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Puente de Hózhó’s Jillian Hernandez named Top Five Finalist for 2021 AEF Teacher of the Year

Jillian Hernandez Puente de Hózhó fifth grade teacher, Jillian Hernandez, has been named as a top five finalist for the 2021 Arizona Education Foundation (AEF) Teacher of the Year.  The annual Teacher of the Year program is the premier event of AEF, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to championing the exceptional work of public schools. The winner of the recognition will be Arizona’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year while the other four finalist candidates will serve as Ambassadors for Excellence.

An awards ceremony announcing the winner will take place virtually on October 23, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.  Information on viewing the event will be available at

Each candidate submitted a platform as part of the application process and Ms. Hernandez’s platform focuses on social justice and meeting the needs of diverse populations across Arizona.

“Education can and should be an act of social justice,” says Hernandez.  “If education does not allow for empowerment and action, then we have missed the point.”

Puente de Hózhó is a public bilingual magnet school that has a Diné (Navajo)/English and Spanish/English program and is currently seeking authorization to become an International Baccalaureate School. Ms. Hernandez graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish from Northern Arizona University. She also obtained a Master of Education degree in the teaching of mathematics from Western Governors University.

The Flagstaff Unified School District is proud of its history of teachers recognized by the Arizona Education Foundation.  Former Puente de Hózhó Principal Robert Kelty previously was recognized as the AEF Teacher of the Year while Jeffrey Taylor, Mary Lara, Kathi Baron and Jennifer McFarland were named Ambassadors for Excellence. Whitney Tapia and Christine Sapio were Semi-Finalists for the award.