Sunrise Teacher of the Year, Monica Carter, creates an engaging environment through building personal connections


Monica Carter works with a student


Monica Carter fell in love with teaching while attending Utah State University. Before discovering her passion for teaching, Carter wanted to be a pediatric nurse and make a difference in the lives of others. After taking several different classes in college, she realized that she could make an equally important impact as a teacher. 


Carter is from West Wendover, Nevada, and moved up to Cache Valley to attend Utah State. She has taught fourth grade at Sunrise for four years. Carter appreciates how USU prepared her to be in the classroom by allowing students to gain experience teaching throughout all four years of college. 


Carter taught grades K-2 during her time at USU, but taught fourth grade as a student-teacher. She discovered she enjoys teaching slightly older students because they could comprehend her jokes and she could be herself around them. Carter sees her students open up and feel comfortable being themselves after they see her be herself. “When they [students] form a connection with their teacher or other peers, it makes a difference in their learning,” Carter explained. “Then we can have good classroom management, but we can also joke around and learn.”


Monica Carter


On Carter’s door, you can find one of her classroom themes, “Advice from a Cactus.” It reminds students to stay sharp, get plenty of sunshine, conserve their resources, don’t desert their friends, be patient through dry spells, accentuate strong points, and wait for their time to bloom. Another theme that is found around Carter’s classroom is Baby Yoda. These engaging themes help connect Carter to her students and help her discover her student's interests and joys in life. 


Monica Carter with students


Another way Carter makes connections with her students is by standing outside of her classroom every morning to greet current, past, and future students. Interacting with students first thing in the morning is important to Carter because she can continue building connections with other students at Sunrise Elementary and see which of her current students may be having a hard morning or need extra support throughout the day.


Principal Derek Beer observes Carter’s efforts to always keep her students’ best interests in mind. "Monica has a great outlook on teaching,” Beer said. “She takes the necessary time to build relationships with every student. She constantly evaluates what her students need and changes her instruction model to fit that need.” 


Sunrise Teacher of the Year, Monica Carter, with Principal Derek Beer and board member Kathy Christiansen
Sunrise Teacher of the Year, Monica Carter, with Principal Derek Beer and
board member Kathy Christiansen