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2009 Excellence in Teaching Award Winners

As part of Ribbon Week, Millcreek High (St. George) science and health teacher Kathryn Parry scripted out a mock drunk driving accident, enlisted the fire and police departments to help portray a life-like accident scenario in the school parking lot, then coached students in various roles as accident victims, police investigators, prosecuting attorneys and defending attorneys. The event looked so real passing motorists called on cell phones to report the “emergency.” The week continued with a mock trial in which the student body became the jury as the mock drunk driver was prosecuted.

Math Girl, alter ego of Bluffdale Elementary teacher Tiffany Rawlings, provides the avenue her sixth-grade students need to conquer their math fears. Math Girl’s problems in life become the math problems in class. After a big test, she celebrates by standing on a chair and giving students a superhero name for their good grades.

One student told Wahlquist Jr. High (Farr West) science teacher Norm Unck he would be going on an extended vacation to Hawaii and didn’t want to fall behind. Mr. Unck located the class textbook online and e-mailed assignments. He even developed an assignment to test ocean tides. It tied into the Utah state core curriculum and could be done on the beaches of Maui.

Parry, Rawlings and Unck are three of 10 educators honored with 2009 William and Pat Child Excellence in Teaching Awards during the UEA’s annual Superstars in Education Banquet, Oct. 1. Award recipients are nominated by their peers and chosen based on their work with individual students or groups of students. Each winner received a crystal award, a check for $1,500 courtesy of William and Pat Child and a plaque for their school.

Excellence in Teaching Award recipients for 2009 include:

  • Laura Brough, first grade teacher at Lewiston Elementary School, Cache County School District;
  • Rob Geertsen, history teacher and basketball coach at Jordan High School, Canyons School District;
  • David Gilbert, fourth grade teacher at Greenville Elementary School, Cache County School District;
  • Wendi Miller, resource and humanities/art teacher at Copper Hills High School, Jordan School District;
  • Kathryn Parry, science and health teacher at Millcreek High School, Washington County School District;
  • Steven Player, social studies teacher at Richfield High School, Sevier School District;
  • Tiffany Rawlings, sixth grade teacher at Bluffdale Elementary School, Jordan School District;
  • Ronald Ricks, sixth grade teacher at Dilworth Elementary School, Salt Lake City School District;
  • Pamela Searson, special education teacher at Sand Ridge Junior High School, Weber School District; and
  • Norm Unck, science teacher at Wahlquist Junior High School, Weber School District.

In addition to recognizing the state’s outstanding educators, the UEA presented the following awards at the Superstars in Education Banquet:

  • A UEA Honor Roll Award to Dee Burningham, former UEA government relations and political action director, for his post-retirement work in organizing regional political action strategies and campaigning for pro-education political candidates. This award is presented to a non-educator who has provided outstanding service to public education.
  • The 2009 Charles E. Bennett Human and Civil Rights Award to Pat Rusk for her efforts in creating the UEA Children at Risk Foundation A+ Tutoring program for students in struggling schools and leadership roles with NAACP, Job’s Daughters and the Inclusion Center of Utah. This award is presented to an individual who has engaged in human and civil rights activities that have benefited education and had communitywide impact.