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Ten Educators Receive Top Teaching Honors at 'Superstars in Education' Banquet

Award recipients were selected based on their impact on individual students or groups of students.
15 people stand together in dresses and suits holding trophies and smiling.

Andrew Arnold defied the odds and overcame a spinal cord injury that left him initially unable to walk. Now, he leans on his grit and perseverance to inspire students in a thriving band program at Shoreline Junior High School in the Davis School District. He actively supports his students, ensuring they all have access to instruments regardless of their financial circumstances.

During a difficult time for public school libraries, Lara Rude’s coworkers say the library media specialist promotes a love for reading and literacy that influences the entire school community at Ecker Hill Middle School in the Park City School District. Rude initiated a “One Book, One School” program where all students read and discuss the same story. She also arranges for authors to visit the school, fostering a deep connection between students and reading.

Each year, special education teacher Rebecca Ford hosts an annual pageant that brings together students from Tooele High School and two others to celebrate students and raise money for field trips, dances, and other activities. She has developed a thriving peer tutoring program that has increased the number of participants from eight to more than 100.

Arnold, Rude and Ford are three of the ten educators honored with 2023 UEA/Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation Excellence in Teaching awards during the KeyBank Superstars in Education banquet on June 13.

Award recipients were selected based on their impact on individual students or groups of students. Each winner receives a crystal trophy and a check for $1,500, courtesy of award sponsor Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation.

UEA/Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation Excellence in Teaching award recipients for 2023 are:

  • Emma Walton, Foothill Elementary School; Alpine School District
  • Andrew Arnold, Shoreline Junior High School; Davis School District
  • Bridgit Grimm, Cleveland Elementary School; Emery School District
  • Sharon Hall, The Christmas Box House YESS Program; Granite School District
  • Elizabeth “Buffy” Blunck, Riverton High School; Jordan School District
  • Lara Rude, Ecker Hill Middle School; Park City School District
  • Sarah Machol, Wasatch Elementary School; Salt Lake School District
  • Rebecca Ford, Tooele High School; Tooele School District
  • Jami Lang, Green Acres Elementary; Weber School District
  • Tanya Hunt, Two Rivers High School/Horizon Academy; Weber School District

“UEA is honored to pay tribute to 10 outstanding teachers and community members who have demonstrated unwavering support for public education and the students of Utah,” said UEA President Renee Pinkney. “They have gone above and beyond, profoundly impacting the lives of those they serve.”

UEA has presented more than 200 Excellence in Teaching awards since 2000.

UEA also honored the following admirable individuals who have positively impacted education and our Association:

  • Connie Crosby, McKinney-Vento Liaison for the Canyons School District: The Robert “Archie” Archuleta Human and Civil Rights Award. This award is presented to an individual who has engaged in human and civil rights activities that have benefited education and had a community-wide impact. Connie will receive $1,500 and an award plaque. 

  • Roz Van Vleet, Davis Education Association: The Elaine Tzourtzouklis Service to Association Award. This award honors an individual who has provided outstanding service to the Association in member advocacy, political action, leadership, collaboration and/or coalition building. Roz will receive $1,500 and an award plaque in her honor.

  • Karthik Nadesen, Attorney at Nedesen Beck: The UEA Honor Roll Award. This award recognizes individuals, businesses or organizations significantly contributing to public education. No monetary award is given as sometimes these are public servants or corporations. However, Karthik will be recognized with a plaque as with the other award recipients during the banquet.

  • Lara Rude, Park City Education AssociationUEA Nominee for the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence. In addition to being recognized as one of the UEA Excellence in Teaching award recipients, Lara has also been nominated for the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence. She will also be honored at the NEA Foundation Gala in Washington, DC in 2024.


Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

With more than 18,000 members across the state, UEA supports equal opportunities for success for ALL Utah students, and respect and support for all educators.