Shortly after Emma Moss found out Thursday, Oct. 1 that the Utah State Board of Education named her as a runner-up for the 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year award, she had one of those days that is sure to rank as a highlight of her career.
Since Moss was named as the 2020 Canyons Teacher of the Year in April, her students have been anxiously waiting to hear if she would be chosen as a statewide winner. On Thursday, they received the news with cheers and applause — and a tender exchange.
“It was a great moment today,” Moss said. “One of the students said, ‘This is so great, it means I get to sit with the greatest teacher,’ and I said, ‘And I get to sit with the greatest students.’ It was a really good day to hear them say that and to be able to say that back to them.”
Moss’ focus on her students shines through in her motivation to be a teacher. As she prepared her application for the Utah Teacher of the Year award, Moss said, she carefully considered how she feels about education through her written essays. After she was selected as a finalist in early September, Moss spent her days waiting to hear how she fared.
That time proved to be an insightful exercise in her teaching experience, said Moss, who is entering her fourth year of teaching.
“I felt, in that waiting process, that no matter what kind of educator you are, wherever you are at, you get to influence the kids in your classroom,” Moss said. “As I’ve been waiting to figure out how I can better help education and be a representative for education, I’ve been able to continue to work with my students and empower them to be able to find their voice.”
Moss was selected out of a pool of teachers from across the state and will receive $4,000 as part of her award. As she greeted her Eastmont students on Thursday, she took stock of what it means to receive this award as a young teacher. She teaches Career and Technical Education classes at the school.
“I am so glad I have a chance to represent Canyons in this way, and the incredible work educators are doing right now,” Moss said. “At times, it is a lot to figure out the new normal we are in now, but there are so many people working so hard to be able to make a difference for our students and our staff. As teachers, we are juggling a lot right now, but at the heart of education is our students, and the heart is still there.”