April 28, 2020

AFA National Teacher of the Year and STEM Educator Named Einstein Fellow

Arlington, Va., – The Air Force Association’s 2019 National Teacher of the Year Michael Vargas of Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Arizona, has been named a 2020-2021 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow.

Vargas will join 14 other K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers selected from across the U.S. to spend 11 months serving in a federal agency or Congressional office in Washington, D.C., engaged in national STEM education policy. Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowships (AEF) enable accomplished K-12 STEM educators to apply their extensive classroom knowledge and experience to inform Federal STEM education policy.

Vargas will serve at the Defense Manufacturing Technology Program Office, where he will focus on bringing STEM education to the forefront of the national conversation.

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen for this opportunity,” Vargas said. “The Air Force Association has helped me so much since last year. I have learned a great deal, and I look forward to what the next 11 months have in store. Being AFA's national aerospace education ambassador has given me the platform, and the confidence, to apply my message of ‘STEM for All’ on a much larger scale than I ever imagined. Thank you, everyone, for the constant encouragement and support. It means the world to me to be part of the AFA family.”

The 2020-2021 Einstein Fellows come from K-12 schools across the country and represent diverse teaching backgrounds—with expertise in science, engineering, computer science, and mathematics. Federal agencies and U.S. Congressional offices will benefit from Fellows’ real-world experiences as educators. In return, Einstein Fellows will gain an understanding of the role of the Federal Government in the U.S. education enterprise, knowledge of resources available to students and educators, and broader perspectives on national education issues that can be applied to the classroom or to leadership positions in their districts or elsewhere.

The 30-year-old AEF Program is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists in collaboration with the sponsoring agencies and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). Current sponsoring agencies of the AEF Program include DOE, the Library of Congress, the Department of Defense, the US Geological Survey, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In addition to sponsoring placements at DOE headquarters, DOE sponsors five placements in U.S. Congressional offices.

“Congratulations to Michael Vargas on his selection as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. Mike has made immense contributions to his students and to STEM education. Rolls-Royce is proud to support him as the AFA National Teacher of the Year, and we are thrilled to hear about his latest recognition,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson USAF (Ret.), Senior Vice President for Business Development for Rolls-Royce Defense.

Rolls-Royce's generous sponsorship of the AFA National Teacher of the Year program provides critical support to a program that dates back more than 25 years, the early 1990s when AFA first began recognizing classroom teachers (K-12) for their innovative and successful instructional programs.

To learn more about the AFA Teacher of the Year program or to apply, go to www.afa.org/education/teacher-of-the-year.