Though Thanksgiving was technically celebrated on November 25, for 400 teachers across Arizona – including more than 25 from across the North Valley – it came early this year.

During the first days of November, in what has become an annual tradition to honor, support and celebrate Arizona’s teachers, the Fiesta Bowl Organization was proud to award $1 million to teachers through the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program.

Through a three-day Virtual Draft Day presented by Salt River Project (SRP), 400 teachers from K-12 schools were each given $2,500 to grant a wish in their classrooms. The winners were chosen based on a program in the fall wherein any Arizona K-12 teacher was able to fill out an online application detailing a school or classroom need. The wishes were then verified and selected by random drawing for teachers to receive a grant. Over the six years of the program, Fiesta Bowl Wishes for Teachers has granted $4.7 total million to more than 1,200 Arizona teachers, impacting more than 500,000 children across the state.

“I love Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Draft Day presented by SRP, it is so exciting when we call each teacher to let them know their name was selected as a grant recipient,” says Patrick Barkley, chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors. “Wishes for Teachers is well-known around the state as the preeminent program for teacher support. My mom was a teacher, and we all know teachers who inspire us with their selfless work.”

This year, the 400 teachers represent 300 schools in 63 cities across the state, teaching more than 200,000 students in 84 districts over 75 subjects, from social studies to special education, literature to leadership, music to math. Locally, Liz Keith, a kindergarten teacher at Norterra Canyon Elementary School had a wish granted. With her grant, she will purchase supplies for hands-on learning for students to develop their motor skills.

“Teachers are our unsung heroes, who give so much to our students in helping them become tomorrow’s leaders. Giving them a spotlight for their selfless work and supporting them with extra resources is an important part of the Fiesta Bowl’s commitment to our community,” says Mike Nealy, Fiesta Bowl Executive Director. “Thanks to our partners Desert Financial and SRP, Wishes for Teachers help rewards Arizona’s teachers and gives them a step forward.”

For more information, or for a full list of granted wishes, visit