Arizona Educational Foundation names 2024 Arizona Teacher of the Year

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The Arizona Educational Foundation named Efrain Casillas the 2024 Arizona Teacher of the Year. He is the Coordinator of Music Programs for the Tolleson Elementary School District.

Initially, there were 15 candidates for the award, which was then narrowed down to five finalists (known as Ambassadors of Excellence). All five finalists were present during a ceremony at the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix where Casillas was announced as the winner of the award.

Casillas has been a public school music teacher for 22 years and currently teaches general and instrumental music at Porfirio H. Gonzales and Desert Oasis elementary schools. He created the district’s first Mariachi, Jazz, marching, concert and Latin jazz bands.

Casillas helped lead the Tolleson Elementary School Mariachi band to success, leading them to victory at the Tucson Mariachi International Conference. His bands have also performed in the Disneyland and Fiesta Bowl parades.

The prize package for the Arizona Teacher of the Year includes $15,000 from the Arizona Educational Foundation and travel to National Teacher of the Year events, including a trip to the White House to meet President Biden and a weeklong trip to International Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Casillas will also be considered for an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University.

Efrain Casillas, 2024 Arizona Teacher of the Year

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