2021 Excellence in Teaching Awards Winner

2021 Excellence in Teaching Awards

Ten Utah Educators Receive Top 2021 Teaching Honors

Ten Utah educators were honored with 2021 UEA/doTERRA Excellence in Teaching Awards. The awards will be presented at the KeyBank Superstars in Education Banquet later this year. Video profiles on each of the 10 winning teachers, produced by PBS-Utah, will be shown at the banquet awards ceremony and are available to view online at pbsutah.org/teachers.

UEA/doTERRA Excellence in Teaching Award recipients for 2021 are (click name to view winner profile and video):

  • Denise Abbott, tenth- through twelfth-grade Medical Anatomy and Physiology Medical Assisting teacher at Timpview High School, Provo School District;
  • Jennifer Barone, pre-school teacher for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind South Region;
  • Alexandra Castellanos Smith, seventh- through ninth-grade Spanish and ESL teacher at Sand Ridge Jr. High School, Weber School District;
  • Rebecca Diamond, sixth-grade teacher at Dry Creek Elementary School, Alpine School District;
  • Theresa James, agricultural science teacher at Monument Valley High School, San Juan School District;
  • Mindy Layton, kindergarten through fifth-grade teacher at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, Granite School District;
  • Heather Reich, sixth-grade teacher at Majestic Elementary School, Jordan School District;
  • Stephanie Ruiz, eighth-grade English teacher and Latinos in Action coordinator at Hillcrest Junior High School, Murray School District;
  • Dari Thacker, fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Silver Summit Elementary School, South Summit School District; and
  • Carla Were, eighth-grade science teacher at Hillside Middle School, Salt Lake City School District.
Award recipients were selected based on their impact on individual students or groups of students. Each winner receives an award, a poster to display at their school and a check for $1,500, courtesy of award sponsor doTERRA…more

About the Awards

Excellence in Teaching Awards are presented each year to 10 Utah public school teachers whose efforts in the classroom have significantly impacted the life of an individual child or group of children. The UEA has presented these awards since 2000.


Nominations are accepted for any licensed educator currently employed in a Utah public school. A selection committee including past award winners will review nominations following the nomination deadline.


Nominations for the 2022 UEA/doTERRA Excellence in Teaching Awards will be open August through November 2021. Nomination information will be available on this site.


Winners are carefully chosen by a selection committee that includes winners from the previous year and are announced in April. The awards are presented at the KeyBank Superstars in Education banquet, typically held in May.


  • Nominee must be a licensed educator who currently works in a Utah public school.
  • Those nominating must use the official online nomination form or complete and mail the printable form.
  • When submitting a paper nomination, please use no more than one additional page stapled to the nomination form.
  • When submitting online, please use 1,000 words or less.
We encourage, support and celebrate nominations that reflect the diversity of Utah’s educators.

If you have questions, please contact:
Mike Kelley, (801) 266-4461, ext. 101, mike.kelley@myUEA.org or
Meg Tanner, 801-417-0231, meg.tanner@myuea.org

Previous Winners

In 2021, 10 educators each received a $1,500 cash award courtesy of doTERRA. The 2021 awards will be presented at the KeyBank Superstars in Education celebration later in 2021.