A rock star fourth-grade teacher in Canyons District will be in the spotlight Monday on the big-hit talk show of the country’s first-ever “American Idol.”
Willow Springs Elementary teacher Marci Cornaby says she plans to dash home from work to watch the Veterans Day edition of “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” on which she’s set to make her national television debut. On the program, after Clarkson belts out “You Look Good” by Lady Antebellum as part of her trademark “Kellyoke,” the Grammy winner will talk to Cornaby about the healthy-lifestyle journey she started when her military husband was deployed.
“She is a doll,” Cornaby says about “The Voice” coach who has sold more than 25 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide. “She is just great — and really friendly.”
The producers of Clarkson’s popular show, which airs on KSL-TV at 3 p.m., sent a private message to Cornaby on social media after a Utah news station aired a story on the educator’s 83-pound weight loss that she unveiled to her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Thomas Cornaby, when he returned from a 10-month deployment to Poland and Germany.
“It was pretty surreal,” Cornaby recalls. “I got a message from one of the (show’s producers) that said they had heard about my story on Twitter and asked me to get back to them. My first thought was, ‘Yeah, right.’ But then I thought, ‘What if this is really ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show?’”
Later that day, the Cornabys were speaking via Skype to Clarkson’s people, who then arranged for them to fly to California to be a part of the pre-recorded Nov. 11 show. Also appearing on Monday’s show will be country star and actor Tim McGraw.
But the real dramatic entrance is when Cornaby shows off the makeover she received at the skillful hands of Clarkson’s glam squad. When she appears, she’s resplendent in an aubergine dress and a sleek hairdo. She and her husband then talk to Clarkson on the set’s plush couch.
“She thanked Tom for his service,” she says. “And she talked about the weight loss. She said, ‘It isn’t easy — I know.’”
So how did she lose the weight? For the most part, Cornaby, now in her eighth year of teaching, changed the way she ate. Chicken, fish and lean hamburger, paired with healthy servings of vegetables, are now staples for meals. She also started working with a health coach, learning and adopting healthy habits, and joining a community that is focused on personal wellness.
The health company Optavia helped Cornaby on her journey. The company says the average weight loss on the Optimal Weight 5 and 1 Plan is 12 pounds, and clients are in weight loss, on average, for 12 weeks.
“As I started losing the weight, I started feeling better and was able to exercise,” she said. When she arrived home after a long day teaching her fourth-graders, Cornaby says, she could take their German shepherd for a walk.
After the segment, the couple was guided to the Green Room, where they found a hand-written note from Clarkson, thanking them for appearing on her show. That memento, plus the photos of the Cornabys on the set with Clarkson, will be cherished by their family, she said.
Clarkson’s singing was as good live as on the radio, says Cornaby, who plans to show the segment to her class later this week. “It is almost better in person,” she says. “It’s not a big stage so it’s very personal.”
Through this experience — the whirlwind trip, the connection she made with the stylists, the kindness shown by Clarkson — Cornaby has become a big Kelly fan. Before, she knew her as the girl who was plucked from obscurity to make it big on a talent show.
“Now,” she says, “I think I will follow her until I die.”