Log in

Executive Board

Dr. Robert Caplinger

Principal, Laveen Elementary School

Dr. Robert Caplinger serves as principal of Laveen Elementary School, named a 2022 A+ School of Excellence by the Arizona Educational Foundation, a 2022 National School of Distinction by the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE), and a 2020 Exemplary Title 1 School by the Arizona Department of Education. He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Oregon in 2013 in educational leadership. He also holds two master's degrees in education and school counseling. In 2005, Dr. Caplinger was recognized as the National Educator of the Year by AMLE. He has teaching, counseling, and administrative experience at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and is currently an Academic Associate at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Dr. Caplinger serves as the State Director of the Arizona Schools to Watch Program.

Kristi Pashley


Principal, Cheatham Elementary School

Kristi Pashley has over 24 years of experience as an educator and maintains a true passion for the middle grades. She has held various roles throughout her career, teaching grades 1-8 and serving as an instructional coach for six years before becoming a school administrator. Kristi is currently in her 13th year as a K-8 school principal. Under her leadership, she saw an accelerated magnet school excel academically and culturally. During her tenure as principal, the school was the first in the district to earn the distinction of "National Blue Ribbon School." In addition, she successfully opened a dual language immersion (DLI) school recognized and applauded as a model DLI school by the Governor of Arizona.

Cynthia Salinas

Math Teacher, Laveen Elementary School

Cynthia Salinas has been in education for 20 years. She started as an instructional assistant in a resource classroom and earned a bachelor's degree in Secondary Education from Ottawa University, Arizona. Cynthia then began teaching high school math in an inner city Title 1 school, where she earned two awards for student-led instruction. Cynthia is teaching 7th grade math in Laveen, AZ, and loves the energy and spirit of the middle grades. Her professional goals are to help students feel successful and comfortable taking risks in math.

Adrian Ruiz, Jr.
Communications Director

Faculty, Maricopa Community Colleges

Adrian Ruiz, Jr., a proud native of South Phoenix, Arizona, is an esteemed educator passionate about fostering learning. He holds an Associates Degree from South Mountain Community College (2011), a Bachelors in Education from Northern Arizona University (2015), and a Masters in Education (2018). Over the last decade, Adrian has dedicated himself to shaping young minds, teaching in both elementary and middle schools in Phoenix and Laveen. In addition, he has enriched the academic community by instructing college reading and education courses with Maricopa Community Colleges for the past five years. Adrian's diverse expertise extends beyond the classroom, as he finds joy in reading, writing, and cooking during his leisure time.

Kyle Jordaan
Student Representative

Student, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University

Kyle Jordaan was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. Before enrolling at Arizona State University (ASU), Kyle played soccer for the South African National Soccer Team, and this is one of his most significant life accomplishments. Kyle looks forward to being a middle-level teacher and maintains a teaching philosophy grounded in the belief that education extends beyond the classroom. He is dedicated to equipping students with the knowledge needed for academic success and the critical thinking and problem-solving skills essential for their future endeavors. Kyle recognizes each student's unique strengths and learning styles, tailoring his approach to meet their individual needs. His major at ASU is Secondary Education (BAE), with an emphasis in History.

Kat Pastor
Business Partner Representative

Exec Director of School Supports, Character Strong

Kat is the Executive Director of School Supports for CharacterStrong. Kat has passionately served as a student and educator advocate for over 20 years as a coach, student council advisor, school counselor at the secondary level, financial aid counselor/coordinator of student employment, and adjunct professor at the post-secondary level. Through Kat's leadership, her school counseling department received state and national recognition, including the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) RAMP recognition in 2020. Kat has facilitated professional development with various state and national associations and individual schools and districts. Kat exudes a commitment to community, having served on numerous local, state, and national associations, boards, and committees. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, a Masters in Education in Student Affairs and School Counseling from Northern Arizona University. Kat was named the ASCA 2016 National School Counselor of the Year and Northern Arizona University's President's Alumni Awardee in 2021.

Christina Lucas-Sheffield
Region 1 Director (Maricopa County, East)

Principal, Chandler Traditional Academy, Freedom

Christina Lucas-Sheffield is a native of Chicago and resides in the East Valley with her husband, two young boys, and dog. She earned her bachelor's degree in Humanities Pre-Law and Women's Studies from Michigan State University. She came to Phoenix as a Teach for America Corps Member, where she taught 3rd graders and middle schoolers. During this time, she obtained two master's degrees from Arizona State University, one in elementary education and the other in educational leadership. She has over a decade of experience in education and currently serves as the principal of CTA Freedom Elementary in the Chandler Unified School District. She is passionate about ensuring all students are provided with an outstanding educational experience and is pleased to work towards achieving this goal.

Ashley Grant
Region 2 Director (Maricopa County, West)

Principal, Trailside Point Performing Arts Academy

Ashley Grant serves as the principal of Trailside Point Performing Arts Academy. Throughout her 14-year educational journey, Ms. Grant has been named a 2021 Pinnacle of Leadership award recipient by the Laveen School District, a 2015 Rodel Aspiring Principal, and a 2010 Rodel Promising Student Teacher by the Arizona Rodel Foundation. She earned her master's degree from Grand Canyon University in educational leadership and her bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona in elementary education. Ms. Grant has teaching and administrative experience at the elementary and middle school levels. She is recognized as an AzPBIS-qualified evaluator for Arizona State schools and a 2021 BET-C presenter. Ms. Grant is forever dedicated to every child's academic excellence and equity by fostering inclusive spaces that promote diverse curriculum and instruction.

Stephanie Sander
Region 3 Director (Gila and Pinal Counties)

Principal, Villago Middle School

Stephanie Sander started her career as a special education teacher in the Casa Grande Elementary School District in 2004. Ms. Sander has had various educational experiences in elementary, middle, and high school general education, as well as special education. Ms. Sander spent four years as an Assistant Principal. She is in her first year as Principal at Villago Middle School. She aspires to be a Special Education Director one day. Ms. Sander earned her bachelor's in elementary and special education from Northern Arizona University, a Master's in mental health counseling from Argosy, and her Master's in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.

Rusty Tyndall
Region 4 Director (Mohave, La Paz, and Yuma Counties)

Director of Partnerships, Southwest Technical Education District of Yuma

Russell "Rusty" Tyndall holds a B.A. in Secondary Education from Arizona State University (1976) and an M.A. in Education from Northern Arizona University (1983). With a rich history in education, Rusty served as a teacher at R. Pete Woodard Jr. High School (1977-1991), Asst. Principal at Woodard (1991-1996) and later as Principal at Gila Vista Jr. High School (1996-2015). Currently, he is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Southwest Technical Education District of Yuma. Rusty's key strengths lie in leadership, problem-solving, and building strong interpersonal relationships.

Theresa Fuller
Region 5 Director (Coconino, Yavapai, Navajo and Apache Counties)

Assistant Clinical Professor, STEM, Northern Arizona University

With 13 years of expertise in middle and high school math and six years in higher education, Theresa contributes significantly to the realm of education. Presently, they are an Assistant Clinical Professor in the NAUTeach program at Northern Arizona University, where they prepare secondary mathematics and science teachers. Theresa's impact extends to professional development, where they offer training in mathematics for K-12 in-service teachers. Having taught across diverse regions, including Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, and Tennessee, their experience reflects adaptability and a broad perspective. Theresa also holds the distinction of being a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescence Mathematics.

Dr. Thad Dugan
Region 6 Director (Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham and Greenlee Counties)

Principal, Apollo Middle School 

Thad Dugan is an accomplished educational leader with a rich background in transformative leadership, policy development, and school turnaround. Holding a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership/Policy from the University of Arizona, Thad has contributed significantly to the field through publications and his work as a dynamic educator. Dr. Dugan has taught graduate courses, mentored students, and presented research nationally and internationally. Thad's commitment to community engagement is evident through his roles on various committees and boards. With a proven track record as a middle school principal, he brings a wealth of experience to drive educational excellence and equity.

Dr. Abby Brown
Member at Large

Assistant Professor, MLF Teachers College,
Arizona State University

Dr. Abby Brown is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Division Director for Undergraduate Pathways for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. In this position, she teaches undergraduate courses, oversees all faculty staffing, mentors new faculty, participates in curriculum development, and collaborates on school district partnerships, allowing her to work broadly across the teacher preparation space. She has nearly 20 years of experience in education at the elementary, middle school, and higher education levels and has degrees in elementary and middle-level education and interdisciplinary leadership.

Dr. Paul Danuser
Member at Large

Associate Professor, Education, Grand Canyon University

Dr. Paul Danuser is in his 12th year of teaching preservice teacher candidates at Grand Canyon University's College of Education. Before his time at GCU, Dr. Danuser also served as adjunct faculty and Campus College Chair for the University of Phoenix's College of Education and the Director of Academic Affairs at the Phoenix Campus. Before his time in higher education, Dr. Danuser was a high school English teacher at various Christian and public schools in Wisconsin, Washington, California, and Arizona. Danuser combines his love of preparing the next generation of teachers with his own sets of experiences from his 42 combined years in the classrooms, ranging from the K-12 system to working with students at the masters and doctoral learners. Since earning his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration, Dr. Danuser has turned his focus on helping other doctoral candidates earn their terminal degrees by serving as the dissertation chair for six learners. Dr. Danuser is a lifelong learner and educator, and he is excited to add this experience to his resume.

Dr. Meg Cota
Member at Large

Assistant Professor, Educational Policy & Practice, University of Arizona

Dr. Hortensia "Meg" Cota is a Professor of Practice at the University of Arizona's College of Education. She plays a pivotal role in her department as a teaching faculty member and Director of the Master of Educational Leadership degree and administrative certification preparation programs for school principals and superintendents. With over two decades of experience in K-12 public education, Dr. Cota's career spans from teaching and serving as an administrator in Tucson-area public schools to a statewide role as a program specialist at the Arizona Department of Education. She is committed to improving educational outcomes for students and preparing future leaders for the dynamic landscapes of education.

Dr. Donelle Ruwe
Member at Large

Associate Dean, College of Education, Northern Arizona University

Donelle Ruwe, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean of the College of Education and Professional Education Programs at Northern Arizona University. She is a Full Professor and former Chair of English, and she has published several books and edited collections on early British children's literature and childhood and musical theater. She is a former co-president of the British Women Writers Association and the former co-chair of the 18th- and 19th-Century British Women Writers Association. Dr. Ruwe has served as the chair of the Children's Literature Association Committee to Award the Best Annual Scholarly Edited Collection and as a committee member to award the Annual Lion & the Unicorn Prize for American Children's Poetry.

Dr. Shannon Guerrero
Member at Large

Professor, Mathematics, Northern Arizona University

Shannon Guerrero is a Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Northern Arizona University. She is a President's Distinguished Teaching Fellow, the Associate Chair in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and the co-director of the NAUTeach mathematics and science secondary preservice program at NAU. She is a recognized leader in applying research-based approaches to teaching and learning mathematics and has received more than $5.5 million in state and federal grants to support her work. Her research interests include K-12 preservice/in-service professional development, supporting undergraduate student success in mathematics, and the process of teacher change.

Not an AzAMLE

Join Now!

Thank you to Mountain America Credit Union for being a proud AzAMLE business partner and supporter of middle-level education in Arizona!

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software