A Tucson Unified School District elementary school teacher was named a finalist for the Arizona Educational Foundation's Teacher of the Year award.

Becky Cavazos is one of 10 teachers from around the state who were named finalists for the annual award, according to a Tucson Unified School District news release.

Cavazos teaches fourth grade at Borton Primary Magnet School, 700 E. 22nd St.

She has been teaching in the district since 1986. Cavazos also was a student in TUSD from elementary to high school.

"I was shocked," Cavazos said in a written statement. "It's gratifying because this is a state recognition. There are lots of other people giving themselves every day, and I'm honored to represent them."

Borton Principal Katrina Smits said Cavazos "believes in public education and works with humility and tenacity in her care of students."

The Arizona Educational Foundation looks for teachers who have "gained respect and admiration of students, parents and co-workers. They play an active and useful role in their communities as well as their schools, often distinguishing themselves as leaders," according to its website.

Cavazos had to submit a DVD of her teaching a class as well as long-form responses about her community involvement, philosophy of teaching, issues and trends in education, as well as her thoughts on the teaching profession.

She will travel to Phoenix this week for interviews with a panel of judges that will then decide on five semifinalists for the Teacher of the Year award. A winner is named in November.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4115.