One In A Million: November 2023: Liana Phoenix


Name: Liana Phoenix 

School & District: Thew, Tempe elementary

Grade(s) you teach: 5th

How many students in your class(es) this academic year? 24

How long have you been a teacher? 2 years (in education 10 years)

What made you get into the teaching profession? Desire to make a positive impact.

Who was your most inspirational teacher & why? Ronald Skon. Built relationships in a really hard time.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?  Workload, after-hours expectations, behaviors, lack of Support.

How do these issues affect your day-to-day? affect on work/life balance, affect on health.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?  Have necessary materials to aide in students learning.. 

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different from reality? Less balance, more Stress

Why do you think, teachers burn out so quickly? After-hours expectations, Workload, pay, behaviors, and lack of support.

Do you typically feel appreciated or recognized as a teacher? Not till now.

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty? Rest, Family time, time awayl

What are some of the most thoughtful & effective ways parents & the community can show gratitude?

Be understanding & available, Donate Supplies, working on more Support for the Community.

What is your wish for Arizona’s children? To become happy functional adults.

What additional support or supplies do you need in your classroom & who do people contact if they want to help out?

Thew front office. Binders, pencils, art Supplies.

What types of items/prizes are meaningful to you to win/be gifted? Money, gift cards, food, activities


What is/are your FAVORITE…

– Color? Pink, Blue, Green, yellow

– Food/restaurant? Cafe zupas, Dr. pepper, tea, Chips

– Music/group/artist? Stevie Nicks, Kendrick Lamar, Hosier

– Sport/athletics team? Don’t like Sports.

– Pastime/hobby? Crafting, yard saleing

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Growing the Tree

Million Dollar Teacher Tree was first developed in a classroom by students in a program called, Next Generation Service Corps at Arizona State University in December of 2017. These students were tasked by Lloyd Hopkins, founder of Million Dollar Teacher project with developing a project that can potentially become an integral part in helping MDTP achieve its mission. The group eventually developed the original prototype for Million Dollar Teacher Tree—a cutout dollar sign that would be placed in surrounding businesses near the partner school. The idea was pitched to staff members of MDTP during the last of their class, and the project was picked up by MDTP as a new pilot program for the organization. After many months of planning, the prototype was eventually revamped into what it is today, Million Dollar Teacher Tree.

Golden Apple

These apples are intended to provide any sort of Professional Development which, in turn, gifts them with key knowledge to add to their personal skill-set to better work with their students.

As educators, teachers are constantly looking to continually grow in their profession to not only learn how to better connect with their students, but to also make the learning experience much more exciting.

Suggested donation amount range: $10 – $100

Red Apple

These apples are designed to provide the typical day-to-day items in the classroom. Teachers spend can spend upwards of $1,000 out of pocket to have enough supplies yearlong for their students– to alleviate this, the Red Apples were created.

Everyday school supplies include; pencils, notebooks, crayons, hand sanitizer, etc.

Green Apple

These apples are intended to provide a big-ticket item for the teachers. These supplies are typically something that the teachers can use for more than one school year.

Examples include; a class-set of computers or new furniture for the classroom.

Suggested donation amount: $500+