Dune Garrison Membership Card

George’s Dune Sea Garrison membership card.

THIS MONTH'S WINNER: Tom George (aka TK-21497)

NOMINATED BY: IMS Administrator, Jeannine Ruetz

After 15 years in the Scottsdale School District, Tom George has learned more than one way to make a connection with his students. As a middle school teacher with two middle school sons at home, George knows that you need to bring a strategy, and be willing to adapt it to make it work. 

This 7th grade science teacher’s connection to his students is one thing, but he’s also made a name for himself with his peers at Ingleside Middle School. Jeannine Ruetz is the Support Coordinator on the Administrative Team. Ruetz nominated George for the Teacher We Love award because “he makes a difference in our school not only for our students but for his fellow teachers and the staff. He deserves to be recognized for everything that he does.”

One of George’s strategies includes dressing up in his Stormtrooper costume, to help promote the national Star Wars Reads Campaign, put on each fall by book publishers. George encourages the students to play along and join him in dressing up for the day. Whatever it takes to help create a fun environment and stimulate a hunger for learning.

“I saved up for a year for that costume,” said George, “And I put it together with the guys from my group.”

The ‘group’ is a unique volunteer organization called the Dune Sea Garrison of the 501st Legion. The Legion is a global collective of super-costumed Star Wars fans who proclaim to be “Bad Guys Doing Good.” They promote interest in Star Wars by bringing the fictional characters to life with their quality costumes, and they give back by fundraising, volunteerism and making appearances at events or places like Phoenix Children’s Hospital.  

“I’m not an insane fan. I don’t have all the lines memorized,” said George, “But I do enjoy it and this is a great way to give back.”

After all of his years teaching, George hears back from students now and then, mostly via Facebook. He still feels connected to them too, understanding that he was a strong influence on their lives.

“I think I’ve got seven former students who are now teachers,” said George. “I get a lot of former students who get in touch and thank me and tell me I was their favorite teacher. It just hits your heart.”

Most of the nominations for the Arcadia News Teachers We Love award come from students and parents, but a submission from fellow teachers or staff is unique. 

“I was a bit shocked,” said George, “This is my second year here and I really didn’t expect this.”