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"A book is less important for what it says than for what it makes you think." 

Louis L'Amour


As a 28 year veteran teacher in Tucson, Arizona I wield books as weapons in a war on drugs, teen pregnancy and the pervasive disease of apathy coursing its leaden path through my students’ neighborhoods. I battle against predetermined trajectories of children who believe they are less-than in a country oozing with indifference in an educational system entrenched in blatant disregard.


I use books as though they are EpiPens and every student who walks into my room has a mouth full of shrimp. The more books I can get inside of a student the more apt they are to fight their own food stamp futures and caution tape destinies.


I spent seventeen years teaching with class sets of Hatchet and Esperanza Rising until 2007 when a friend told me to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 584 pages later I began teaching as though books save lives and I have never wavered from my mission.


Founder & Executive Director



  • Florida State University, B.S. Elementary Education

  • University of Arizona, M.A. Language, Reading and Culture



  • Elementary Education K-8

  • Middle School Language Arts Endorsement

  • Reading Specialist Endorsement



Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

  • K-6 Elementary

  • 7-8 Social Studies

  • 6-8 Language Arts, ELL and Reading Intervention


Indian Oasis Baboquivari Elelmentary, Sells, AZ

  • Kindergarten and 2nd  

Daphne Russell - Ignite Phoenix #18

Accolades from a teacher:

Daphne Russell served as a mentor to me, when I was a first year teacher. She listened without judgement. She asked questions that broadened my perspective and challenged me to think critically about my scholars as individuals and the way that they are educated. Since then our collaboration has extended beyond school, district, and now state lines. Ms. Russell’s mentorship has pushed me to a better educator/activist for my scholars. 

-- Nicole R.



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