But Beninati isn’t paid for her wo rk at Lone Peak Elementary, where she’s headed the 61-student, before-school orchestra for the past three years. She volunteers as a music instructor because she’s dedicated to the betterment of children and the belief that music helps students in other subjects.
Plus, it’s fun, says Beninati, who has a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Colorado and taught music while living in Texas. “You have to make it fun” for the students, the majority of whom haven’t ever touched an instrument before joining her Monday-through-Thursday orchestra. “If you don’t make it fun, you will lose them,” she says.
For her efforts, she was rewarded with a $10,000 check and a prestigious Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education. She's the sole Utah school volunteer to receive the recognition, which also was received by 10 teachers. Beninati and other Huntsman honorees were feted at a banquet in May.
Said Principal McKay Robinson in nominating Beninati for the award: "Without Debbie being so willing to spend countless hours with the students of Lone Peak, our music program would not exist."
Beninati was thoroughly surprised when she was told she’d won the award, which was announced in front of her orchestra students. “It was pure disbelief; I thought that there had surely been an error,” she said. “It was a proud moment. I was proud the kids got to be there.”
What's she going to do with the money? She doesn’t know. In fact, she didn’t even know there was a cash prize associated with the award. Maybe she'll go to Hawaii, she says. Maybe she’ll sock it away in a college fund for her children. Or, she says, maybe it will help pay for prosthetics for her daughter, Anna, who lost her legs while trying to hop a train in Colorado in 2011.
Or maybe, she says, with a smile, she'll invest in Lone Peak's music program.
David Duffin, who will serve as the PTSA Student Club President at Alta High in the coming school year, and Ashley Edwards, who will hold the Student Club president’s post at Corner Canyon High, received the awards last month.
Both Duffin and Edwards served on the Alta PTSA Student Club and the Utah PTA Student Board last year. The Region 17 PTA, which serves Canyons District, was the sole region to have multiple award winners this year.
This year, thanks to her students, Housley’s efforts have been recognized by the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, which named her the 2012-2013 Utah Adviser of the year. As a family and consumer sciences teacher, she has worked as an adviser for the Jordan High chapter of the FCCLA for the last six years, organizing extra-curricular service projects and encouraging her students to become involved with the community. Her students nominated her for the award.
“It makes me feel like what I’m doing is making a difference,” Housley said of her recognition.
The service projects Housley has helped spearhead have also made a difference. This year her students donated lollipops to the Festival of Trees to be sold as a fundraiser for Primary Children’s Hospital. They also sewed and donated quilts to the hospital.
“I really enjoy seeing the students being engaged in the activities we do,” Housley says. “It’s a great thing for students to learn to take a stand, whether it’s in school, or in their neighborhood or in their home.”
To laud those quick actions, Canyons District’s Nursing Services Department has awarded its first-ever CSD Above and Beyond Award to the school’s faculty and education support professionals. Midvale employees received the award, the nurses said, “for their quick and appropriate” responses on that day. The nurses plan to make it an annual award for school staff and faculty who go above and beyond in promoting student health and safety.
See our Facebook page to see photos of Midvale staff and faculty receiving the award on May 31, 2013.
The sale will be from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 15, 2013 at the Cottonwood Heights school.
Cash or credit cards accepted. All items for sale will be in the cafeteria. All sales are final.
The school will be torn down this summer to make way for the new Butler Middle School, which has been under construction behind the old school for two years. The new school is funded by proceeds from a bond approved by the public in spring 2010 for new and renovated schools.
Questions? Call 801-826-5391.