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Getting Involved

Canyons Educator Wins UEA Excellence In Teaching Award

If there’s a door of opportunity available to her students, you’ll find Michelle Van Dyken knocking on it. The Canyons Transitions Academy educator has established a program to help students with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 21 transition from public school student to community member and worker.

As such, Van Dyken often is found knocking businesses’ doors to see if they might provide employment or internships to her students. For her efforts, Van Dyken was honored recently with a 2011 Arch Coal Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award at the Utah Education Association’s annual Superstars in Education banquet.

“(Van Dyken) sees students with autism, Down syndrome or other severe disabilities not as an impaired individual, but as someone who deserves the chance to interact with the world,” writes a co-worker, quoted on the UEA’s Web site.

 “What some people may view as a quick trip to the grocery store or a stop at the library, Michelle sees as an opportunity for her students to become more independent … to learn life skills they will need as they leave the public education system.”

The award, for which Van Dyken was nominated by her peers, comes with a $1,500 check. Ten Utah educators received the awards at the banquet.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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