Kareem Neal

Education Leader

Kareem Neal is a self-contained special education teacher in Phoenix, AZ. He has taught students with cognitive delays for 24 years. He is the 2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year and is a 2022 inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. He is on the board of directors for The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University for his contributions to special education in Arizona. He is a 2019-2021 Understood Teacher Fellow. And he helped pilot the National Network of State Teachers of the Year Mentorship program. Kareem’s passion is connecting all students in schools, springing from his awareness that students with learning differences did not truly feel like members of their school communities. This led him to evaluate his own educational journey and how students in black communities often did not feel like education spaces were for them. He is now a restorative justice trainer for the Phoenix Union High School District. He focuses on building community by eliminating bias that comes from a lack of connection with people who are different from each other. This work has led him to win the Arizona Education Association’s Diversity Grant and be named vice president of the Phoenix Union High School District’s Black Alliance. Kareem’s academic journey was filled with adults who let him know that he was capable, which he attributes to being a lifetime learner. Too many students are not afforded that same opportunity, and Kareem is working tirelessly to change that.