James Attebery



Courtesy Photo

Marana High School teacher lands teacher of the year nomination

James Attebery has become a fixture at Marana High School over the past 15 years, building a music program that’s woven into the community’s DNA. 

Attebery has been tasked with running the school’s band and music department since coming over from the Tucson Unified School District in 2002, where he taught for seven years. 

The Arizona native was attracted to Marana because of its smaller size and tight-knit community. 

“What drew me to the district was its sense of community, it’s a special place,” Attebery said. “And I know we’re growing, but it still has this—I want to say familiar feel to it. People know each other. There are community members who are invested in the school system. There’s a tremendous amount, still, of growth, but Marana really seems to embrace its traditions.” 

The NAU grad has done his fair share in building and maintaining those traditions, considering his ongoing effort in growing the school’s music program. 

Attebery’s dedication has earned him recognition as one of nine finalists for the Circle K Corporation “Outstanding High School Faculty Awards Program” finalists. 

The award, which recognizes teachers that exemplify preparation and experience, as well as leadership, participation in extracurricular activities involving students and innovation in teaching practices, is awarded at the University of Arizona Jim Click Hall of Champions on March 2. 

Attebery will be formally recognized as an award finalist at an Arizona men’s basketball game at McKale Center on Jan. 27. 

Marana High School Principal David Mandel believes that Attebery, regardless of whether he wins the award or not, is a fitting candidate for such recognition. 

“I think he stands a really good chance of being named the teacher of the year,” Mandel said. “It’s exciting to have someone recognized from our school because we have so many people here, from our school, that deserve recognition. And I can speak for him when I say that he proudly represents all the teachers here.” 

For Attebery, getting to introduce his students to the joy of music, and watching them grasp and share his love for the arts is what stands out most. 

He believes music perfectly complements the subjects his students take at MHS, including literature, math and science, providing a well-rounded educational experience. 

“You understand that kind of touch, that kind of feel, and kind of connection with the instrument,” he said. “And kind of augmenting what you do. So, it’s really special.” 

Attebery said he’s humbled by the recognition, deflecting praise in favor of commending his department and school as a whole. 

“It’s still kind of hard for me to wrap my head around it,” he said. “And here’s why it’s hard for me to comprehend it: I work with a bunch of extraordinary teachers. So, I kind of liken it to being in a forest full of tall, strong trees, and I just happened to get struck by lightning.” 

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