• 2019-20 CCSD Teachers of the Year

 Cache County School District Teacher of the Year: Laura Hackwell

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Cache County School District Teacher of the Year: Laura Hackwell

We are pleased to announce that Laura Hackwell, special education teacher at Spring Creek Middle School, has been selected as the 2019-20 Cache County School District Teacher of the Year. Hackwell, who has taught in the district for the past seven years, is a professional educator of the highest caliber, exemplifying hard work, dedication, and expertise.  

Hackwell finds joy in enabling her students and watching them succeed. “I love seeing them do things that they didn’t think they could do,” she shared. “Even if it takes us a full year to make progress on something, we keep having those high expectations. We let students see the progress they can make.” Though every day brings a new challenge, watching her students’ growth and accomplishments is what motivates Hackwell to be the best teacher she can be. She added, “That’s what keeps me going every day.”   

Adding to the depth of her ability and knowledge, Hackwell, herself is the parent of a special needs child; her son has Spina Bifida. Her preparation and experience enable her to be sensitive to the needs of her students’ parents, while she also uses her skills as a special education teacher in her personal life. “Since my son was born, it’s been interesting to meet both of my worlds,” she says. “I can use my special ed side and apply it at home. I also see the parenting side, as I experience what my students’ parents deal with having a kid with a disability. I have been prepared for this.” This depth of character underlies Hackwell’s abilities as an educator. 

Hackwell’s unique perspective and commitment as a special education teacher amplify her mission to enable and inspire those with disabilities. She works to push her students to achieve their potential and to help integrate them into the community. Through general education classes, lessons that apply to real life, and monthly field trips, Hackwell puts her students' needs first. “My big message in life is to remember that people with disabilities are just as capable as anybody else. That is what I push for at the schools--to have them included in everything, and to keep their expectations high.”

 Birch Creek Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Kris Miller

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Birch Creek Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Kris Miller

Kris Miller, in her words, ties about a thousand shoes a day. Her students always know where to go for love and support, and her commitment to education is apparent in everything she does. She has been selected as Birch Creek Elementary’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year.

Teaching first grade has been a lifelong goal for Miller. She accomplished and surpassed it-- spending 22 of her 24 years teaching, as a first-grade teacher. She is passionate about helping her students develop a love for reading and hopes to write a book one day herself. Miller strives to make sure her students feel valued and cared for. After each day of learning, she always says the same thing to her students: "Play outside, read good books, and remember your teacher loves you."

Principal Trudy Wilson feels fortunate to have Miller as a part of her faculty at Birch Creek because of the way she puts her students first. Wilson and Miller have worked together for many years; they used to walk the halls together talking about their young families who are now grown. Wilson expressed gratitude for Miller’s role in her life and the lives of her students and colleagues. “She is an outstanding teacher who truly cares about children,” Wilson explained, quoting another colleague. “She is a wonderful teacher-mentor who exemplifies quality teaching practices and dedication to our profession.”

 Cache High School Teacher of the Year: Mary Bybee

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Cache High School Teacher of the Year: Mary Bybee

After 29 years of working as an educator, Mary Bybee has taught many students who made a lasting impact on her life. As a result of her love for students and her ability to push them to be their best, Bybee has been selected as the Teacher of the Year at Cache High for the 2019-2020 school year. 

In her nearly three decades in education, Bybee has taught every grade level from preschool to 12th grade. Her desire to help people in need is what inspired her to pursue a career as a teacher. “It has made me a more understanding person and I have realized that some things don’t happen overnight, but with hard work, you can make progress,” Bybee said. 

Cache High Principal Sheri Hansen has a long history of working with Bybee and is thrilled to be her colleague. Hansen described Mary as an excellent teacher and a priceless addition to the staff at Cache High. “She understands special education inside and out,” Hansen said. “She loves kids and is willing to push them toward success even when they think they can't do anymore.  She has the ability to get more work out of them — which is important when students want to give up easily.”

 Bybee appreciates the opportunity to interact with new students each year. She said, “I love meeting the students and spending time with them. I love it when they learn something new that they have had a difficult time with.”

 Canyon Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Jeremy Ralphs

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Canyon Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Jeremy Ralphs

Since 2005, Canyon Elementary has been fortunate to have Jeremy Ralphs as a part of their faculty. Ralphs is a favorite of the students at Canyon and has been selected as the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year. 

Ralphs was inspired to pursue a career as a teacher because of his mother and her legacy. When he was 14 years old, she passed away from cancer. Throughout the rest of his childhood, countless people would tell him about the impact his mother had on them when they were in her classroom. As a result, Ralphs had a desire to continue this legacy in his own classroom one day. 

In his first year of teaching, Ralphs made the decision that he would use lunchtime and recess to develop more personal connections with his students. For 12 years, Ralphs has eaten lunch with his students and played games at recess with them, which he says gives the students a chance to see him on a different level. “I learn what their favorite movies are, what they did over the weekend, and what they love to do. Then, in the classroom, they respect me enough to do the hard things that I ask them to do. I will eat and play with my students until the day I hang up my teaching shoes,” Ralphs said.  

Ralphs said his main goal is for his students to know how much he cares about them. Ralphs explained,  “I’m humbled by what students have to go through and I hope that I can be half the person that these young fourth graders are. I will always do whatever I can to have a relationship with these amazing students.”

 Cedar Ridge Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Andrew Foster

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Cedar Ridge Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Andrew Foster

Cedar Ridge Teacher of the Year Andrew Foster arrives early at school every day with one thing in mind - to work hard and be prepared for his students. “When I was in the Boy Scouts, the Army, or working in transit I always tried to live by the Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared,” Foster explained. “If there is any motto I live by, it is that.”

Foster’s preparation to be an excellent educator began long before his time at Cedar Ridge. A Brigham City local, Foster worked for many years in the transit industry teaching adults to drive commercial vehicles. Though he found success in his work, he yearned for something more. He started teaching at Cedar Ridge three years ago and has quickly shown an ability to lead and inspire those around him.  

Cedar Ridge Principal Amy Bassett said, “Andrew is a born leader. He can take the reigns of a classroom, no problem.” She continued, “He has impeccable classroom management and leads his grade-level team effectively. Students love him. He is a highly requested teacher!” 

Foster believes in the importance of continuous learning and hopes to leave a legacy of truth-seeking. “I hope to leave a love of learning with my students,” he shared, “to help them dare to question the status quo and to think critically about knowledge; to be truth-seekers and scientists; to help students realize that knowledge truly is freedom and that they should never hesitate to question it.”

 Green Canyon Teacher of the Year: Malayna Knowles

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Green Canyon Teacher of the Year: Malayna Knowles

In Malayna Knowles’ classroom, it's not just the grade that matters — it is that her students are really learning. She teaches her students how to study, how to ask questions, how to be curious, how to fail, and how to learn. It is this philosophy and many other qualities that have earned her the title of Green Canyon Teacher of the Year. 

Knowles has been teaching for over 22 years, seven of which have been full-time. When she first began teaching, the majority of her students were juniors and seniors. However, when Green Canyon opened, she began teaching freshman geology classes. Instead of preparing students to move past high school, she is now preparing them to succeed in high school. But her overall goal has not changed.  

“I want to make sure that my students know how to advocate for themselves; that they’ll go talk to a teacher,” Knowles said. “I want them to ask questions when they don’t understand. In my class you can re-do, you can do anything again, do it late. I always say that this is about the student learning the material. So, if it takes you a little longer to learn it than other people, that’s fine. I want my students to know how to fail, and fail gloriously, and learn from that failure because if you never fail, you never learn.”

Green Canyon HS Principal Dave Swenson appreciates that Knowles truly cares about her students, both personally and academically. “She is experienced, but still willing to question her practices and change when she finds a better way,” Swenson explained. “She is kind to everyone she works with and she is a builder. Everyone feels better and does better when they work with her. She has a voice of reason and is a true anchor in our school.”

 Greenville Elementary School Teacher of the Year — Tami Kidman

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Greenville Elementary School Teacher of the Year — Tami Kidman

Walking into Tami Kidman’s classroom at Greenville Elementary, students can instantly feel the kindness, respect, and love that their teacher has for them.  Kidman has been selected as Greenville’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year.  

Kidman’s love for her own children is what pushed her into teaching. After raising her family, she made the choice to go back to school and get her teaching degree, alongside her daughter, in Utah State University’s Elementary Education program. Kidman has been working at Greenville since her graduation from USU six years ago and said that it feels like home to her.

Principal Troy Pugmire thinks that Kidman is an amazing teacher and feels that Greenville is lucky to have her.  “Tami inspires hope, ignites the imagination, and instills the love of learning in her students,” he said. “She is kind and genuinely loves her students. She has control over her classroom without ever having to raise her voice.” 

Kidman’s main goal in her classroom is to empower her students to be and do their best every single day — not only in school but in everything they try. Because of this goal, she doesn’t have traditional classroom rules. Instead, her students each make a promise every day to have respect, integrity, service, and excellence guide their day. She said, “I just want them to come to school, to feel safe, to be happy, to know they're important, to know they have a purpose, and to know they are valued. When that happens, the academics naturally happen because they're so proud of themselves.”

 Heritage Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Mandy Gordon

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Heritage Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Mandy Gordon

An inspiring educator, a loving mother, and a master example — these are all accolades earned by Mandy Gordon, the Heritage Elementary Teacher of the Year.  

“Mandy has many qualities that make her an exceptional teacher,” described Heritage Principal Lance Robins. “She cares about students, parents, and fellow teachers. She is a talented, bright, and giving educator who is always willing to help or share her experience and expertise with others. She loves her third-grade team and will do anything for them.”

While being interviewed, a young student came up behind Mrs. Gordon and hugged her around the shoulders. Gordon quickly hugged back, even before spinning around to see who the surprise visitor was. She apologized for the interruption and lightheartedly explained, “I didn’t know if that was my own daughter or not! I have two girls here, but that was not one of them.” Gordon’s love for children goes beyond her own children or the students in her class — it is felt by anyone. 

This kindness is the legacy that Gordon hopes to leave with her students. “I tell my kids on the last day of school, she said, “as I am trying not to cry, and as I pass them on to their next teacher--I tell them it is good to be good at math, write well, or be good at reading. But what is most important is they are a good person: that they are kind and respectful and they are problem solvers. I want them to remember me as someone who helped them be a good person.”

 Lewiston Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Cindy King

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Lewiston Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Cindy King

Growing up in a family of 12 children taught Cindy King many life lessons — one of which was to strive to reach her full potential in many different responsibilities and relationships. King is a wife, mother, Aggie basketball fan, and beloved fifth-grade teacher at Lewiston Elementary. 

After working for Cache County School District as a secretary for 18 years, King had a desire to shift her focus and change paths in her career. She went back to school to obtain her teaching degree and has been teaching at Lewiston Elementary for the past four years. She has been selected as the school’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year. 

King’s decision to return to school to become an educator was significantly influenced by her time working for the district. Particularly, her supervisor, Craig Ashton, played a big role in her decision. She explained, “He was life-changing for me. He did for me what I hope to do for my students, and that is to help them realize the potential they have. As his assistant, I was pushed and challenged to do things I had never done before. He truly helped me to see the potential that I had never seen before.”

One of King’s favorite parts of being a teacher is having the opportunity to teach students who are also part of her local community. She enjoys getting to see her students at church, the grocery store, or when she is out on a walk with her husband. “I love that teaching for me is not just eight to four on the weekdays — it’s 24/7. It is my entire life,” King said. “My husband compares me to Santa Claus because he says that whenever kids see me, they want to come say ‘hi.’ I love that because, to me, that means I make a difference in their lives.”

 Lincoln Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Pandi Backus

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Lincoln Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Pandi Backus

In Pandi Backus’ class, students recite a theme every day after saying the Pledge of Allegiance. The theme states: “In our class, we are a team. We respect each other. We take risks. We learn from our mistakes.” Backus uses this theme to guide everything in her classroom — especially learning from mistakes. “Making mistakes is a part of learning and a part of life. You make mistakes, but then you should learn and grow from that,” she said.  

Teaching her students to learn from their mistakes is just one part of Backus’ big goals as a teacher. She also strives to build their self-esteem every day so that they are confident in their abilities to complete hard tasks. She explained, “A little positivity, a little encouragement goes a long way. I can get so much more out of my students if I just notice something good that they did; they will work much harder for me. I do have high expectations and I feel like when children are given those expectations, they rise to them.”

Backus has been selected as Lincoln Elementary School’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year. She has been teaching second grade at Lincoln for the past five years, after going back to school in 2014 to finish her degree. Every morning, Backus wakes up excited to go to work and interact with her students. “When they're not here, I miss them,” she explained. “I want them here as much as I want to be here.” 

Former Lincoln Elementary principal Jeni Buist believes that Backus’ emphasis on personal development plays a big part in her success as a teacher. “Pandi is a great teacher! She is very conscientious and is so concerned about helping her students succeed,” Buist said. “Pandi is always looking at data and what can be changed for the benefit of the kids,” she continued. “She is willing to try new strategies for instruction and is not afraid to ask questions. Pandi really cares about her students and does a terrific job teaching them!”

 Millville Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Nichole Anderson

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Millville Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Nichole Anderson

When she was little, Nichole Anderson was inspired to become a teacher by her own school teachers at Millville Elementary School. Little did she know that one day she would be chosen to be Teacher of the Year at the very elementary school she attended as a child. She spent the last five years at Millville, where she currently teaches first grade. Her favorite part of her career as an educator is the children who make every day a unique experience. 

“Working with students has helped me to see things in a new way,” Anderson explained. “They don’t need some big, grand spectacle to be amazed by our world. They get that even small things can be amazing in their own way.” 

Over the last three years, Anderson has been asked to move grade levels each year. Principal Brady Johnson said that she had approached each of her new assignments with a positive attitude and commitment to all of her students — including the recent transition to online instruction. “Nickie has many qualities that make her an exceptional teacher. She always has a smile on her face and is a friend to all,“ Johnson said. “Her students love her and thrive within the loving community she creates within her classroom. As her administrator, I appreciate her willingness to serve in any capacity that is needed.” 

Adapting to online teaching for her first-graders has been challenging, but Anderson has been doing all she can to make it work. “The hardest part for me has been not being able to see my students every day.  I miss them, and I hope they miss me too,” she said.

 Mountain Crest High School Teacher of the Year: Kim Sorensen

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mountain Crest High School Teacher of the Year: Kim Sorensen

Kim Sorensen, Mountain Crest Teacher of the Year, lives by the motto “Carpe Diem! Seize the day and love it!” She shares this enthusiasm with all of her students and it is this love of life that motivates her and makes her an effective and successful educator. Sorensen believes that her students have incredible potential and if they work on having a growth mindset, they will change the world.  

Sorensen prepared for her career as an educator by earning a Bachelor’s degree in English, with a minor in Spanish, and a Master of Education degree in Instructional Leadership from Utah State University. 

Sorensen is currently the Foreign Language Department Chair at Mountain Crest High School, where she also teaches English and Spanish. “Seeing students become aware of another culture and language is so exciting!” She said. “We are a worldwide community and this pandemic is drawing the world together in many ways.  I hope my online course draws in elements to see the world as a smaller place, helping students feel connected in some way to other countries.” 

Mountain Crest principal Teri Cutler has witnessed firsthand the ability that Sorensen has to inspire students, as well as her fellow teachers. “She loves helping students connect with each other and with other places around the world,” Cutler said. “She is passionate about helping them learn to be positive leaders.”

 Mountainside Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Brenda Bilodeau

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mountainside Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Brenda Bilodeau

Teaching elementary students in Cache County School District has been Brenda Bilodeau’s passion for three decades. Bilodeau said she can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t have a desire to be a teacher — and her efforts in becoming an excellent educator have influenced hundreds of students. Bilodeau has been selected as the Mountainside Elementary School Teacher of the Year. As a second-grade teacher, Bilodeau spends a large amount of her time in the classroom teaching students to read. 

“She is an amazing teacher of reading and writing,” said Mountainside Principal Lynette Riggs. “She is determined that her students will not only learn to read but also learn to love reading through joyful engagement with the text. The written work her students produce is inspiring and well noted by other teachers.” Teaching students to read isn’t just something that Bilodeau is good at. For her, it’s a passion. 

“The best part of my job is seeing the light come on for young readers. When reading really starts to make sense to them is a great reward for me,” she said. Seeing that light in her students is something Bilodeau is missing during this period of online learning. She misses helping her students understand new concepts. “I miss seeing the daily progress that second graders make,” she said. “I also miss the hugs, handshakes and high-fives.”

Riggs praised Bilodeau for her dedication and efforts to continually improve. She said, “Microsoft has a motto that is similar to ‘the learn-it-alls’ will do better than the ‘know-it-alls.’ Mrs. Bilodeau is veteran teacher and certainly knows a lot, but she is also a life-long learner. She cares about learning, and she is continually trying to improve her effectiveness in the classroom.”

 Nibley Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Taylor Stephenson

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Nibley Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Taylor Stephenson

A summer of teaching English in India helped Nibley Elementary’s Teacher of the Year, Taylor Stephenson, discover his life’s passion for education. Stephenson has been at Nibley Elementary for all four years of his teaching career and currently teaches fourth grade.

Stephenson’s students have taught him many lessons over the years that he is applying to try and become a better teacher. “One main lesson I have learned interacting with students is that patience is key to understanding,” he explained. “Whether it is the teachers that need the patience to understand the students or the students need the patience to understand what the teacher is trying to teach.”

As it is for many teachers, online learning has been a challenge for Stephenson. He loves every aspect of helping students learn, but ideally, he would rather be in the classroom with his students every day. However, he said that he feels that teaching online has provided him some fun learning opportunities that will influence his teaching style for the rest of his career. 

“It has taught me to make sure that my teaching can be adaptive.  I have been able to expand my tools and resources — but most importantly, it has helped me to refocus and remind myself what is actually important when it comes to teaching,” Stephenson said.  “Too often, we focus on the unimportant and the menial. Transitioning to online learning has forced us to step back and remind ourselves what is most important.”

 North Cache Middle School Teacher of the Year: Marla Trowbridge

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

North Cache Middle School Teacher of the Year: Marla Trowbridge

Growing up, Marla Trowbridge didn’t plan to become a teacher. Her love for animals and science propelled her towards her dream of becoming a veterinarian. However, eventually, she found a new passion, teaching in the classroom. Trowbridge spends her time now sharing her love for animals and science with students at North Cache Middle School. 

With 11 animals in her classroom, counting Miss Tilly the Bulldog, students get many hands-on opportunities in a learning environment that’s full of life. Trowbridge’s fun personality, dedication to her students, and closet full of 140+ science shirts are all part of what makes her who she is. She has been selected as North Cache Middle School’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year. 

Principal John Anderson praised Trowbridge for her ability to engage students in lessons through her creative teaching and hands-on approach. “She shows an authentic caring for all students. She takes time to get to know her students and shows an interest in them,” Anderson said. “Marla is often at school every night helping new teachers develop lesson plans for the next day. She is a very dedicated teacher who gives her all to improve our school environment.”

Trowbridge shared that her favorite thing to teach students is “anything that has to do with life sciences,” but she hopes that students leave her classroom having learned a more important lesson.  “I want the kids to walk out of my classroom with a love of science and a respect for life in all of its varieties,” Trowbridge explained. “In five years, they’re not going to remember all of the nitty-gritty of what they were taught in this classroom. But they will remember how they were treated, the animals and labs, and most importantly they’ll walk out of here able to converse in science and willing to ask questions.”

 North Park Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Shelby Olson

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

North Park Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Shelby Olson

In the words of North Park Principal Alden Jack,  Shelby Olson’s happy and cheerful demeanor radiates "through her classroom, down the hall, through the school, and into the community." She is an amazing teacher who treats each child with care while making learning fun. And, she has been named North Park Elementary’s Teacher of the Year.

Olson graduated from Utah State University with a dual major in special education and elementary education. She taught special education at Mount Logan Middle School for three years, then took a 17-year break to raise her children, during which she taught preschool. It was during this time that Olson found a passion for teaching young children. When she started teaching at North Park six years ago, she decided to teach first grade and has been there ever since. 

Not only is Olson an exceptional teacher, but she has also taken on many committees such as the match adoption committee, leading the SAT team, and participating in Utah’s Leading through Effective, Actionable, and Dynamic Education (ULEAD). Principal Jack appreciates that Olson isn’t afraid to try new techniques and programs and is always willing to help any student, parent, or teacher who needs help. 

Olson misses her students, especially during this time of online schooling. She stays connected with them through technology and works hard to keep her students engaged and communicating. “I want them to know that I love them, especially now, since I don’t get to see them every day,” Olson said. “If they know that you legitimately love them, they will work and learn for you. They just need to feel loved and safe and know that you care.”

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

 Ridgeline High School Teacher of the Year: Greg Hamilton

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Ridgeline High School Teacher of the Year: Greg Hamilton

Running into a sandbar on his father’s boat taught young Greg Hamilton one of his favorite life lessons. With a broken propeller in hand, Hamilton thought his dad would be furious. Instead, his father was kind and turned the accident into a teaching moment about making mistakes.

Though he still had to fix the boat, Hamilton kept the propeller as a reminder that a mistake is just a step in learning. As Ridgeline High School’s Teacher of Year, Hamilton knows how important it is for his students to feel comfortable trying new things and strives to help them learn the same lesson about making mistakes. 

Hamilton has been teaching Spanish to CCSD students for 25 years. After serving a religious mission in Bolivia, he fell in love with the Spanish language and decided to pursue it as his teaching career and has loved seeing students applying what they learn in his class. “I try to make it as fun and as educational as possible. Hopefully, they learn to love learning in my classes because it will help them in other aspects of life,” Hamilton explained. “Spanish is really fun because it gives students a chance to actually use what they are learning in school.” 

According to Ridgeline Principal Brittany Foster, students have a deep respect for Hamilton and his teaching abilities. She explained, “Greg has an engaging classroom with an innovative teaching style. He devotes his time to ensuring that his students receive well-planned lessons, are graded fairly based on their learning and have many options to relearn when they don’t understand.”

 River Heights Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Angie Robins

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

River Heights Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Angie Robins

Most people don’t remember much from when they were five years old. But Angie Robins was inspired by the example of her kindergarten teacher and she desired from that young age to make a difference in the lives of children. She has pursued and achieved this dream and has been honored as the Teacher of the Year at River Heights Elementary.  

Although this is Robins’ third year as a 5th-grade teacher at River Heights, she has been teaching for over 22 years. She even taught all five of her own children, with her youngest currently in her classroom. Robins believes in the importance of goal setting and working hard to succeed. “Success is huge in my classroom,” she said. “I am always trying to give them the tools and talents to succeed and I tell them that they can achieve anything that they want. But, they have to work hard too. It’s not going to come easy.”

River Heights Principal Stephanie Adams praises Robins’ focus on helping her students to succeed. “Angie goes so far above and beyond for her students,” Adams explained. “She spends countless hours making sure that she is doing what is best for each and every one, no matter their abilities.”

Robins hopes that her students leave her classroom empowered and ready to take on the world. “I want them to leave knowing that they can be anything that they want to be when they grow up. The sky’s the limit; there’s no end in sight.” She continued, “These kids can be successful in anything that they try. If you dream it, believe it, do it.”

 Sky View High School Teacher of the Year: Lester Lee

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Sky View High School Teacher of the Year: Lester Lee

Working in education for three decades has given Lester Lee a legacy of kindness and artistic talent, which is evident to anyone who steps foot in his classroom. Lee, who has won numerous art awards and accolades, is Sky View High School’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year.

Lee’s father, a teacher, inspired him to pursue a career in education. In fact, most of Lee’s ten siblings followed in their father’s footsteps and became teachers themselves. Lee’s passion for art led him to choose art education, which he enjoys because it allows him to “be surrounded by art and artists every day.” He admits, “I can’t get enough of it.”

Principal Mike Monson believes that not only is Lee a talented artist and teacher, but also an exceptional addition to Sky View’s staff. Monson admires him for his ability to go about sharing his talents quietly. For example, every year, Lee donates some of his own artwork to the entire faculty. He also helps his AP students put together beautiful portfolios to showcase their abilities. “Not only has he helped thousands of young people develop their artistic talents, but he has helped thousands of young people learn how to be a better person. Lester is one of the kindest, most giving individuals you will ever meet,” Monson said. 

Lee finds enjoyment in watching his students finally grasp something that they have struggled with. He believes it’s these students who have made him the person he is today. “The biggest reward is a student’s smile when they get it,” Lee said. “I didn't think the students had changed me until I contemplated retirement and losing that student-based atmosphere.  Now, I'm wondering how I will get along without them.” 

 South Cache Middle School Teacher of the Year: Pam Repko

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

South Cache Middle School Teacher of the Year: Pam Repko

The moment someone walks into Pam Repko’s classroom, they immediately feel calm and invited. This is the environment that Repko has strived to create in her 12 years of teaching as a speech-language pathologist at South Cache Middle School. Her ability to compassionately support each individual student is one of many reasons why she has been selected as the 2019-20 Teacher of the Year at South Cache. 

Repko feels driven to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone she meets. She strives to do this in her classroom by understanding the needs of each student and by encouraging them to reach their potential. Her kindness and patience are noticed and appreciated. “Pam is an incredibly empathetic person,” explained Principal Doug Snow. “She is professional in every way and is compassionate and cares deeply about her students and the teachers in her department. She is well-deserving of this award.”

Colleagues at South Cache have also been affected by Repko’s positivity and influence. “She is supportive of the school culture and is an amazing example to our staff, especially our new teachers,” Snow continued. “She is selfless with her time as she mentors them.  They all feel fortunate to have Pam as their department head, mentor and coach.”

“I believe that everyone has time and talents to share,” Repko shared. “I also believe that communication is the foundation of all relationships and that positive relationships can be built by combining time, talents, and communication.”

 Spring Creek Middle School Teacher of the Year: Rachel Kenning

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Spring Creek Middle School Teacher of the Year: Rachel Kenning

Having a love for science helped Rachel Kenning find her dream job: sharing that passion with others as an educator. Currently an eighth-grade science teacher, Kenning has been selected as Spring Creek Middle School’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year.She has been teaching for the past 16 years, four of which have been spent at Spring Creek.

According to Principal Blair Powell, Kenning’s efforts to ensure that all of her students are engaged and learning is a big part of what makes her such an asset to the Spring Creek faculty. “She uses a wide variety of activities and methods to help students learn at high levels. She is a team player and an excellent leader in her collaboration teams,” Powell said. “She is also constantly looking for ways that she can learn and improve.”

Kenning has learned many things throughout her teaching career, but for her, the most impactful has been the discovery of just what her students are capable of achieving. “Teaching has taught me the capacity of the human being,” she explained. “I had more of a fixed mindset — some kids come into the world smarter and some kids are just not as capable-- but I don't believe that anymore. I believe that almost everyone has great capacity and my kids show me that every day. 

Kenning believes that a key element to her students’ success is the support that she, her students, and the other teachers constantly receive from the community. “We have amazingly supportive parents and kids that make Spring Creek a really awesome school,” Kenning said. “They're kind to each other, they work hard, they’re respectful. The teachers here are amazing — you couldn't find a better school to work for.”

 Summit Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Kate Kidd

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Summit Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Kate Kidd

For the last four years, Kate Kidd has been changing the lives of students at Summit Elementary School through her efforts to help them believe in themselves. As a resource teacher at Summit, this isn’t always an easy job, but Kidd is up to the task. In recognition of her efforts and accomplishments, she has been chosen as Summit’s 2019-20 Teacher of the Year.

Kidd has enjoyed working with students with disabilities ever since high school and is passionate about helping their confidence grow and working to fulfill their individual needs. She said, “I just love watching them go from struggling with something to finding success and confidence in whatever it is they're doing. A lot of times things come harder for some of these kids — but I love watching them push through and work hard to see their own potential. Eventually, they see how much they can do and that just changes everything for them.”

“Kate goes above and beyond what is required of her for the benefit of all students and staff at Summit Elementary,” Principal Aimee McNeil explained. “Her classroom environment is positive, uplifting, and friendly. Every student who walks through her door knows she believes in them and their ability to succeed.” 

The resource aides who work in Kidd’s classroom also praised her teaching style and efforts toward the 27 students she works with. “Regardless of who the student is, she gives her whole heart to them,” explained Shellie Kirkland. “Not every teacher can do that.” Kirkland continued, “Whether it's parents, or teachers, or students, Kate loves them.”

 Sunrise Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Sue Hintze

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Sunrise Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Sue Hintze

Sue Hintze is Sunrise Elementary School’s teacher of the year, and for good reason. She lives to sow connections not only with her students but with everyone she meets. Her desire to help and improve the lives of others is apparent in the way that she motivates and inspires.

Sunrise Principal Derek Beer agrees that Hintze is an exceptional educator who is well-deserving of this award. “Sue always works very hard at meeting the needs of all of her students.” Beer said. “She builds unmatched rapport with students and staff members. She deserves every bit of positive recognition.”

A Minnesota native, Hintze graduated from North Dakota University in Grand Forks, North Dakota with a degree in Elementary Education and Psychology. While in college, she originally planned on only majoring in psychology. However, as Hintze got deeper into children’s psychology, she realized that she loved making connections with children, and thought that she would be more helpful to them as a teacher. This desire to make connections, especially with her students, has effected her entire career and has helped make her the exceptional educator she is today.

After spending some time in California while her husband got his Ph.D., they moved back to Cache Valley. Hintze began teaching in 2007 at Summit Elementary. She also spent some time teaching at Birch Creek Elementary and is currently in her third year teaching 4th grade at Sunrise Elementary.

 

 

 Wellsville Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Elizabeth Johnson

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Wellsville Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Elizabeth Johnson

A lifetime of serving others helped Elizabeth Johnson develop her passion for teaching — specifically teaching those who might need just a little extra help. Johnson has been working in special education for 16 years in the Cache County School District and has been selected as Wellsville Elementary’s Teacher of the Year. 

Johnson’s life as a helper started during her high school years when she worked as a peer tutor. Helping and loving her classmates inspired her to pursue special education as a career. She explained, “I felt like it was my purpose to help kids who struggle and need a little bit of extra love, compassion, and kindness.”

Principal Glen Harris described Johnson as a hardworking, dedicated, and amazing special education teacher who is a vital part of Wellsville’s school. “Her students love her for her kindness, fun personality, and understandable instruction,” Harris explained. “She has been a life-changing teacher to many of our most struggling learners.” He appreciates that Johnson is always willing to contribute ideas to teachers about intervention and assistance for their students.  

If there’s anything that Johnson hopes her students take from their time in her class, it’s to recognize their value and just how capable they are of doing anything they set their mind to.  “I want students to know that they can do hard things. And I want them to remember that I was a compassionate and caring teacher who cared for them as a whole person, not just as a student,” Johnson said. “There’s nothing else that I’d rather be doing than be here helping these kids.”

 White Pine Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Kelsey Clark

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

White Pine Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Kelsey Clark

In a weekly online discussion board for Kelsey Clark’s sixth-grade class, students are asked to respond to a series of questions. One recent question was to list “two things you learned this week.” One student responded, “I learned that I really miss Miss Clark.” Since moving online, Clark’s students miss being physically present for her positivity, infectious energy, and ability to make everyone feel loved. These are just a few of the reasons that she is White Pine Elementary’s Teacher of the Year. 

It was always Clark’s calling to be a teacher, though it took her a while to realize it. After graduating from Utah State University with a degree in exercise science, Clark worked as a PE teacher at Summit Elementary for six years. It was then that she was encouraged by her colleagues to get her teaching degree, which she completed in 2014. Clark is currently in her sixth year of teaching and is grateful that she can make a difference in her students’ lives. 

White Pine Principal Shellie Healy was Clark’s mentor teacher when she started teaching six years ago. She is now her principal and has loved watching her improve her craft every year. According to Healy, Clark is an integral part of White Pine’s success--through her work on the school culture committee, attendance at Big Mind, Small Mind study sessions, and her contributions to the Teaching with Love and Logic book study.

Healy explained, “Last summer Kelsey presented at the resilience conference at USU by sharing her strategies for building students up and teaching them to believe in themselves. This year she really stepped up to the plate by supporting a long term sub for a little over three months when her colleague was gone with a brain tumor. Several parents of Kelsey’s students, as well as many of her colleagues, nominated her to be our Teacher of the Year, and I couldn’t be more proud!