UEA and doTERRA Present Top Educator Awards
Awards presented at KeyBank Superstars in Education Banquet
As the only licensed educator at Boulder Elementary School in Garfield County School District, Elizabeth Julian is the sole teacher responsible for students in grades kindergarten through six. She keeps the website current weekly, is the school secretary and administrator and handles all finances. Being in a remote frontier community means few agency supports, few school-related services and few educational choices. Yet in Julian’s school there are activities like Salt Lake Children's theater, yoga, creative writing workshops with visiting professors, a school library run by volunteers and consistent core learning to every student.
A colleague described Randall White, science teacher at Valley High School in Jordan School District, as “a geek that likes to share his geekiness in ways that students understand.” Anyone who sees White teach can tell he thinks it’s really cool to do a lab involving Oreos to teach the role chemistry plays in combining cookies and milk. He is able to balance the necessity of learning things perhaps not as fun as Oreo chemistry with a curriculum that makes students willing to listen and to actively participate.
Julian and White are two of the 10 educators honored with 2019 UEA/doTERRA Excellence in Teaching awards during the KeyBank Superstars in Education banquet May 17 at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City. Video profiles on each of the 10 winning teachers, produced by KUED-ch. 7, were shown at the banquet awards ceremony and are available online at kued.org/teachers.
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.
UEA/doTERRA Excellence in Teaching award recipients for 2019 are (click name to view profile):
- Charles Bell, sixth-grade teacher at Granger Elementary School, Granite School District;
- Lori Bullock, resource and English teacher at Pleasant Grove Junior High School, Alpine School District;
- Jeannie Fernandez, librarian at Fossil Ridge Intermediate School, Washington County School District;
- Christa Green, art teacher at Grand County High School, Grand County School District;
- Peter Haslam, fifth-grade Teacher at Wasatch Elementary School, Salt Lake City School District;
- Elizabeth Julian, kindergarten through sixth-grade Teacher at Boulder Elementary School, Garfield County School District;
- Jon Lindberg, life skills Teacher at Lehi Junior High School, Alpine School District;
- Gregg Smith, history teacher at Maple Mountain High School, Nebo School District;
- Laura Taylor, history teacher at Riverton High School, Jordan School District; and
- Randall White, science teacher at Valley High School, Jordan School District.
The UEA has presented Excellence in Teaching awards since 2000. KeyBank has sponsored the banquet since 2012.
“The UEA is honored to recognize these outstanding educators,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews. “They are shining examples of the great work happening in our public schools each day.”
“We are privileged to support the Utah Education Association as it honors our state’s educators,” said Terry Grant, 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, three additional awards will be presented:
- 2019 UEA Honor Roll Award to Kass Harstad, employment attorney and partner at Strindberg & Scholnick;
- Charles E. Bennett UEA Human and Civil Rights Award to Melanie Moffat and Anna Williams, teachers at Park City High School; and
- Elaine Tzourtzouklis Service to Association Award to Ryan Anderson, former Grand County School District teacher and NEA Board Director from Utah and current UEA-Retired vice president.
Award Winner Profiles
Sixth-Grade Teacher at Granger Elementary School, Granite School District
With more than 24 years of teaching under his belt, Charlie Bell is a well-seasoned educator with a strong inner commitment to investing in the students in his care. “Recognizing the unique challenges facing a student population in a high-poverty high-immigrant area, Bell specifically crafts his curriculum to invite students to participate in self-actualization exercises,” wrote a colleague. “Mr. Bell’s innate capacity to create authentic and supportive relationships with his students is a hallmark of his passion for teaching.”
In addition to Bell’s dedication to building deep bonds with his students, he has single-handedly spearheaded the Granger Elementary School Safety Patrol in conjunction with the American Automobile Association. Safety Patrol student volunteers are identified and trained by Bell to increase school safety especially with regards to the many pedestrians at drop-off and pick-up in the school’s busy parking lot. With this program Bell “invests himself wholly, teaching the Safety Patrol students not only to help manage pedestrians in traffic but more importantly leveraging the Safety Patrol as an opportunity to encourage peer-to-peer dialogues, leadership skills and character building.”
Resource and English Teacher at Pleasant Grove Junior High School, Alpine School District
Not only does Lori Bullock manage the case files of some 50+ resource students, she constantly hunts for new ways to help this population find success. Students make life-changing progress under her rigorous, nurturing tutelage. With Lori’s support, resource readers are rising to honors-level work and thriving in an environment of trust and high-expectations.
According to a co-worker, Bullock has “rescued the Viking Spirit at our school.” Recognizing that the student council was struggling, she volunteered to take on the challenge of mentoring this group of student leaders. The school now has a Spirit Club where students participate in friendly monthly competitions; students flock to join assemblies and activities like Viking Voice and Viking Idol; and students proudly wear specially designed t-shirts to athletic events and on Viking Pride Fridays.
Bullock also monitors a program where students participate in a wide assortment of enrichment activities to earn “points” along the Viking path of excellence. Students advance through levels to become Ultimate Viking Warriors at the year’s end. All participants proudly receive a new Viking name and the end-of-year warrior T-shirts are coveted prizes at the school.
Librarian at Fossil Ridge Intermediate School, Washington County School District
First and foremost, Jeannie Fernandez is a champion for the students. Although her title is librarian, she plans and prepares just like any other teacher. Students don’t just spend their library time checking out books; each week students are given a lesson in the library. Fernandez works closely with the faculty and keeps up on the pacing of lessons as well as knowing the curriculum of each subject. She teaches the kids valuable skills like vocabulary roots, poetry, internet safety, finding credible sources, how to cite works and how to write a research paper. She corrects the papers for all 950 students, including revisions.
The yearly reading contest has become a tradition at the school. Fernandez chooses a new theme each year tying it in to a current event. Students read carefully selected award-winning middle level books. Students get prizes for reading those books and can even earn a field trip.
A fellow faculty member noted, “teachers at our school only have to mention a topic that their class is pursuing, and a set of resources magically appear in their classroom.”
Art Teacher at Grand County High School, Grand County School District
Over the years, Christa Green’s students have consistently produced high-quality artwork. She works hard to get public recognition for her students’ by helping them set up gallery showings and publishing a calendar and a coloring book that contain their artwork.
In an effort to expose her students to great works of art, Green organized a Humanities Club. A main purpose of the club is to facilitate a field trip to Los Angeles to see artwork from around the world in area museums. Green helps students organize fundraisers and arranges for the students to have a booth at a local Christmas craft fair. This allows students to use their art skills as well as help finance their trip.
In addition to her work in the classroom, Green is currently a mentor to two new teachers. “Your first year is always hard and having someone looking out for you is invaluable,” wrote a colleague. “Christa makes sure [her mentees] are progressing in their licensing issues helping them understand the unwritten structure and culture of the school and in general looking out for their well-being.”
Fifth-Grade Teacher at Wasatch Elementary School, Salt Lake City School District
Known to his students as ‘Mr. H,' Peter Haslam expects every student to show responsibility and to respect their classmates and school. He uses his 'Haslam Bucks' currency system to teach students fiscal responsibility and community respect. Students complete job applications get paid ‘wages’ for performing classroom jobs and risk fines for poor behavior.
Last year, Haslam's class created a play based on the book 'She Persisted,' with a focus on the contributions of women throughout history. The entire school had the opportunity to learn more about pioneering women and their legacies throughout history. The play had a big impact on many in the audience, students and adults alike.
A parent shared this story: “When she first started fifth grade, my daughter was feeling like a failure when it came to math. She was often overwhelmed and frustrated which led to test anxiety. Mr. H took extra time to help determine where she was struggling and helped her better understand the processes involved with each equation. It was as if he gave her pieces of a puzzle that she was finally able to put together.”
Kindergarten through Sixth-Grade Teacher at Boulder Elementary School, Garfield County School District
As the only licensed educator in her school, Elizabeth Julian is the sole teacher responsible for creating, implementing and analyzing all the curriculum for students in grades kindergarten through six. She keeps the website current weekly, is the school secretary and administrator and handles all finances.
Being in a remote frontier community means few agency supports, few school-related services and few educational choices. Yet in Julian’s school there are activities like Salt Lake Children's theater, yoga, creative writing workshops with visiting professors, a school library run by volunteers and consistent educational learning for every student.
Her students are her passion. Julian has built strong relationships with parents and the community. She has found housing and jobs for parents and has established herself as a trusted advocate. A fellow Garfield School District teacher wrote: “I have watched [Julian] empower parents to help their children, not only in academics but in parenting and dealing with situations of inconsistent housing and employment. She does it with style and grace – never as an authority, but as a discrete support.”
Life Skills Teacher at Lehi Junior High School, Alpine School District
As a life skills (special education) teacher, Jon Lindberg's classroom is the place to be and all the kids know it. He’s positive, optimistic and 100% dedicated to the success of his special kids.
A parent wrote: “Our son has autism and seizure disorder…Several weeks ago, on a particularly rough day with several seizures at school, including one so severe it caused Charlie to throw up all over the classroom floor, Lindberg and I were texting back and forth. Charlie was begging to stay in class despite the seizures. I offered to come get him and Lindberg gave me the choice to let him stay if we were okay with it. I was shocked…His text to me that day once again reinforced what an amazing perspective he has on teaching. He wrote: ‘Just an FYI, I’m a firm believer in kids learning that regardless of what personal problems we have in life, we need to learn to accept them and to keep pressing forward. Seizures are a part of his life he and we will have to learn to work with them.’ What an amazing life skill he taught me that day.”
History Teacher at Maple Mountain High School, Nebo School District
Gregg Smith has dedicated his entire adult life to the students he serves. This is apparent in the appreciation and affection that generations of students have for him, even decades after he was their teacher in school. He makes history come alive as he is a quintessential storyteller.
A quiet student in Smith’s class struggled with academics and peers. This student loved adventure much more than school. Smith invited him to become part of his ‘lunch bunch,’ a lunch-time gathering for at-risk students. Later in the year, Smith announced his annual plan for taking students on a summer survival trip into the Escalante desert (a program Smith ran for ten years). The quiet student was excited about the program but unsure. Smith encouraged him and even sponsored him to go. The trip changed the young man's life. The challenge built his confidence and self-esteem. He became a role model to many other teens and even helped with other groups. Just after graduation a tragic accident took this student’s life. His parents asked Smith to speak at the funeral because of the great influence he had on their son’s life.
History Teacher at Riverton High School, Jordan School District
Laura Taylor doesn’t teach history, she engages her students in learning, analyzing, writing about and interpreting history. They begin the school year with a blank notebook, pens, scissors and tape. They end the year with a book filled with lecture notes, pictures, graphs, maps and the ideas that moved humanity to build, destroy and rebuild civilizations over the millennia of human history.
Taylor’s classroom itself is a visual history book. Abraham Lincoln, dignified in his school spirit scarf and top hat, stands at the front of the room. Across from him hangs an image of Eleanor Roosevelt, exemplifying to students that service, intelligence and grit are required of those who enjoy abundance.
Taylor teaches the school’s Peer Leadership Training (PLT) class. She helps her students write historical plays and plan lessons, then arranges elementary school visits where her students teach peer pressure coping skills. Perhaps the most important leadership activity Taylor’s PLT students do is work with the severely disabled children at the Kauri Sue Hamilton School. A student said the service “helps us get in touch with our own empathy, something Mrs. Taylor teaches us.”
Science Teacher at Valley High School, Jordan School District
A colleague described Randall White as “a geek that likes to share his geekiness in ways that students understand. Sometimes I think students think he is kooky, but he is having fun being a teacher and that rubs off on the students.”
Anyone who sees White teach can tell he thinks it’s really cool to do a lab involving Oreos to teach the role chemistry plays in combining cookies and milk. He is able to balance the necessity of learning about things that might not be as fun as Oreo chemistry with a curriculum that makes students willing to listen and actively participate.
Valley High is an alternative high school. The school offers opportunities on Fridays for students to earn recovery credit. Teachers design units that combine focused classroom instruction, hands-on learning and enrichment activities. Some of White’s units have included crime scene investigation, extreme weather and water conservation landscaping. The students who sign up for these units have already failed a science class, so they are not often overly excited, but they always comment about how much they learned after the activity.
Charles E. Bennett Human and Civil Rights Award
Melanie Moffat and Anna Williams
(Nomination comments by Renee Pinkney)
A July 27, 2018 Park Record article describes the ‘Dream Big’ program started by Melanie Moffat to provide an intense summer program for first-generation college students interested in taking Advanced Placement courses. The partnership with English teacher and Latinos in Action advisor Anna Williams has opened the door for more than 70 students to receive the support they need to be successful in AP classes.
Many students participating in ‘Dream Big’ are bilingual, speaking Spanish in their homes, and all would be the first in their families to attend college.
Dream Big is a rigorous summer program helping Latinx students build confidence and skills to take on the challenges of AP courses. In just two years, participation in AP courses at Park City High school has begun to reflect the diversity of the school.
Melanie and Anna work their hearts out for the students. Their impact in the classroom and with this program is felt throughout the community. As Anna states in the article, Dream Big “is a wonderful opportunity for our first-gen students to have a place at the table.”
What is often referred to as an ‘achievement gap’ is in reality much more of an opportunity gap. Anna and Melanie are so deserving of this award to honor their commitment to equity and opportunity for all students to ‘Dream Big’ for their future as first-generation college students.
UEA Honor Roll Award
(Nomination comments by Tracey Watson)
All the attorneys at Strindberg & Scholnick, but specifically Kass Harstad, have performed above and beyond the call of duty in representing UEA members’ professional and legal rights.
Kass has led the way in filing and settling litigation against the Utah State Board of Education; in defending groups and individuals in complex and protracted grievances; in representing individual educator members in license discipline hearings; in representing the association at public hearings before the State Board of Education and in assisting the UEA General Counsel in providing sound legal advice to the UEA Board, president, executive director and members.
Kass truly and sincerely cares about UEA members’ rights. She is a fierce advocate and experienced, professional litigator of the highest integrity. She is also compassionate and caring and fun to work with. Kass and the law firm of Strindberg and Schonick have provided outstanding legal services and legal advice to the Association, the UniServ Directors and individual UEA members. Kass is UEA's legal guardian angel.
Elaine Tzourtzouklis Service to Association Award
(Nomination comments by Alanna Simmons-Cameron, read at the banquet by Hank Postma)
Renowned for lesson planning while river rafting, matching his outfits to his lessons and weaving intricate stories that somehow connected to teaching standards, Ryan Anderson is a legend in his rural county. His long white beard and halo of white hair has caused people to liken Ryan to a Kris Kringle, a Gandalf and a Moses rolled into one. Yet it is the playful twinkle in his eye - tempered by a keen intelligence, social savvy and love of people - that has made Ryan so influential with students, parents, fellow educators, union leaders and state legislators.
Ryan has a storied career both in the classroom and with the union. He represented Utah as a NEA Director for eight years. As part of the Utah delegation, Ryan worked to lobby our congressional delegation and build relationships with representatives and their staff. Ryan has built relationships with many of Utah’s state representatives which he has used to support bills that benefit our teachers and students.
In addition to his state and national work, he was a hands-on leader at the local level. Ryan served on several occasions as a member on the district negotiations team, a local president and a UniServ president. He has chosen to invest his golden years in continued service to his profession. He is currently serving a term as the UEA-Retired vice president and represents the High Desert UniServ on UEA-PAC.
Ryan believes in the power of education, educators and knowledge to transform lives. He has applied that belief to four decades of service in the union and to support educators. All of this is because, when it comes down to it, he just loves students and teachers. Even those he hasn’t met.