AFA’s Teacher of the Year Program

STEM teachers shape the future of our nation by introducing students to exciting new concepts and offering a glimpse into what’s possible. Along with grants and scholarships, the Air & Space Forces 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 Teacher of the Year Program is proudly sponsored by

2023 National Teacher of the Year

Bill McInnish

Bill McInnish is a 9th-12th grade CTE instructor of Aviation Fabrication and Assembly Technician and Private Pilot Ground School classes at Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Fla. He was nominated by AFA’s Florida Space Coast Chapter #309. 

McInnish has taught at Eau Gallie High School since 2015 where he established the Aviation Fabrication and Assembly program, the first program of its kind in the nation. By providing hands-on engineering experience with real planes, the program awards high school students with National Aerospace/Aircraft Assembly certifications, enabling them to find work as entry-level aircraft technicians right out of high school.

Second Place: Ty White

David Tyrel “Ty” White teaches high school chemistry and science at Wilcox High School in Wilcox, Ariz. Nominated for Teacher of the Year by AFA’s Arizona Cochise Chapter #107, White’s passion lies in bringing STEM experiences to rural schools.

Third Place: Colleen Cain

Colleen Cain is a 7th grade science teacher at Larson Middle School in Troy, Mich. She was nominated by AFA’s Michigan Mt. Clemens “Selfridge” Chapter #179 and has been inspiring students with STEM for 18 years as a National Geographic Certified Teacher. 


Nominate a Teacher of the Year

Mary Anne Thompson – Susan Mallett National Teacher of the Year

The Thompson-Mallett 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.

The Thompson-Mallett National Teacher of the Year will receive a $3,000 award, a plaque, and gold pin. First and second runners-up receive $2,000 and $1,000.

Guidelines and Criteria

Candidates 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.

The deadline for nominations is June 30.


AFA State Teacher of the Year

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.

State Teachers of the Year will receive $500, an AFA jacket, a certificate, and a pin.

Guidelines and Criteria

To be eligible the AFA State candidate must be a current AFA Chapter Teacher of Year.

The deadline for submissions is April 30.


AFA Chapter Teacher of the Year

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.

Chapter Teachers of the Year receive $250, a certificate, padfolio, window decal, pin, and complimentary Civil Air Patrol membership.

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 submissions is April 30.