just phenomenal. … I had a lot of younger siblings of students I’ve had before.”

KNIX Teacher of the Year

Thompson said she was grateful that she was able to keep up with her students via video chats. “It’s just having that relationship in a very different way, and being able to see how they’re doing and see how their family is doing and saying, ‘Hi,’ to their mom in the background …,” she said. “It’s kind of seeing their family life in a very different way.”

It’s a new perspective that she appreciates.

“I am just grateful,” Thompson continued. “None of us expected this, and certainly it has shown everyone a lot, I think.”

Presented by Arizona Federal Credit Union and the Arizona State Fair, the KNIX Teacher of the Month initiative is in its eighth year. Nominations come in from students throughout the Valley. The Teacher of the Year award is usually announced at a special event, but like so many other things this year, the coronavirus pandemic changed that. The car parade was organized to let Thompson’s students show their appreciation.

Last year’s winner was Kaelyn Buffard from Mesa’s Salk Elementary School.


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