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Phoenix ESL teacher wins Mac & Gaydos Pay Tribute to a Teacher

PHOENIX — A Phoenix teacher was this month’s honoree of Mac & Gaydos’ Pay Tribute to a Teacher, a program that rewards our city’s hardest-working and best educators.

Samantha Panco, who teaches first grade at James W. Rice Primary School near Camelback Road and 43rd Avenue, was chosen because of her work helping her students — most of whom speak English as a second language — learn to read.

Academic Coach Michelle Talbot, the person who nominated Panco, said her colleague often teaches students who have just arrived in the United States.

Talbot also said Panco routinely has her materials ready and teaches fun courses that engage children, in addition to meeting meeting with other teachers and supporting their needs.

“She is a valuable asset to her team and has not received the recognition she deserves,” Talbot wrote.

Panco has also recently become a foster parent.

When presented with her check with $1,000, Panco’s mind went to her students first.

“I’m going to buy them something because I’m not a great teacher without them,” she said. “… They work hard every day to become successful readers.”

Panco then said she may buy herself some new clothes, in addition to supplies for her classroom.

Editor’s note: To nominate a teacher having an impact on your or your children’s lives, text the word “teacher” to 411923.

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