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Arch Coal Foundation, UEA Name 2012 Top Educators and Public Education Advocates

Awards presented at KeyBank Superstars in Education Banquet

Because of their cognitive disabilities, most of Schipper Clawson’s students at Oak Springs School, on the campus of the Utah State Hospital, have experienced failure after failure in school, both academically and socially. Clawson goes to great lengths to find something positive each student entering his class can do and builds on it. Students that have been a challenge in prior classroom settings begin to understand that they can do something positive and rewarding.

Teachers who work with Anna Williams at Park City High School were not surprised she was selected to serve as chair of the UEA’s Educational Excellence Task Force, convened to look at teacher quality in Utah and develop recommendations. As one co-worker put it, “As cliché as it may sound, Anna Williams is the epitome of excellence in education.” Whether she is inspiring students to speak up for themselves or meeting with parents to educate them on available services, Williams has a reputation for being fiercely on the side of integrity and humanity.

The minute you walk into Daniel Harnsberger’s history classroom at Horizonte School in Salt Lake City, you are mesmerized by the excitement. The materials he uses are relevant to the students’ lives. He brings to life sports figures, civil rights activists, politicians, religions, the lives of young people in other countries…and connects all of this to the core curriculum of history and language arts.

Clawson, Williams and Harnsberger are three of 10 educators honored with 2012 Arch Coal Foundation Excellence in Teaching awards during the KeyBank Superstars in Education banquet Oct. 18 at Noah’s in South Jordan. The guest speaker for the banquet was University of Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill. Lt. Governor Greg Bell, UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh and Skyline Mine General Manager Wess Sorensen, representing Arch Coal, presented the awards.

Award recipients were nominated by their peers and selected 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 2012 are:

  • Melissa Atwood, math teacher at Woods Cross High School, Davis School District;
  • Beckey Carson, special education teacher at Granger High School, Granite School District;
  • William “Schipper” Clawson, self-contained elementary teacher at Oak Springs School, Provo City School District;
  • Robyn Esplin, third-grade teacher at Garland Elementary School, Box Elder School District;
  • Daniel Harnsberger, history and language arts teacher at Horizonte School, Salt Lake City School District;
  • Donna Hunter, English teacher at Herriman High School, Jordan School District;
  • Andrea Jill Krogue, Kindergarten teacher at Columbia Elementary, Jordan School District;
  • Kristin Snow, sixth-grade science teacher at Fossil Ridge Intermediate School, Washington County School District;
  • LuAnn Sorensen, special education preschool teacher at Ferron Elementary School, Emery County School District; and
  • Anna Martinez Williams, ESL teacher and instructional coach at Park City High School, Park City School District.

The UEA has sponsored the Excellence in Teaching awards since 2000. This is the Arch Coal Foundation’s second year as title sponsor for the awards. It is KeyBank’s first year to sponsor the banquet.

“The UEA is honored to recognize 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 KeyBank and 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.”

“Arch Coal knows teachers are one of our communities’ most valuable resources, and that’s why the Arch Coal Foundation is proud to sponsor statewide and local programs that recognize great educators,” said John Eaves, president and CEO of Arch Coal, Inc. “The Excellence in Teaching awards help us honor teachers across the state, in addition to continuing our annual teacher recognition program in Carbon, Emery, Sanpete and Sevier counties.”

“We are privileged to support the Utah Education Association as it honors our state’s educators,” said Jill Taylor, President of KeyBank in Utah. “These exceptional teachers comprise a vital part of our communities by ensuring our children receive quality educations. Quality education helps our communities thrive and thriving communities benefit all of us.”

In addition to recognizing the state’s outstanding educators, the UEA presented Honor Roll awards to the following:

  • Arch Coal, for demonstrated commitment to Utah teachers through its annual Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards program, and sponsorship of the UEA Excellence in Teaching awards; and support of several programs for Utah’s schools and youth.
  • Senator Aaron Osmond, for his professional approach and collaboration with teachers in drafting public education employment reform during the 2012 General Legislative Session.

A Charles E. Bennett Human and Civil Rights Award was also presented to Dr. Forrest Crawford, Weber State University assistant to the president for diversity. Crawford was honored for his work with Davis County schools to provide “positive, life-changing experiences” for students.


Award Winner Profiles


Melissa Atwood

Math teacher at Woods Cross High School in Davis County School District

Melissa Atwood teaches some of the lowest-performing math students in her school. Each of her classes is filled with 35 to 40 kids who struggle with math. Despite these challenges, she maintains high expectation and rigorous standards. Using games, cooperative learning and a variety of innovative strategies, she is able to help each student succeed.
“At one point, when I thought there was no reason to come to school because I was so far behind, she called my house and convinced me there was still hope,” said one student. “I honestly believe I would not have graduated without Mrs. Atwood.”

Atwood provides practical applications for geometry principles…celebrating the first snowfall by having students cut snowflakes or observing the coming of spring by creating kites. She takes advantage of cross-curricular opportunities. For example, when the World Civilizations teacher was discussing Islam and Islamic art, Atwood came into the class with compasses, instructions and examples, showing students how Islamic art is based on geometry and helping them create examples of their own.


Beckey Carson

Special education teacher at Granger High School in Granite School District

A colleague shared the following story about Beckey Carson: “It was picture day at Granger High (when) I noticed a sound coming from the orchestra pit in the auditorium. I looked under the stage to see a frightened young girl who refused to come out so I could find out what was wrong…I knew she must be one of Beckey’s kids. I went to get Beckey and indeed an aide had taken them to the auditorium to get pictures and lost (the girl). I had tried cajoling, persuading, encouraging and empathizing with the student before I went for Beckey. It took her only a word to bring the child out from under the stage and get her back to her classroom.”

Despite serious health challenges, nothing dampens Carson’s spirits or her motivation to be the best she can be in the classroom. She never misses an opportunity to find new ways to teach her special needs students the important life skills they need to survive and thrive.


William “Schipper” Clawson

Self-contained elementary teacher at Oak Springs School in Provo City School District

Oak Springs School is located on the campus of the Utah State Hospital. Students there are receiving inpatient mental health treatment in the most restrictive educational setting offered by the state.

Due to their mental illness, most of Schipper Clawson’s students have not had a very good experience in the public education system and have experienced failure after failure, both academically and socially. Clawson goes to great lengths to find something positive each student entering his class can do and builds on it. Students that have been a challenge in prior classroom settings begin to understand that they can do something positive and rewarding.

Clawson teaches, models and acknowledges appropriate social skills with creativity, love and extreme patience. When students reach maximum therapeutic advantage and transition back to regular public schools, they go with a feeling of self-worth and confidence that was not there before, thanks in large part to experiences provided by Mr. Clawson.


Robyn Esplin

Third-grade teacher at Garland Elementary School in Box Elder School District

“She has a talent for bringing out the good in people,” wrote a colleague about Robyn Esplin. “When you converse with her, she puts you at ease and makes you feel like the better person…She is a great master teacher, always willing to serve, share and advocate for what is best for the children.”

A short observation of Esplin’s teaching makes it clear that she loves what she does and she loves her students…and they know it. Esplin has also become a very successful grant writer, securing money that has transformed the school library, classrooms and the entire school.

As the school’s instructional coach, she brings wisdom to the faculty’s collaboration efforts. A fellow educator says that under Esplin’s direction, “I have watched this team grow, change, succeed and create a synergy that is hard to duplicate.”


Daniel Harnsberger

History and language arts teacher at Horizonte School in Salt Lake City School District

Walking into Daniel Harnsberger’s history classroom is a must for anyone who wants to see what public schools offer students. The minute you enter, you are mesmerized by the excitement in the room. The materials he uses are relevant to the students’ lives. He brings to life sports figures, civil rights activists, politicians, religions, the lives of young people in other countries…and connects all of this to the core curriculum of history and language arts.

After graduating, a former student of Harnsberger’s wrote, “I still remember that my main goal was just to finish high school, but with your help I now have many goals…not only to graduate, but to attend college. I am thankful to have an incredible mentor like yourself. You are someone I will never forget in my life. You are a big inspiration to me. Your legacy as an incredible teacher will continue to be remembered through all your students at Horizonte.”


Donna Hunter

English teacher at Herriman High School in Jordan School District

A National Board Certified teacher, Donna Hunter is truly loved by her students and she serves them in many capacities. To encourage students to read more, she developed a science fiction/fantasy curriculum. She sponsors “Mustangs Making a Difference,” the school service organization.

Hunter also developed the “Herriman Institute for Teachers,” which assists teachers new to the school and helps them get acclimated so they can hit the ground running. She sees that each new teacher is assigned a mentor and personally visits their classrooms to watch them teach…all in the name of making a difference in the quality of education.

And she doesn’t just do this for those new to the profession. She does it for all new teachers to Herriman High. “Last year was my 26th year in education, but Donna still came and watched me teach,” wrote a fellow teacher who recently transferred to the school. “She also made me glad to come to work every day by making me feel like a valued professional in every interaction.”


Andrea Jill Krogue

Kindergarten teacher at Columbia Elementary in Jordan School District

Jill Krogue opens doors to help her students see the world differently and feel safe. One student in particular was having a rough start to the school year. Krogue took time to have the student come in before the rest of the class to show him a special spot that he could go when feeling unsure or scared. In the beginning, the student needed the special time out several times a day. However, with Krogue’s encouragement, he was soon able to spend the entire day with the rest of the students.

The school community adores Krogue because she reaches out to them by making personal contact with each parent. She tutors parents on how they can help their students at home with behavior and skill development.
Under her watchful eye, students feel better about themselves by smiling and walking more confidently. More than once Krogue has been overheard telling a student, “The way you walk says something about you. I know you are great, now walk like someone who is great.”


Kristin Snow

Sixth grade science teacher at Fossil Ridge Intermediate School in Washington County School District

The percentage of Kristin Snow’s students scoring proficient in science went from 69 percent in 2009, to 87 percent in 2010 to 93 percent in 2011. In 2012, she had the highest progress score of all the teachers in her school. A co-worker attributes this success to her developing “a dynamic science program to fit the needs of all the students in her classroom, regardless of their abilities or limitation. She goes the extra mile to make learning fun, while ensuring that all students are able to find success.”

One student, Maria, came to Kristin Snow’s science class from Mexico not knowing any English. Snow took the time to get science vocabulary and handouts they would be using in the class translated to Spanish so Maria could better understand the science lessons. Maria excelled and received a high score on her end-of-level science test. When informed about her score, Maria said that in Mexico she didn’t like science, but with Snow “science is fun and funny.”


LuAnn Sorensen

Special education preschool teacher at Ferron Elementary School in Emery County School District

LuAnn Sorensen is a stickler for data-driven instruction. She does an in-depth evaluation and writes specific, measurable goals for every one of her students. The activities and targeted instruction that goes into each of the nine preschool classrooms in five different locations by the 14 teaching assistants supervised by Sorensen is highly interactive, engaging and effectively meets the needs of each student.

“What (Sorensen) does for preschool kids in our district is truly amazing,” writes a fellow teacher. “She is often the first professional person parents encounter when discovering their child has a disability. This (can be) a difficult, hurtful time for parents and some respond by wanting to lash out at whoever is close by. She has a natural calming influence on parents. They always leave her meetings feeling like things will be okay and their child now has a strong advocate who will be able to handle any problems that may come up.”


Anna Martinez Williams

ESL teacher and instructional coach at Park City High School in Park City School District

Teachers who work with Anna Williams were not surprised she was selected to serve as chair of the UEA’s Educational Excellence Task Force, convened to look at teacher quality in Utah and develop recommendations. As one co-worker put it, “As cliché as it may sound, Anna Williams is the epitome of excellence in education.”

Whether she is inspiring students to speak up for themselves or meeting with parents to educate them on services that they deserve, Williams has a reputation among the students for being fiercely on the side of integrity and humanity.

“As a colleague, I marvel at her skills in the classroom,” says a fellow faculty member. “Anna teaches the whole student. It is well known that a troubled student who enters her Content Link class will be reformed by the end of their 10th-grade year. In her class, students quickly learn that they are valued and valuable and they can’t help but rise to Anna’s expectations.”


Charles E. Bennett Human and Civil Rights Award


Dr. Forrest Crawford

Assistant to the president for diversity at Weber State University
(Remarks given by Cassie Cox, English teacher at Two Rivers High School in Weber School District)

In recent years, Dr. Forrest Crawford, with support from Weber State University, has invested time and money into providing positive, life-changing experiences for the students at Two Rivers High School in Weber School District.

Two Rivers High School is an alternative school for students who struggle in traditional high school settings. These students will be citizens who impact our communities after graduation—either positively or negatively—and Dr. Crawford has played a key role in building stronger communities, beginning with the students in my school.

Three years ago, Dr. Crawford visited Two Rivers HS to deliver part of WSU’s Frederick Douglass Lecture Series directly to my students.  Following his visit, one student, Taegen Mendoza, wrote in a journal that Dr. Crawford had taught her the most important lesson of her life—that of knowing, caring and acting. Taegen wrote about lessons teachers had delivered to her for years finally coming together after only one hour with Dr. Crawford.  His words gave a lifetime of lessons real meaning.

The following year, Dr. Crawford worked to bring the most well-known of the Little Rock Nine, Elizabeth Eckford, to Two Rivers High school and to our community. For years students had read about and written about Eckford and the crisis at Central High in 1956.  Dr. Crawford helped lift this pivotal moment in history out of the textbook by flying Elizabeth Eckford to Utah last February. Tears streaming, Eckford encouraged my students to invest in themselves and to stay in school and she reminded us all not to get stuck in stupid. Eckford also urged students and community members to be upstanders, not bystanders.

Immediately following this event, Dr. Crawford began working to create a similar experience for my students this school year.  On February 6 and 7, Simeon Wright, Emmett Till’s cousin, will visit Two Rivers High School and Weber State University. Thanks to Dr. Crawford’s devotion to excellence in education at WSU and at Two Rivers High School, lives are changed—and saved—every day.

Dr. Crawford’s list of accomplishments and efforts could fill a 500-page book, and tonight, we’re honored to recognize him for his contributions to Two Rivers High School and to the entire community as he works to support the teaching and learning of human and civil rights.


UEA “Honor Roll” Awards


Arch Coal

(Remarks given by UEA Executive Director Mark Mickelsen)

Arch Coal, through the Arch Coal Foundation, has been honoring Utah teachers with Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards for the past six years. Five teachers each year in Carbon, Emery, Sanpete and Sevier counties are given $3,500 personal cash awards, for a total of $105,000 given to teachers through the program so far.

In 2011, the UEA unexpectedly lost a long-time sponsor for its Excellence in Teaching awards. Financial concerns on the part of the sponsor had previously reduced the award from $1,500 per winner to $1,000. With continuation of the recognition program in jeopardy, Arch Coal was approached at the last minute to assist. Recognizing the importance of this statewide honor for teachers, Arch Coal not only quickly picked up the sponsorship, but they also insisted on returning the award to its original $1,500 per teacher level.

The Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher recognition or grants programs in Wyoming, West Virginia and Colorado, as well as a number of other education-related causes.

Arch Coal, Inc. has demonstrated its commitment to public education and to Utah teachers through its ongoing efforts and truly exemplifies the statement that ‘education excellence is everyone’s responsibility.’


Utah State Senator Aaron Osmond

(Remarks given by UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh)

In his freshman year at the legislature, Senator Aaron Osmond did a remarkable thing. He listened. After agreeing to sponsor legislation, which many teachers felt would have been devastating, he pulled back and went on the road.

He listened to literally hundreds of educators, superintendents, administrators, parents and board members. What followed was exceptional. He posted on the USOE blog what he called “lessons learned,” describing what he heard and his planned next steps. His actions were remarkable and unprecedented.

Senator Osmond convened the stakeholders, including the UEA, to engage in conversations surrounding public education employment reform. The culmination of this work was landmark legislation that respected the teacher as the expert in the classroom and elevated the teaching profession.

Senator Osmond, in collaboration with the UEA president, presented this bill at the NEA Republican Leaders Conference in Washington, DC, as well as at the National Conference of State Legislators in Chicago. His message was simple…legislators must listen, collaborate and cooperate.

Senator Osmond continues to involve teachers in decisions that will affect their students and classrooms. He is continually seeking feedback on his bills from his constituents and those who would be impacted by the legislation. He is a shining example of a model legislator and statesman.
 

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