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

2021 awardees

Bonnie Hickman
Patterson Elementary
Program: We the People, Project CitizenKids Voting Arizona
Maricopa County

Ms. Hickman believes in empowering her students to understand their rights and responsibilities as active citizens. Her students were involved in promoting traffic light safety to other students and their community.  They investigated regulations around electric scooters for Project Citizen to find out what laws were currently in place and what laws needed to be passed. Bonnie Hickman also had her students attend a distracted driving event at State Capitol and meet with lawmakers. One lawmaker sponsoring bill on scooter regulations stated he was inspired and informed by the students’ research. Her students participated in the We the People state Showcase, Kids Voting Arizona (which she coordinated for her entire school) and she had students interview veterans and submitted their stories to the Library of Congress for its Veterans History Project.

Jill Maner
Capps Middle School
Program: We the People, & Kids Voting Arizona
Navajo County

Ms. Maner has been a stronger supporter of the We the People program.  She uses the We the People curriculum in her 6th grade history class and brings students to participate in the We the People Showcase each year.  One of her students stated that participating in We the People : “helped me gain confidence in my public speaking and I learned so much from the judges.”

 Jennifer Roberts
Empire High School
Program: Mock Trial
Pima County

Ms. Roberts saw the importance of bringing the Mock Trial program to her school, so she worked over the summer with another Mock Trial teacher to learn the program and how to implement it in her own classroom.  When it became difficult for students to participate, she then lobbied her administration to make Mock Trial an official class.  Her administration approved the elective! In 2020, her second year running the program, she took three teams to regionals and one took 3rd place!

Shannon Sweat
Desert Edge High School
Program: We the PeopleProject CitizenICivics & Kids Voting Arizona
Maricopa County

Ms. Sweat deeply engaged in law related education programs and their impact.  She has taken teams to the We the People state championship for the last two years.  Shannon has incorporated ICivics into her classroom and took three teams to the Ecivics competition. Ms. Sweat has also included Project Citizen in her curriculum and had students showcase in her class. For the 2020 election, she coordinated with the Foundation staff to bring Kids Voting to her school.  

Her involvement goes beyond her classroom.  She judges at both the We the People and Project Citizen Summer Institutes, has coached We the People and Mock Trial at past schools, and is a We the People Regional Coordinator, mentor and faculty!

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


Joshua Guidote
Cibola High School
Program: Mock Trial
Yuma County

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

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


2018 awardees

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

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

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

Daniel Young 
The Gregory School
Program: Mock Trial
Pima County


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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