Arch Coal Foundation, UEA Name 2011 Top Educators and Public Education Advocates
Awards presented at Superstars in Education Banquet
Many students at Utah’s remote Monument Valley High School do not even dream of going to college. But teacher Howard Dee decided students on the reservation must be exposed to what college can do for them. He created a program that facilitates student trips to college campuses and helps students plan curriculum to meet entrance requirements. Last school year, he took 25 students on visits to colleges in Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.
Longview Elementary in Murray has a reputation for its exceptional annual Shakespeare Festival, due in large part to the efforts of fifth/sixth-grade teacher Dale Johnson. Over the years, she has written introductory parts, sewed costumes, created scenery with students, choreographed and taught dances, and directed the plays. At the invitation of the Tony Award winning southern Utah program, Johnson organized a trip for her entire class, along with scenery and costumes, to perform at the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City.
Donna Tippetts has become somewhat of a personal trainer to students in her P.E. classes at Woods Cross High School. She helps each one set goals, then designs exercise and nutrition programs to help each meet those goals. One senior who had been overweight her entire life set a goal to lose 35 pounds. With Tippetts’ help, the student began changing her habits. After graduation, the student returned to the school to report she had reached her goal, but more importantly, she was a healthier, happier person because of the skills learned in Tippetts’ class.
Dee, Johnson and Tippetts are three of 10 educators honored with 2011 UEA/Arch Coal Foundation Excellence in Teaching Awards during the Utah Education Association’s annual Superstars in Education banquet at Noah’s in South Jordan. The guest speaker for the banquet was Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert. He and Arch Coal President of Western Operations Ken Cochran presented the awards.
Award recipients are nominated by their peers and chosen based on their work with individual students or groups of students. Each winner received an award and a check for $1,500, courtesy of the Arch Coal Foundation.
Excellence in Teaching Award recipients for 2011 include (click name to see profile):
- Deborah Brown, science teacher at Bingham High School in Jordan District;
- Howard Dee, student achievement coordinator at Monument Valley High School in San Juan School District;
- Dale Johnson, fifth/sixth grade teacher at Longview Elementary School, Murray School District;
- Charlie Matthews, AP physics teacher at Park City High School in Park City School District;
- Sherrolyn Middleton, teacher librarian at Bonneville Jr. High School in Granite School District;
- Sherl Miner, fifth grade teacher at Mt. Mahogany Elementary School in Alpine School District;
- George Richardson, principal at Fillmore Middle School in Millard School District;
- Holly Stankosky, speech/language pathologist at Horizon Elementary School in Washington County School District;
- Donna Tippetts, PE teacher at Woods Cross High School in Davis School District; and
- Michelle Van Dyken, teacher at Canyons Transition Academy in Canyons School District.
The UEA has sponsored the Excellence in Teaching Awards since 2000. This is the Arch Coal Foundation’s first year as title sponsor for the awards (see story).
“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to honor these outstanding educators. They are a shining example of the great work happening in our public schools each day,” said UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “On behalf of the Utah Education Association and our 18,000 teacher members, we also express our gratitude to the Arch Coal Foundation for sponsoring the Excellence in Teaching Awards and allowing us to continue our tradition of recognizing the best and the brightest among Utah’s teachers.”
“The Arch Coal Foundation is very pleased to expand its teacher-recognition efforts in Utah,” said Steven F. Leer, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Arch Coal, Inc. “The Foundation’s support of the Utah Education Association’s Excellence in Teaching Awards enables us to recognize teachers statewide, in addition to continuing our annual teacher awards program in Carbon, Emery, Sanpete and Sevier counties.”
In addition to recognizing the state’s outstanding educators, the UEA presented Honor Roll Awards to the following individuals who have provided outstanding service to public education (click name to see profile):
- Dixie Allen, Utah State School Board member, for her long-time advocacy and support of public schools and teachers;
- Virginius “Jinks” and Barbara Ann Dabney, partners in a St. George law firm, for their work in promoting student involvement in learning about the U.S. Constitution; and
- JoDee Sundberg, Alpine Board of Education member and Utah State School Boards Association president, for her work as an ardent defender of public schools and public school teachers.
A Charles E. Bennett Human and Civil Rights Award was also presented to Park City teacher and Park City Education Association President Heidi Matthews for her efforts to make Park City School District the state’s first to ensure health benefits for all employee family members, including domestic partners.
A special recognition was also presented to East High social studies teacher Leigh VandenAkker, who was named 2012 Utah Teacher of the Year.
About Arch Coal
Arch’s Canyon Fuel Company is Utah’s largest coal producer and a large, state employer, with a workforce of 900. U.S.-based Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) is a top five global coal producer and marketer, with 179 million tons of coal sold pro forma in 2010. Arch is the most diversified American coal company, with mining complexes across every major U.S. coal supply basin. Arch’s core business is supplying cleaner-burning, low-sulfur thermal and metallurgical coal to power generators and steel manufacturers on four continents.
In addition to the Excellence in Teaching awards, the Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher-recognition or grant programs in Colorado, West Virginia and Wyoming, as well as a number of other education-related causes. Including the teacher awards program, Arch Coal and its Foundation support $1.4 million in education-related programs and charitable giving each year. Details about the Foundation’s teacher awards and grant programs are available at archteacherawards.com.
Award Winner Profiles
Science teacher at Bingham High School in Jordan District
The AP chemistry curriculum requires a lab component, but with a shortage of instructional time, large classes and inadequate lab space, Debbie Brown faced a dilemma. Despite it being outside her contracted hours, she decided to run two labs, one immediately after school and one in the evening to accommodate students who work or participate in extracurricular activities.
Class projects include a mock crime scene and modeling forensics. Former students who now work in the field of criminal science join her in creating a crime scene in the classroom and instructing students on the process of collecting and analyzing evidence. She also guided her students in creating a “Periodic Table” quilt, which hangs in her classroom.
“Debbie is a fantastic educator who has the respect of her colleagues and her students and is a shining example of what is great about teachers,” wrote a fellow teacher. “(Her) enthusiasm for science, her passion for teaching, her love of students and her desire to advocate for public education make her an exemplary (teacher).”
(back to top)
Student achievement coordinator at Monument Valley High School in San Juan School District
Many students at the remote Monument Valley High School do not even dream of going to college. In an effort to foster that dream, Howard Dee decided students on the reservation must be exposed to what college can do for them.
Dee created a program that facilitates student trips to college campuses and helps students plan curriculum to meet entrance requirements. Last school year, he took 25 students on visits to colleges in Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. He has also pursued grants that allow concurrent enrollment students to make multiple trips each year to campuses where they buy books and meet instructors.
Dee’s efforts are paying off in this unique community as his students are not only dreaming of advanced education, but are enrolling in colleges and even receiving scholarships. “Many of (these students) will be the first in their families to go to college,” wrote a UEA Board member. “This opportunity can change not only their lives, but the lives of their families, future generations and their entire community.”
(back to top)
Fifth/sixth grade teacher at Longview Elementary School in Murray School District
Longview Elementary has a reputation for its exceptional annual Shakespeare Festival, due in large part to the efforts of Dale Johnson. She has written introductory parts, sewed costumes, created scenery with students, choreographed and taught dances, and directed the plays. At the invitation of the Tony Award winning southern Utah program, Johnson organized a trip for her entire class, along with scenery and costumes, to perform at the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City.
One fellow teacher said language arts is Johnson’s forte. “She creates assignments that encourage higher-level thinking skills.” The colleague also describes “exciting projects” Johnson creates for social studies. “For instance, (students) make huge sarcophagi that line the hallways for Ancient Egypt, thrones for the Greek gods and goddesses, and World War Two projects that include the students interviewing and doing research on a family member.”
Another co-worker describes Johnson as “a fabulous science teacher who believes in hands-on investigation. She has had chickens hatching, solar ovens baking, and Petri dishes growing in her classroom.”
(back to top)
AP physics teacher at Park City High School in Park City School District
In 1992, when he was charged with building a physics department in Park City, Charlie Matthews had only one small section with about a dozen students. Nineteen years later, the school has four levels of physics courses with more than 250 students, enough to keep two full-time teachers very busy.
Matthews has inspired numerous students to major in physics. “I am the most fortunate physics teacher in the state of Utah to get to work alongside the state’s best physics teacher,” wrote a co-worker who also happens to be a former student of Charlie Matthews. “Mr. Matthews’ use of technology in his (class) demonstrations surely led me to my graduate research project in which I designed, built and automated my own sky monitoring observatory out of commercial telescope equipment.”
Matthews’ classes are rigorous with high goals and expectations for his students. He has some of the state’s highest AP passing rates at 93-97 percent, as well as outstanding state core exam scores.
(back to top)
Teacher librarian at Bonneville Jr. High School in Granite School District
The library at Bonneville Jr. High has undergone what some call an ‘attitude change’ since Sherrolyn Middleton came to the school in 2007. “In my nearly two decades of teaching, I have never seen a school library so engaging, fun, stimulating and accessible,” wrote a teacher at the school.
Middleton sponsors a “geek club” for students interested in computers and what she calls a “30 in 30” reading blitz, which rewards students (and faculty!) for reading from a specific list of books in 30 weeks. Prizes include games, toys, USB drives, pizza parties, posters and more. The activity creates a venue for teachers and students to discuss books they are reading.
“Most amazing about Sherrolyn’s job is that she interacts and has a positive impact with every student at Bonneville,” wrote a teacher. “She manages to play a game of chess or checkers, recommend books, chat with students and give computer assistance all while checking library materials in and out and keeping student behavior under control.”
(back to top)
Fifth grade teacher at Mt. Mahogany Elementary School in Alpine School District
A ‘Traveling Show’ program performed by Sherl Miner’s fifth-grade students each year creates excitement throughout the school and the community. Other grade-level teachers assist in preparations. Parents volunteer to teach dances, collect costumes, assist narrators and prepare for the show. Students try out for various opportunities to be on stage.
Miner focuses on the Twentieth Century when writing and producing the programs. “Each student is welcome to dance, sing, narrate or perform,” wrote a fellow teacher. “I especially love this aspect of the program. Children gain confidence being in front of others. The production is amazing!”
Miner also designed a school recycling program. His students gather the recycling materials each week and distribute it to the bins where it is collected. Students and staff learn to recycle papers each day rather than throwing them out. As part of the school’s annual Earth Day celebration, classes compete to see which can collect the most recycled materials. Miner’s students then graph the competition results as a math exercise.
(back to top)
Principal at Fillmore Middle School in Millard School District
Last year, the school where George Richardson serves as principal was the only one in his district to pass federal ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’ guidelines. “Not only did we pass…we were above the district and state averages in every category,” wrote one of the school’s teachers. “In the past three years, (Richardson) has taken our school from average to superior.”
Richardson works tirelessly to make sure each teacher and student has the tools he or she needs to succeed. After purchasing writing software for every student in the school, writing scores increased dramatically, with more than 85 percent passing the Direct Writing Assessment. Language arts passing rates for seventh- and eighth-grade students is approaching 100 percent.
The faculty member concluded that Richardson’s “encouragement and collaboration with faculty and staff has everyone energized and excited to again make a difference in the lives of our students. With Mr. Richardson as my principal, I can easily see myself teaching for many more years. Teaching is fun again.”
(back to top)
Speech/language pathologist at Horizon Elementary School in Washington County School District
Holly Stankosky gives a voice to students who have none. She leads a team that works with children who need an alternative or augmentative means of communication (AAC) or other assistive technology in order to fully access the school curriculum. Her work has included assisting teachers and parents in obtaining funding for AAC devices, which can cost in excess of $7,000.
Stankosky helped one nonverbal kindergarten student who had frequent tantrums by devising a low-tech communication system called Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). By the end of the school year, the student’s tantrums had substantially decreased because he was able to communicate. A year later he had outgrown the need for PECS and was speaking.
“Holly is truly a talented speech teacher,” a colleague wrote. “She gives the gift of communication to her students. Her students love her, their families appreciate her and she is admired and respected by her peers. Holly literally gives her students what every child deserves…a voice.”
(back to top)
PE teacher at Woods Cross High School in Davis School District
While she still loves sports and coaching, Donna Tippetts has developed a new passion over the years…changing students’ lives.
Tippetts realized that students knew they were overweight, out of shape or eating poorly, and saw how this affected their self esteem. So, she created a new curriculum that shows students how to realistically change their lifestyles. She then wrote grants to acquire elliptical trainers, treadmills, stationary bicycles and other exercise equipment to get kids up and moving.
Tippetts became a personal trainer to students in her class. She helped each one set goals, then designed exercise and nutrition programs to help each meet those goals. One senior who had been overweight her entire life set a goal to lose 35 pounds. With Tippetts’ help, the student began changing her habits. By graduation she had lost 20 pounds, was eating better and had more energy. The next year, the student returned to the school to report she had reached her goal, but more importantly, she was a healthier, happier person because of the skills learned in Tippetts’ class.
(back to top)
Michelle Van Dyken
Teacher at Canyons Transition Academy in Canyons School District
Riding UTA buses during the summer may not seem like part of a teacher’s job, but Michelle Van Dyken decided she needed to be certain her students could navigate public transportation system routes rather than rely on district transportation.
Now in its second year, Van Dyken has established a program that helps students age 18 to 21 with special needs transition beyond public education. She can often be found knocking doors of business owners to see if they would be willing to provide employment or volunteer internships for her students.
“(Van Dyken) sees students with autism, Down syndrome or other severe disabilities not as an impaired individual, but as someone who deserves the chance to interact with the world,” writes a co-worker. “What some people may view as a quick trip to the grocery store or a stop at the library, Michelle sees as an opportunity for her students to become more independent…to learn life skills they will need as they leave the public education system.”
(back to top)
Charles E. Bennett Award for Human and Civil Rights in Utah
(Remarks given by Eastern UniServ Director and former UEA President Pat Rusk)
Heidi Matthews has been serving as the President of the Park City Education Association for several years and in that position, she has championed many causes for both teachers and students.
She has a strong personal sense of what is fair and right, and always acts accordingly, regardless of the political environment. She often works singlehandedly – and long into the night - to bring about changes, correct wrongs, and to prepare herself with research and information that will keep her members active and informed about the issues. Without even realizing the enormity of her individual actions, Heidi made history this year.
When a new teacher was hired from out of state, he was informed by the district that he and his daughter would have health insurance, but his life partner would not. He was shocked to find out that in Utah, the family friendly state, he would not be able to provide health insurance for all members of his family.
When Heidi listened to his concern, she knew immediately that this was neither fair nor right. So without hesitation, she set about righting the wrong. She called the UniServ office to find out which school districts offered health insurance to domestic partners so she could look at sample language and found out that the answer was none. Undaunted, she asked for more information.
She was introduced to leaders of Equality Utah, and soon had an arsenal of research. She did her homework, worked with district officials, squared her shoulders and made an impassioned speech about equal treatment of employees to the Park City School Board. The room was filled to capacity that night. Despite her shaking knees and sweating hands, Heidi successfully convinced the school board members that they should offer the same health benefits to all. It passed unanimously.
It wasn’t until Heidi found a long-time colleague sobbing in the hallway that she began to realize what had been accomplished. Her actions brought dignity to many teachers who had never been able to speak up.
I was so proud that one of our UEA leaders stepped out and stepped up to make Park City the first school district in the Utah to recognize the value of caring for the health and well- being of families – all kinds of families.
For her selfless advocacy for teachers, for her tireless efforts to represent ALL of our members, for her stubborn hard headed determination, and for her steadfast commitment to do what is right regardless of personal risks, I believe that Heidi Matthews deserves the UEA Charles E. Bennett Human and Civil Rights Award for 2011-12.
UEA 'Honor Roll' Awards
(Remarks given by UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh)
I nominated Dixie for her courageous leadership and unparalleled advocacy on behalf of our children and our teachers.
We are experiencing unprecedented attacks on our profession and on our public schools. Dixie is not afraid to speak her mind with dignity and respect for public education. She has submitted numerous op-ed pieces and letters challenging and supporting public schools and teachers.
As UEA President, I can count on Dixie to be honest and forthright in her discussions. While we have not always agreed, she recognizes that the teacher “voice” is valuable and one that must not be ignored as we move forward. She is respectful, honest, and has the greatest integrity.
It must feel like “swimming upstream” when she often finds herself speaking out at State School Board meetings for what she believes is right despite overwhelming opposition. She never fails to speak from her heart with regard to students. You know she genuinely cares.
As an educator and an administrator, her opinions come from years of experience in schools and classrooms. When Dixie Allen speaks, people listen! As a public servant, it is often easier to capitulate to what is politically expedient. Dixie would never do that. She stands up for what she knows is right.
It is our great pleasure to present Dixie Allen with a UEA Honor Roll Award.
Virginius "Jinks" and Barbara Anne Dabney
(Remarks given by Washington County Education Association President and UEA Board member Kathleen Wagner)
It is my pleasure to introduce to you Jinks and Barbara Dabney as recipients of the UEA Honor Roll Award. Jinks and Barbara, husband and wife, are partners in their St. George, Utah law firm of Dabney and Dabney. They are strong supporters of public education and especially of our public school teachers because of the positive influence of teachers in their own lives and in their own families.
Barbara is a fluent Spanish speaker and volunteers in the English as a Second Language Program in St. George, assisting many Native Americans and Hispanics learn to speak and read and write in English. She has also involved her three daughters to serve in this program. Additionally, Barbara is on the Board of Directors of the Red Rock Center for Independent Living which assists people with disabilities who have special needs to get them through each day.
Jinks has provided legal assistance to many teachers and employees of the Washington County School District as he did when they practiced law in Salt Lake County before they moved to St. George. Right now, he is engaged in challenging the manner and basis for dismissal of the Head Basketball Coach in Hurricane High School and hopes to re-write the “At Will” contracts all Coaches work under in the State of Utah.
Often, rather than billing clients for the legal work they have done, they encourage the client to make a donation to the St. George Exchange Club Foundation, which supports local Junior High and High School students for their outstanding contributions to their schools and provides scholarship support for those achievements. The Foundation also supports the Children’s Justice Center and prints Child Abuse Prevention Flyers for all school children in Washington County. Jinks has been a major player in all of these activities as a 25 year member of the St. George Exchange Club Foundation.
Earlier this year, Jinks and Barbara made a contribution to the St. George Dinosaur Museum which allowed the Museum to purchase a rare replica of a British dinosaur - the first one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and the first full-sized dinosaur for the St. George Museum - called the Scelidosaurus Harrisonii. Later when the Dixie Sun Shiners performed the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new dinosaur, Jinks said: “This dinosaur is for my grand children and for all of the kids in Washington County. You know, it’s not every day you get to buy a dinosaur.” Thousands of kids in Washington County have already been driven and bused to see this new St. George dinosaur.
Most impressive, however, is the personal human rights support we have observed the Dabneys provide to individuals who cannot afford legal service to defend their rights under the law. Hours of donated legal services have been given to the “underdogs,” who otherwise would be run over simply because they did not or could not understand how the law could protect them.
Jinks and Barbara have provided outstanding service to Utah’s educational system in our community in a vaiety of ways, many of which haven’t even been shared with you tonight, and their educational contributions are greatly appreciated. Barbara was unable to attend tonight’s award ceremony because she is attending a Board Meeting of the Red Rock Center, but Jinks flew up this morning to be here to accept the award on his and his wife’s behalf.
(Remarks given by Bonneville UniServ Director Ron Firmage)
JoDee Sundberg has spent most of her adult life in service to her church and community. She served on the Little League Baseball Board for many years while her sons played and her husband coached. She has volunteered her time coaching soccer, girls softball and girls Jr. Jazz basketball as her kids grew-up. JoDee taught health and PE at Orem Elementary for 7 years. In addition, she served in her local schools with PTA and parent advisory groups from 1985 until being elected to the Alpine Board of Education in 1998.
Since then JoDee has been, and continues to be, an outstanding advocate for public education. JoDee has spent the last 25 years of her life dedicated to the students and teachers of the Alpine school District and the state of Utah.
- Current Board Member (Past Board President) Alpine School District
- Committee member - ASD Curriculum Review committee, Public Relations committee, Technology committee, Legislative committee
- Co-chair of the Legislative Committee for Utah School Boards Association/Superintendents Association
- Legislative Lobbyist for Public Education (USBA)
- Committee member on Governor Herbert’s Education Commission
- 2010-11 Vice President Utah School Board Association
- She is currently the 2011-12 President of the State School Board Association.
She has been an ardent defender of public school teachers, and has testified many times on their behalf at the Utah State Legislature. I witness her go face to face on Capitol Hill while defending public school legislation and funding. She continually reaches out to the Public, Alpine Education Association and Bonneville UniServ for input on educational issues.
All that said, I’m sure she would feel her greatest accomplishments are her marriage to her husband Jay of 33 years, her 4 children and 7 grandchildren.
JoDee, thank you for all your dedicated service to Public Education, and congratulations on being nominated as one of the 2011-12 UEA Honor Roll Award winners.
(back to top)