Michael Vargas

Michael Vargas

Fellowship Placement: U.S. Department of Defense
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Michael Vargas has been teaching for 19 years, and has been a conceptual physics teacher at Pinnacle High School in the Paradise Valley Unified School District in Phoenix Arizona for the last 8 years. Prior to teaching at Pinnacle, Mr. Vargas lived in Europe and taught at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) American High School in Mons, Belgium. Vargas earned his undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University in Secondary Education with a focus in Social Studies and Physical Sciences. He has a MA from Trident University International in Educational Leadership. He also has graduate certificates from TUI and the University of San Diego in educational technology and collegiate athletic coaching.

Vargas is the recipient of the 2019 Air Force Association/Rolls Royce National Aerospace Teacher of the Year Award.  In 2016, he was named an Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence by the Arizona Education Foundation. Vargas was also recognized as the Arizona H.S. Science Teacher of the Year by the Arizona Science Teacher Association in 2014.
Vargas is a board member for the Northern Arizona University Arizona K12 Center, an executive board member for STEM Teachers Phoenix, and he is heavily involved with the Arizona Science Teachers Association, the American Modeling Teachers Association, and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Vargas’s philosophy of “STEM for ALL” has been at the heart of his educational outreach and advocacy work. Vargas has led the way on 2 major pieces of STEM education legislation – AZ Senate Bill 1038 and AZ Senate Bill 1051 which together helped to form the Arizona Department of Education’s “GET SET FOR STEM” teacher scholarship program. This program will award over 1.2 million dollars in funding to Arizona STEM and CTE teachers.

As a leader in Arizona, Vargas has worked to lead local and statewide initiatives. He will bring his experience to the Department of Defenses as one of the DOD Fellows, serving at Naval Warfare Station Carderock in the MANTEC program.