Two Tucson-area educators are up for the 2013 Arizona Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year award. 

Dayna Burke, a first grade teacher at Sahuarita Primary School, and Tabetha Finchum, a fourth grade teacher at Centennial Elementary School, are two of five finalists for the honor, which spotlights the contributions of Arizona public school teachers. 

The finalists, also known as "Ambassadors for Excellence," will serve as spokespersons for their profession, advocating for excellence in the classroom by making presentations statewide to education, civic, government and professional organizations.

Each ambassador will receive a $5,000 cash award, professional speech training and a scholarship from Argosy University for 50 percent of the cost of tuition toward a master’s or doctorate in education and more.

The educator who takes the top honor of Arizona Teacher of the Year, will receive a $15,000 cash award, the opportunity to meet the President of the United States, a trip to space camp in Huntsville, Ala., professional speech training, $7,000-plus in equipment from SMART Technologies, and a chance to compete for the title of National Teacher of the Year. 

Two other Tucson-area teachers, Robert Becker of Flowing Wells High School and Mike Schmidt of University High School, were named semi-finalists. 

The Arizona Educational Foundation promotes and awards the exceptional efforts being made in Arizona’s public schools. 

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

Education writer for #ThisIsTucson. Mom of one.