A student and teacher at Hillcrest High have been awarded the highest honors in the state in recognition of their courage to face life’s challenges.
JoAnn Plant, a special education teacher who works with students with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome, and Peter Conder, a senior at Hillcrest, were chosen as Educator of the Year and Student of the Year, respectively, at the recent statewide 2014 Family Links Conference.
The statewide conference is a collaborative effort of the Utah Parent Center, Utah Developmental Disabilities Council, the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities, and Utah Family Voices as a means of supporting parents and families of children and adults with disabilities and special needs.
Plant is known for her ability to communicate with teachers, parents and students to make sure students’ needs are being met and that everyone has a clear understanding and expectation of each other. She teaches students academic, life, social and organizational skills all while making sure they feel encouraged, supported and understood.
“Mrs. Plant tells me when I do a good job,” one of her students said. “When I have problems, she helps me know how to solve them. When I feel upset, she can tell how I’m feeling. She cheers me up. I like her a lot.”
Conder was chosen in recognition of his involvement in mainstream activities and academic improvement. Aside from taking several mainstream classes, Conder participates in concert choir and the percussion ensemble group at Hillcrest. He works hard to prepare for each performance, spending hours studying lyrics and memorizing music. In December all of that hard work paid off when Conder performed in seven different concerts, including performances at Temple Square and in the “Forgotten Carols.”
Conder has many friends, whom he inspires with his ability to remain calm during his long and sometimes stressful rehearsals, and his unique talent of looking out for others.