Kindergarten teacher Tami Cubillas and 4th grade teacher Angela Brown are recognized for their contributions to the Elgin School at the Community Open House on May 6. Photo by Megan Thomas

Two teachers who have made a difference in the lives of their students over the years are leaving the Elgin School. Tami Cubillas and Angela Brown will both be missed by the students and fellow educators.

Tami Cubillas

Although her childhood career choice was to be a ‘cowboy,’ Elgin Elementary kindergarten teacher, Tami Cubillas found her passion as a teacher.

A native of California, Cubillas was discouraged from ‘cowboying’ as a life choice after graduating from high school and worked in drafting for an architectural firm who designed skyscrapers, as well as other structures, for the city of San Diego. 

Working inside an office began to wear on her, so she moved on to help her mother at her preschool daycare center. She worked horses on the side for extra money. At 25, Cubillas became the manager of the family restaurant. There, she met her future husband Rudy, a Border Patrol agent and fellow horseman as well as a rodeo enthusiast.

After marriage, her husband was transferred to New Mexico where they started a family. Cubillas became active with the Girl Scouts and 4-H as a leader and mentor. 

While living in New Mexico, competing in rodeos took them to Arizona and on one of those trips, Rudy took Tami through the Elgin/Sonoita area. That was when she first saw, and fell in love with, the Sky Islands. After Rudy’s retirement in 2004, they settled in Sonoita.

Cubillas started at the Elgin School as a para-professional and then taught in the computer lab. From there she managed the school library while getting her business administration degree online through the University of Phoenix. She then finished her master’s degree in early childhood education at Grand Canyon University. She became an emergency substitute teacher and finally a full-time kindergarten teacher. 

Cubillas is retiring after 18 years of teaching. Missing the children will be the hardest part of leaving the Elgin School. When asked what pursuing a career in teaching requires, she said that you must “make sure kids are your passion. Nothing else matters if you want a career in teaching”. She also stressed that ”If you don’t have the base of a pyramid, you can’t build on your educational journey.”

Angela Brown

“Some of the best time of my life was spent teaching at the Elgin School,” said educator Angela Brown. Fighting cancer for the past five years caused her career to come to a halt in 2021 while she continues treatment, but the mother of two boys is grateful for her years in Elgin.

Getting her BS at the U of A, then a Masters at Grand Canyon University, Brown first considered a career as an environmental engineer. However, circumstances dictated another path, and she is grateful for that directional change. 

Spending her first eight years teaching in Huachuca City, she then became Elgin School’s fourth grade teacher and for another seven years she found joy in her students, the staff and the community. 

Upon the discovery of her disease, Brown was overwhelmed by the support of those around her asking, “What can we do? How can we help?”

Now putting her career on hold to concentrate on healing, Angela Brown finds comfort in the love and support of the community and prefers to call her absence from the classroom a sabbatical rather than retirement. School superintendent, Mary Faley assures her that there will always be a place for her at the Elgin School. Their motto is, “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle” and Brown is hoping that a return to the Elgin School classroom is in her future.