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Winners of CSD’s Inaugural ACE Scholarships Announced

Thanks to a new scholarship funded by Canyons employees for Canyons employees, a paraeducator at Bella Vista, facilities maintenance technician, and graduating Brighton High senior will have a little help “acing” their dreams to become teachers.

The inaugural winners of the Aspiring Canyons Educator Scholarship (ACE) learned Wednesday, May 1 they are receiving up to $5,000 to help pay the tuition for their teacher training programs. Each of the following was surprised with a big check and applauded by family members and colleagues:

  • Alyssa Hill – Paraprofessional Educator, Bella Vista Elementary School
  • Jonathan Kesler – Facilities Maintenance Technician, Canyons Facilities Department
  • Melody Otterstrom – Senior, Brighton High School


“This is a way for educators to inspire and mentor the next generation of teachers,” says Denise Haycock, Development Officer for the Canyons Education Foundation, which administers the payroll deduction program that funds the ACE Scholarships. “Teaching is such a rewarding career so why wouldn’t we want to grow the next generation of teachers from within by supporting students who aspire to teach and employees who have already dedicated years of service to our schools? Knowing your helping a colleague with these donations feels good.”

ACE Scholarships, a joint effort of the Canyons Education Foundation and Human Resources Department, are a home-grown strategy for combatting Utah’s teacher shortage. And there are few shortages more acute than the scarcity of special education teachers, which Alyssa Hill aspires to be.

Hill is a paraeducator who, for three years, has been supporting students with developmental and behavioral challenges at Bella Vista Elementary. A colleague wrote in support of her scholarship application, Hill has “consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the success and well-being of each student.”

 “I want to provide consistency for my students, especially because a lot of them don’t have a stable home life,” Hill says. “I want my students to have at least one positive adult in their life.”

Jonathan Kesler says his route to becoming a teacher has not been the traditional path but he’s learned the importance of the unsung heroes who support the educational system. “It’s a great opportunity from Canyons as a way to help those of us who want to become teachers,” says Kesler, “this is a huge step forward.”

Kesler has already begun his studies, pursuing an art education major and a secondary teaching license with a Spanish endorsement. He is fluent in Spanish having lived in the jungles of Peru.

“Teaching has always been a way of sharing information,” says Kesler, “a way of giving back to others in the community, specifically students. I’m grateful to be one of the first to receive this scholarship from the Education Foundation and look forward to furthering my career here in the Canyons district.”

Melody Otterstrom may still be a high school student herself, but she already knows she wants to lead her own classroom one day.

“I love kids,” says Otterstrom, the daughter of Paul Otterstrom, a beloved woodshop teacher at Brighton High. “I took a preschool class earlier this year which I loved more than anything and I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.”

Otterstrom’s teachers and administrators say she is “a remarkable young woman who has demonstrated exemplary leadership skills and academic excellence.”

She looks forward to applying her scholarship to her Elementary Education studies when she attends the Utah Valley University in the Fall. “I’m kind of shocked,” she says, “I’m also just really proud of myself, I feel honored.”

Haycock hopes Canyons employees will continue to give to their peers so this “grow your own” strategy can grow to support more aspiring educators.

“If every employee gave one dollar from each paycheck, we’d have more than $140,000 a year to give back to employees to further their education,” she says. “All of our employees, from the custodians to the Superintendent, help children succeed in school. If we can help anyone who wants to get in front of the classroom, that’s a win for everyone.”

To donate to the ACE Scholarship Program, click here
To apply for the ACE Scholarship, click here.

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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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