STEM teachers shape the future of our nation - introducing students to exciting new concepts and offering a glimpse into what's possible. The very best educators transform learning into a boundless adventure and prepare their classes to explore new frontiers of technology for the good of us all. Along with grants and scholarships, the Air Force Association believes that recognizing those who educate America's youth is an important aspect of what AFA is all about. Every year, AFA's Teacher of the Year program sponsored by Rolls-Royce proudly honors the commitment and achievements of these extraordinary teachers

AFA's 2020 National Teacher of the Year is Rachael Arens from Omaha Northwest High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Nominated by the Ak-Sar-Ben Chapter, she has taught 9-12th grade AP Environmental Science, Chemistry, Anatomy/Physiology, Biology, and Advanced Horticulture. A lifelong learner, Arens earned a Master's degree in Biology, a graduate secondary teaching certificate, and is now a doctoral candidate in STEM education. She has also held numerous STEM education leadership roles, serving on two state science education boards, serving as a state advisor to the National Geographic Education Society, and developing Nebraska standards and district-wide curriculum for science courses. This year, she was named an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, and will work at NASA in the fall. Rachael is one of many exceptional teachers AFA recognizes annually.

Hear from 2019 TOY Michael Vargas on how this award has affected his life and career

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2014 Teacher of the Year now Space Center University Director at Space Center Houston


The National Teacher of the Year award is presented to a dedicated K-12 educator and AFA State Teacher of the Year winner. This honor recognizes STEM educators for their outstanding classroom performance, collaborative initiatives, educational outreach, leadership, and significant impact in the school and community.

Guidelines Criteria

To be eligible the candidate must be submitted by their respective AFA State leaders. The candidate must be a former AFA State Teacher of the Year selected during the most recent past two years. Applications must be submitted by the deadline of June 30.            

National Teacher of the Year Full Guidelines

Suggestions for National Teacher of the Year Nomination Packages


The State Teacher of the Year award honors exemplary K-12 educators and Chapter Teacher of the Year winners at the AFA State level who make a profound difference in the lives of their students and in their community.

Guidelines and Criteria

To be eligible the AFA State candidate must be a current AFA Chapter Teacher of Year. The deadline for nomination submissions is April 30.

State Teacher of the Year Full Guidelines


Local AFA chapters select one Teacher of the Year for this award, which salutes those classroom educators who steer their students toward greatness in STEM fields. 

Guidelines and Criteria

Chapters may select one ToY from any grade level (K-12) for submission to AFA National to receive award components. If the chapter wishes to recognize more than one Chapter ToYs, they may do so but would need to contact AFA National to purchase additional Chapter ToY award components. The deadline for nomination submission is April 30.

Chapter Teacher of the Year Full Guidelines