Green Canyon’s Teacher of the Year uses engaging methods to prepare students for their future careers
Alison Ence, Green Canyon High School’s 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year, believes that teaching her computer science students coding is important, but it’s not the only thing she wants them to learn in her class. She also teaches them valuable principles that they can use in their future careers.
Currently a computer science teacher at Green Canyon, Ence worked as a web developer for eight years before finding her love for teaching. She received her teaching degree at Weber State University and taught business in Vernal, Utah. After three years in Vernal, she moved to Cache Vally to fill a business teacher position for Green Canyon High School. She was excited to return to the Valley since she received her undergraduate degree at Utah State University. She taught business at Green Canyon for two years before becoming a computer science teacher.
With a lot of professional experience under her belt, Ence is now teaching skills that she learned in her career, to her students. These skills are not only computer skills but also skills that will help them in their future careers. “It’s not just coding,” Ence explained. “I want to teach them principles they can apply in everyday life.”
To encourage students to figure out problems by themselves, Ence utilizes a teaching method called the rubber duck method. With this method, if they cannot figure out a bug in their code, they are encouraged to talk to one of the many rubber ducks in the classroom about the problem before seeking Ence’s help. She has found that when her students first explain it to one of the rubber ducks, they often solve the problem themselves before she needs to help them.
Not only does Ence teach problem-solving for their future careers, but she also encourages her students to become leaders. “I like to do a lot of hands-on learning,” Ence said. “If you were doing this in a job, you would be working with a team, you would have deadlines, and you would have to report to the team leader. They take turns being the team leader in the classroom.”
According to Principal John Anderson, Ence is known for being a thoughtful and kind teacher. She makes learning fun and exciting, and her love for her students and those she works with is reflected in her teaching. “Alison is known for being friendly, helpful, relating well to her students, a master of her content, and always willing to help students in need,” Anderson shared. “She is always willing to help in any way needed.”
Ence hopes that if her students learn just one thing from her, it would be to be kind and love learning. “I love learning, and so if I can help them to love learning, then I have done my job,” she said.
Ence, shown here with Green Canyon Principal John Anderson and board member
Kathy Christiansen was honored at the March 16, 2023 board meeting.