John J Ross Award

John J. Ross Memorial Award for Excellence in Law-Related Education

This award recognizes exceptional contributions of Arizona educators in furthering understanding of the role of the law in our democratic society. Nominations are due March 1st and are to include the individual's name; school; address & other contact information; the award for which they are being nominated and contact information of the nominators; a summary of their characteristics, experiences, and service that qualifies them for the award; and support letters from others may be included.

Email Nomination

2020 awardees

Eric Alvarez
Glenn L. Downs Elementary
Program: We the People, & Kids Voting Arizona
Maricopa County

Eric Alvarez may also teach Algebra, but his passion lies with civic education.  Each year, Mr. Alvarez takes his student to the Federal Courthouse to participate in the annual CourtWorks program, a mock trial program hosted by the court and ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.  Eric also has his students showcase in the We the People hearings.  His students say that these experiences “change their lives by building confidence, tenacity and self-esteem.” Mr. Alvarez also participates with several students in the Kids Voting Student Advisory committee. He continues to keep in touch with students after they have left his class and school and is looked at as a mentor by alumni.

Joshua Guidote
Cibola High School
Program: Mock Trial
Yuma County

Normally, a teacher is not selected for the Ross memorial two years in a row, but the overwhelming amount of nomination letters and emails, especially from his students, made it hard not to honor him one more year!  Mr. Guidote has been bringing a mock trial team to the High School Mock Trial Championships for 3 years.  As one student wrote “the only reason that there is a mock trial class and program available in (Yuma’s) district is because Mr. Guidote has fought year after year to prove himself in front of the school board that he is capable of leading a group of extraordinary students to state and will continue to do so until his retirement.”

 Roger Lyman
Carson Junior High
Program: Kids Voting Arizona
Maricopa County

Roger Lyman has a passion for civic engagement which he demonstrates not only in his classroom but also to the greater student populations.  Each year, Roger invitees veterans from the Joe Foss Institute who explain the purpose and structure of the US Constitution. He has his students write letters to government leaders so that students can better understand the representative democracy.  Mr. Lyman teaches public policy by picking topics of interest to the students.  Roger also serves as a Kids Voting Leadership Council advisor for both his school and the neighboring high school and brings 4-5 students to the monthly meetings.  These are just some highlights of the a few of the civic projects Roger brings to his school and community to help these students become better citizens.

Jeremy Samoy
Tanque Verde High School

Program: Mock Trial
Pima County

 To try and boost the amount of teams participating in mock trial, Jeremy Samoy encourages schools to start teams.  He began to mentor these teams to help with technique, procedures

 or any question teachers might have – all on this own time. As part of getting more schools into Mock Trial, in addition to his mentorship, Jeremy started a practice competition a few years ago.  This competition is held in early November of each year and is open to students who are in their second year or less of competing.  This competition is run by Jeremy and his students, and each year, they put on a well-organized and fun event.  This practice round is incredibly helpful to new students to see what the process truly looks like, and with an added competition for the year, gives students something to look forward to each semester.  

2019 awardees

Tara Bartlett
Carson Jr. High School
Program: We the PeopleKids Voting & Project Citizen
Maricopa County

Ms. Bartlett has implemented the Project Citizen Program, taking a team to the Foundation’s State Showcase for the first time in May 2018. Her class also presented their Project Citizen plan to the Mesa City Council. Not all teachers who implement Project Citizen follow through with a presentation to a governing body. She has participated in the Kids Voting (KV) Program in numerous methods. She hosted a KV election on her school campus during the Foundation’s 27 Days of Kids Voting and worked with the administration to ensure the entire student body had the opportunity to vote. She recruited student poll workers and arranged to utilize the school library. Additionally, she serves as a teacher mentor for the Kids Voting Leadership Council (KVLC). She nominated 2 eighth grade students for the council and brings them to every monthly meeting so that they can be leaders in youth voting. Upon hearing that her current 2 KVLC students may not have a teacher mentor when they transition to high school next year, she offered to collaborate with the high school administration to transport the 2 students during the 2019/2020 school year so that they would not have to surrender their seat on the council. Her commitment to civic education and her students is admirable. 

 Additionally, Ms. Bartlett has been a We the People Event Coordinator for the We the People Region Competitions/Showcase for several years.   Her region is larger than the state competition and she manages both high school competitive and middle school showcase teams.  The events are always beautifully administered. For 2019-20 she has volunteered to run a separate high school competition and middle school showcase.  Her contribution as event coordinator ensures that students from throughout the east valley are able to participate in the We the People program by completing the simulated congressional hearings. 

Joshua Guidote
Cibola High School
Program: Mock Trial
Yuma County

Mr. Guidote has shown his dedication and passion for teaching students about the legal world and helps those with their heads in the clouds find a career they want to pursue, whether it be in the legal field or not. He cares so much about his job as a teacher and how he impacts his student's, lives and that really shows from his lessons and how everyone in mock trial is so close and supportive with each other. From his nomination: "Mock Trial for us, is not just a class and a club, it's a family and we can thank Mr. Guidote for making and bringing us all together as a family."

Bill Stewart
Santa Maria Middle School
Program: We the People
Maricopa County

Bill Stewart has been an 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Santa Maria Middle School for over 16 years.   Mr. Stewart came to Education as a second career, following a 20 year career with the United States Marine Corps.  Mr. Stewart then served as a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy for a brief period before becoming a full-time educator.  During his time at Santa Maria, Mr. Stewart has worked closely with several SRO's to provide Law-Related Education to middle school students.

Mr. Stewart has been key to bringing the “We the People” program to 8th graders at Santa Maria Middle School.  Mr. Stewart participated in the first James Madison Legacy Project cohort, which allowed him to provide “We the People” textbooks for the use of all of his students.  Mr. Stewart also participated in a follow-up training this past summer in

Tombstone, Arizona to further enhance his knowledge of the program.  Mr. Stewart assisted in bringing the Kids Voting program to Santa Maria Middle School this past November, and worked diligently to help schedule a series of presentations from members of the Hispanic National Bar Association this December.  Members of the HNBA conducted a case study analysis with our 8th graders on the Fourth Amendment, and made presentations to 7th and 6th grade students on careers in the legal profession.

Richard Zamorano
Sunnyside School District 
Program: Mock Trial & We the People
Pima County

Mr. Zamorao has shown a deep passion for the curriculum provided by the We the People: the citizen and the Constitution. He has for the last four years, participated in the Congressional Region 3 Mock congressional hearings. He brings a joy, smile and consistency in bringing this amazing experience to his students. 

2018 awardees

Harrison Chislock 
Prescott High School
Program: We the People
Yavapai County

Mr. Chislock has demonstrates his passion for excellence through his engagement with the Foundation’s annual We the People competition. His leadership has allowed for students’ successful preparation for the regional and state competitions. Mr. Chislock believes in the value of Constitutional studies and strives to make students excited about the law. His unique emphasis on the Constitution has garnered students’ respect for the document as well. His efforts have not gone unnoticed and have had a positive impact on his students.

Jake Harvey 
Hamilton High School
Program: We the People
Maricopa County

Mr. Harvey has been participating in the We the People competitions for six years. He even led his class to victory this last year in the state competition and received a unit award in the national competition. In previous years, he has taken first place in district competitions as well. Mr. Harvey has completed the James Madison Fellowship in 2017 and hence provides professional development to other motivated instructors. Currently he is pursuing a Masters in Legal Studies through Arizona State University. His dedication to the We the People competition as well as law-related education has emphasized his goal to increase civic engagement among youth.

Matthew Smith 
South MountainHigh School
Program: We the People
Maricopa County

Mr. Smith is continually utilizing law-related education with his students. His unwavering commitment to the Foundation’s Mock Trial program is displayed in his classes’ consistent high placings in regional and state level tournaments. Currently he is working toward establishing the Foundation’s We the People program in order to allow staff and students to learn about the law. Additionally, he is the instructional leader for his school’s law-related studies, through which the school offers opportunities to engage with the law. Mr. Smith’s efforts are recognized and appreciated by his school.

Daniel Young 
The Gregory School
Program: Mock Trial
Pima County

Mr. Young has been actively involved in the Foundation’s Mock Trial program for the past 10 years. His leadership has allowed his teams to achieve top rankings regularly each year. He engages with several Tucson attorneys to help assist his students in preparing for competitions. His strong support for the Mock Trial program has caused students to become more active, participatory citizens.

2017 awardees

Warren Burda 
Sunnyside High School
Program: We the PeopleProject Citizen, Student Congress 
Pima County


Dr. Mary Ellen Halvorson 
Tri-City College Prep High School
Program: Mock Trial, CSI, Project Citizen, and Kids Voting 
Yavapai County

Melinda Newman
Pan-American Charter School
Program: We the People
Maricopa County

Mandy Wright
Gilbert Classical Academy
Program:We the People
Maricopa County


2016 Awardees

Officer Nathan Goetz
Santa Maria Middle School
Program: School Safety Program 
Maricopa County

Janice Koenig 
Dysart High School
Program: Mock TrialTeen Court
Maricopa County

Brenda Lee 
Prescott High School
Program: Mock TrialTeen CourtWe the People 
Yavapai County

Erika Sparlin 
Coronado K-8 School
Program: ICIVICS 
Pima County

2015 Awardees

Shari Anton
Shadow Mountain High School
Program: CSI

Anna Van Zile 
Payson High School
Program: Mock Trial

Norma Jean M Higuera-Trask 
Challenger Middle School
Program: We the People

Jenifer Meadows
Walker Butte K-8
Program: ICIVICS

2014 Awardees

Becky Fitch Franklin Phonetic Primary School

Heather Matchett Lineweaver Elementary

Michael Dillon Metro Tech High School

Ofc. Matt Blech Bogle Junior High School

2013 Awardees

Ellyssa Eiring Copper Basin

Dawn Burstyn-Meyers Salt River Elementary

Wiley Popovich Smith Junior High

Justina Powell Thunderbolt Middle School

2012 Awardees

Bill Young - Mohave County Probation Department

Officer John Talley - Alhambra High School

Amy Price - Sonoran Heights Middle School

Terry Green - Blue Ridge High School

2011 Awardees

Officer Shawn Benjamin - Canyon Del Oro High School

Jill Benza - Skyline High School

Jaime Festa-Daigle - Lake Havasu High School

Eric Miller - Joseph City Junior and Senior High School

2010 Awardees

Elaine Potes - Centennial Middle School - Yuma 

Felipe Navarro - Somerton Middle School - Somerton 

Natalio Sabal - Douglas High School - Douglas 

David Nach - Mountain Pointe High School - Phoenix 

2009 Awardees

Marc Crowley - Jess Schwartz College Prep - Phoenix 

Mark Goligoski - Prescott High School  - Prescott

Nona Hanson - Benson Middle School - Benson 

Charlene Roll - South Mountain High School - Phoenix 

2008 Awardees

George Colebrook - Landmark Middle School - Glendale

Lisa Flores - Cactus Middle School - Casa Grande

John Cosden - Xavier High School - Phoenix

Patrick McAndrew - University High School - Tucson

2007 Awardees

Jim Maner - Capps Middle School - Heber

Jim Norman - Hamilton High School - Chandler

2006 Awardees

John Nitka - Palo Verde Magnet High School - Tucson
Rich Curtin - Palo Verde Middle School - Phoenix

2005 Awardees

Cheri Bludau- Tucson Unified School District - Tucson
Duane Phifer - Desert Sands Middle School - Phoenix
John Halverson - Desert Sands Middle School - Phoenix

2004 Awardees

Charlene Roll - South Mountain High School - Phoenix
Lisa Adams - Corona del Sol High School - Tempe
Lori Rodriguez - East Globe School - Globe
Phyllis Wolfskill/Cindy Pickett - Sinagua High School - Flagstaff

2003 Awardees

Patricia Downing - Crane Middle School, Yuma
Abby Dupke -  Dobson High School, Mesa
Dave Franquero -  Globe High School, Globe
Tim Smith -  Corona del Sol High School, Tempe

2002 Awardees

Cathy Currier - Sahuaro High School (Tucson)
Michael Spears - Hamilton High School (Chandler)

2001 Awardees

Darla Johnson - Bradshaw Mountain High School
Arlie Hunt Anderson - Junior High School, Chandler
Robin Andre, Shelly Baker and Georgia Davidson  - Mile High Middle School, Yavapai County

2000 Awardees

Tammy Waller - Mountain Ridge High School, Glendale

1999 Awardees

Julie McCall - Madison #1 Middle School, Phoenix
Nancy Haas - ASU West, Phoenix
Kathy Williams - Dobson High School, Mesa
Sarah Cromer - South Beaver Elementary, Flagstaff

1998 Awardees

Jody Arnold - Liberty Elementary School, Buckeye
Judy Cox - Thornydale Elementary School, Tucson
Marilyn Easton - Thornydale Elementary School, Tucson
Elnora Johnson - Blue Ridge School District, Lakeside
Janet Thor - Centennial Middle School, Phoenix

1997 Awardees

Katheryn Hedges - Deer Valley High School, Phoenix
Betsyann Wilson - Thornydale Elementary School, Tucson

1996 Awardees

Connie R. Boulton - Wilson Primary School, Phoenix

1995 Awardees

William Graham - Tempe High School, Tempe
W. Dorrean Walker - Prescott High School, Prescott

1994 Awardees

Mildred (dede) Havens - Buena High School, Sierra Vista
Mary Jo Hilpert - South Mountain High School, Phoenix
Mary Platt - St John's High School, St. Johns
George Thomson - Nogales High School, Nogales

1993 Awardees

Norma Jean Coulter - Madison #1 School, Phoenix
Paula Olson - Esperanza School, Tucson

1992 Awardees

Darlene Speaker - Creighton Middle School, Phoenix
Lorene Ely - South Mountain High School, Phoenix
Ron Trent - Amphitheater High School, Tucson
Elnora Johnson - Blue Ridge Junior High School, Lakeside

1991 Awardees

Tom Foster - Mountain View High School, Mesa
Kathy Hedges - Deer Valley High School, Phoenix
Winifred McAter - Flowing Wells High School, Tucson
George Thomson - Nogales High School, Nogales

1990 Awardees

Richard C. Brown - South Mountain High School, Phoenix
Augie Zito - Paradise Valley High School, Phoenix
Towne Bishop - Rincon High School, Tucson
John Yanez - Miami High School, Miami


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