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“It’s the supreme art of the teacher,” once said Albert Einstein, “to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Every day, the spark of learning is inspired by the good, hard work of CSD teachers. Following a cherished 15-year tradition, educators from CSD schools and programs are being honored for their efforts to lift, inspire, and embolden.  In CSD’s Teacher of the Year selection process, schools and programs choose one educator to be lauded for their excellence. In recent weeks, those teachers were surprised with the news that they had been selected as their school’s top teacher for the year. They all received gifts and prizes, as well as a $250 cash card, from the Canyons Education Foundation, which is a co-sponsor of CSD’s annual Teacher of the Year awards program. From the field of the school-based winners featured below, CSD will select three finalists — one from the elementary level, one from the middle school level, and one from the high school level.  The overall Teacher of the Year, who also will serve as Canyons’ representative in the state’s top-teacher selection process, will be chosen from those three finalists.  The first-place pick will receive a $1,000 cash prize from CSD’s Foundation. The community is invited to the Teacher of the Year announcement ceremony on Tuesday, April 23 at Butler Middle, 7530 S. 2700 East. A reception starts at 6:15 p.m.  The ceremony begins at 7 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public. 

“It’s the supreme art of the teacher,” once said Albert Einstein, “to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Every day, the spark of learning is inspired by the good, hard work of CSD teachers. Following a cherished 15-year tradition, educators from CSD schools and programs are being honored for their efforts to lift, inspire, and embolden.  In CSD’s Teacher of the Year selection process, schools and programs choose one educator to be lauded for their excellence. In recent weeks, those teachers were surprised with the news that they had been selected as their school’s top teacher for the year. They all received gifts and prizes, as well as a $250 cash card, from the Canyons Education Foundation, which is a co-sponsor of CSD’s annual Teacher of the Year awards program. From the field of the school-based winners featured below, CSD will select three finalists — one from the elementary level, one from the middle school level, and one from the high school level.  The overall Teacher of the Year, who also will serve as Canyons’ representative in the state’s top-teacher selection process, will be chosen from those three finalists.  The first-place pick will receive a $1,000 cash prize from CSD’s Foundation. The community is invited to the Teacher of the Year announcement ceremony on Tuesday, April 23 at Butler Middle, 7530 S. 2700 East. A reception starts at 6:15 p.m.  The ceremony begins at 7 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public. 

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Laura
Rasmussen

Bella Vista

Heidi
Wilcox

Canyon View

Fangaafa
Tuifua

East Midvale

Elise
Hillstrom

East Sandy

Mallory
Robbins

Glacier Hills

Katie
Redd

Lone Peak

Alexi
Morris

Oak Hollow

Bethany
Smith

Peruvian Park

Sam
Madej

Quail Hollow

Fengmin
Li

Ridgecrest

Chelsea
Prime

Silver Mesa

Heidi
Ballou

Willow Canyon

Kimberly
Peterson

Willow Springs

Stephanie
Nasser

Albion Middle

Wenrui
Chen

Butler Middle

Ellie
Seaborn

Draper Park Middle

Stephanie
Davis

Eastmont Middle

John
Henrichsen

Midvale Middle

Lyndsay
Nicholson

Indian Hills Middle

Daniel
Aguilera

Mount Jordan Middle

Brooke
Grant

Union Middle

Kevin
Clyde

Alta High

Austin
Gillespie

Brighton High

Baylee
Riley

Corner Canyon High

Jace
Reber

Hillcrest High

Peter
Newbold

Jordan High

Gail
Maycock

Diamond Ridge High

Tessa
Marrelli

Life Skills Academy

Jenny
Warner

Jordan Valley

Dr. Silvia Iglesias

Alta View

When Alta View colleagues and parents speak of Dr. Silvia Iglesias, they use words like energetic, warm, and professional. They also say she radiates joy and is a model teacher. Senorita Iglesias, as her students call her, has created a positive and safe environment in her classroom as she teaches first graders how to speak Spanish. Introducing students to a new language is a challenge on its own, but Iglesias, who runs an efficient and organized classroom, goes beyond simply teaching the language. She introduces her students to Spanish culture and traditions. As the leader of Alta View’s Spanish DLI Team, she encourages faculty to work in collaboration. Parents enjoy her outreach efforts, too, and know that she worries when children miss even a day of school.  

Ana Vinuesa

Altara

When Altara Elementary needed a fifth-grade DLI teacher, Ana Vinuesa agreed to take on the task.  Unsurprising, her jump from third to fifth grade has been nearly seamless. In the last three years at Altara, Vinuesa has helped her students grow in both their language proficiency and individuality. Fellow teachers describe Vinuesa’s teaching style as welcoming and warm. Her classroom is a safe place to learn new things, no matter how challenging. Many students have called her their favorite teacher, saying she helped them grow in so many ways. One parent called her teaching “true education” and remarked that she makes a difference in the lives of all children who pass through her classroom. It’ll be a sad farewell for the Kittyhawks, but Vinuesa is returning to Spain later this year. They hope it won’t be a permanent goodbye — but an “hasta luego.”  

Laura Rasmussen

Bella Vista

No matter how many students are in her class, Laura Rasmussen finds the time to learn what makes every child tick. She learns their likes, dislikes, strengths, and what they need most to succeed. With that in mind, she then tailors her lessons to help the whole class succeed. Parents say Laura goes the extra mile, even overcoming language barriers, when it comes to her students. Academic data show that all of her students are making growth in both reading and math. Several parents and students mentioned in Teacher of the Year nominations for Rasmussen they love her Monthly Family Math projects and STEAM lessons. Said one parent: “She is extremely compassionate and patient. She has truly set the bar high!”

Abigail Wilcox

Brookwood

Abigail Wilcox shows her Brookwood Bears honey-sweet kindness. It’s why children feel safe and comfortable in her care. In a nomination for the Teacher of the Year honor, one parent remarked on her son’s challenges at the beginning of the year. The student was filled with anxiety and did not want to go to school. “Ms. Wilcox did an incredible job at making my son feel validated and safe. He felt comfortable talking to her about how he was feeling, which was so amazing,” said the parent. “She didn’t make him feel like he shouldn’t be feeling the way he was feeling and eventually, he realized he learned different coping mechanisms and is now thriving and absolutely loves school.” This student is not an outlier — Wilcox’s caring approach has led to strong connections with her class. In return, her students work hard and take risks in their learning. Said another parent: “Ms Wilcox is amazing, structured, and well-spoken. She has done an amazing job with my son this year. I cannot thank her enough for all her help.” 

Emily Balls

Butler

Kindergarten can be a tough adjustment for some children. With a cheerful smile, Emily Balls helps those kiddos face their fears, embrace their school-day schedules, and develop a love for learning. A grandparent of one of Balls’ students nominated her for the Teacher of the Year honor, saying that it’s impressive how much her class has progressed in a matter of months. In a short period of time, her students have become hard workers and good listeners. They have learned letters, addition and subtraction. While those may be simple tasks to those who have already surpassed kindergarten, they’re also the stepping stones for future academic success. “Ms. Balls has been the most amazing teacher for our son,” said one parent. “This is his first year in school and he’s had some struggles. She has really taken time to help him so much and we just appreciate how amazing she is.”  

Heidi Wilcox

Canyon View

As the saying goes, communication is the key to success. Heidi Wilcox delivers clear and explicit instruction to her students and then makes sure parents are constantly updated on what is happening in the classroom. From making calls to parents to sending photos of classroom projects to holding informative Parent Teacher Conferences, Wilcox works hard to strengthen the school-to-home connection. Wilcox’s classroom is touted as a well-oiled machine. Within those walls, she sets firm boundaries and sets high expectations.  In a nomination for the Teacher of the Year honor, one parent said Wilcox “exemplifies the qualities which make an outstanding educator. Her impact extends beyond the classroom, positively influencing the lives of her students and contributing to the school’s overall success.”  Said another parent:  “We hit the teacher jackpot this year with Ms. Wilcox.”  

Madison Considine

Copperview

Since Madison Considine was 5 years old, she’s had her heart set on becoming a teacher. As a child, she would spend her playtime pretending she was leading a classroom. When her father looks back on those memories, he says he had no doubt she would become an excellent educator. Colleagues remark on the second-grade teacher’s efforts to take extra professional development courses or seek advice from other educators so she can improve in this ever-evolving world. Teachers and parents alike say she is organized, diligent, and puts her student’s needs first — even digging into her own pockets to ensure students have breakfast or a snack when they need it. She even schedules home visits with the families and is said to exercise incredible patience with even the most challenging student. Her students say when they get an answer wrong, her response is to tell them, “It’s OK, you will get it next time!”  She truly is living the life she imagined as a child.  

Madison Sansom

Crescent

When Madison Sansom learned one of her new students had anxiety about going to school, she and the principal of Crescent Elementary scheduled time to do a home visit. Sansom gave her new student a stuffed animal and bid a warm welcome to class.  In the process, a bond was forged.  It’s that kind of dedication that her students, parents, and fellow educators admire. Her commitment to the Crescent community goes beyond her classroom and extends to her fellow teachers and staff members. She regularly makes home visits throughout the school year, checking in with the families of her students. When former students see her in the hall, they run to hug her. Sansom smiles non-stop and creates a warm environment where kids can learn and grow.  Here’s what one colleague said about Sansom: “She creates great connections with students, keeps parents involved and updated, and is always putting student happiness first!”   

Jayme Waddell

Draper

When kindergarteners at Draper Elementary head home, they excitedly tell their parents about their day — especially if they’re in Jayme Waddell’s class. They beam with pride at what they have been able to accomplish. It’s no secret that Waddell’s students enjoy going to school because of her influence. Parents say she’s an exceptional person who extends understanding and patience to every student. While Waddell is new to Draper Elementary this year, she has thrived in the community. She’s made connections and supported students in their first year at school. Principal Ronnie Mulqueen says this about Waddell: “Her students are thriving not only learning academics, but also kindness, compassion, and how to be a good citizen.”

Fangaafa Tuifua

East Midvale

While Fangaafa Tuifua has been teaching for just under a decade, “Miss Fatai” joined the team at East Midvale Elementary two years ago — and immediately made her mark on the school community. In her first year, Miss Fatai planned a Pacific Islander Month activity and taught her students about the culture and geography. “Not only was she sharing a piece of her identity that so many of our own students relate to,” said one colleague, “but she was setting a precedent for monthly celebrations recognizing other cultures across the globe.” As the leader of the student council, Ms. Fatai spearheaded Operation Sandwich. For this activity, students made 100 sandwiches for those who are experiencing food insecurity. Miss Fatai continues to build on her already stellar skill set by working on a master’s degree and serving as a Teacher Fellow. She has been described as fun, engaging, and inspiring — and a vital part of the East Midvale community.  

Elise Hillstrom

East Sandy

Ask any second or third grader at East Sandy Elementary who their favorite teacher is and odds are their answer will be Elise Hillstrom. Hillstrom can’t make it from the door to her classroom without a rush of students hoping for a hug. Parents say their children are showing drastic improvements under Hillstrom’s guidance. There is no doubt that she’s the captain of her classroom and makes sure all her students, especially those learning English as a second language, are learning the task at hand. “She leads them in such a way where the class more often than not are the ones to bring along the ESL kids,” says one parent. It’s well-known in the school community that Ms. Hillstrom’s teaching style blends kindness with high expectations. Said another parent: “She is exemplary in her relationships with her students and it shows in their development, as well as their attitude toward school and learning.”

Mallory Robbins

Glacier Hills

When parents, students, and teachers describe Glacier Hills Elementary teacher Mallory Robbins, they use phrases such as “my favorite teacher ever,” “encouraging.” and “respectful,” just to name a few.  It’s her nature to spark a love of learning in her students. One parent even says their daughter is sad when there is a substitute teacher for even a day. Fellow teachers say she is an advocate for all students and is mindful of the morale of the entire school community. Robbins also has a flair for fun while being fierce in a quiet and compassionate way. Said one colleague: “Ms. Robbins builds a strong classroom and community where her students know they are loved and respected.”

Adriana Velazquez

Granite

Adriana Velazquez is sowing the seeds of success in her students. It’s clear her students are flourishing as their young minds grow and mature. Parents of Velazquez’s students say they can see she cares deeply for all her students. “She sees each student as part of the class, bringing individual gifts to benefit the class as a whole,” remarked one parent. Velazquez steadfastly provides a positive learning environment. In her class, students are celebrated for their individuality. Wrote one parent in a nomination for the Teacher of the Year award:  “She is caring and teaches with calm authority, which has made my son feel safe to be himself at school.” 

Katie Redd

Lone Peak

Katie Redd is a bright light in the hallways of Lone Peak Elementary. With a megawatt smile, she coaches classes to grow academically and socially. Parents and fellow teachers remark on how impressed they are with her ability to increase the literacy skills of her students. She achieves this while also supporting nearly 50 students in the Mandarin Chinese-English Dual Language Immersion program. She looks at lessons from a student’s perspective to figure out how to work through problems with them. She also creates a positive learning environment and ensures each student feels important. Redd also invites parents into the classroom to participate in “Read-a Thons” with students. One student said this about Redd: “I loved going to her class because I knew I could count on her to help me and progress.”

Sarah Patchel

Midvale

No task is too big or too small for Midvale Elementary first-grade teacher Sarah Patchel. Patchel is known to positively impact students beyond her own classroom through creating a culture of collaboration with all her Midvale colleagues. In return, her fellow teachers express their gratitude for her eagerness to share what she has learned about educating young minds. Patchel develops strong relationships with her students while also establishing boundaries and routines. One Midvale faculty member says Patchel is “an excellent example of an outstanding educator who has spent her career perfecting her craft of teaching. She is the epitome of professionalism and demonstrates her care and involvement with her students and their success in all aspects of her vocation.” Leaders from across the state have even come to Patchel’s classroom to watch and learn. From the first day to the last, Patchel helps prepare little Mustangs to race toward their dreams.  

Patrice Rogers

Midvalley

Patrice Rogers has a tough job. She’s tasked with preparing Midvalley fifth-graders to leave elementary school and join older students at the middle school. Rogers does this by cultivating a classroom environment in which students are encouraged to take ownership of their own education.  As a result, students who enter Rogers’ class at the outset of the year leave ready to take on the challenges of secondary school. One parent, in a nomination for the Teacher of the Year honor, said Rogers “deeply cares about the well-being and success of all her students.” Another parent said that Rogers, who is completing her master’s degree, may be a child’s teacher for a short time, but will be their cheerleader for life. 

Alexi Morris

Oak Hollow

Alexi Morris is a problem-solver. Undeterred from facing challenges, Morris works to find solutions, much like the students in her class tackle mathematics problems. Students say Morris, who teaches in the French-English Dual Language Immersion program, is nice but knows exactly the tone to take to keep the class on task. But even when she needs to correct behavior, students know she cares. She takes the time to support her students outside of the classroom, showing up at extracurricular activities to cheer from the sidelines. One parent sums up Morris’ devotion to her students this way: “It’s often the ones who aren’t easy to love who need love the most, and she truly gives love abundantly to all.”

Rebecca Milner

Oakdale

Rebecca Milner recognizes that students learn so much more at school than academics. One parent said that Ms. Milner “realizes that little brains as well as little lives are being formed.” Milner continues to improve her craft, working toward her master’s degree while teaching full time. Milner began her career as a reading interventionist. She then started teaching kindergarten — and never looked back. When visitors to Oakdale walk past Milner’s classroom, they see engaged and happy students. Former students often stop by her classroom to say hello. Parents of Milner’s students say kindergarten teachers are unsung heroes who prepare their students to excel as they enter their formative education years. Milner, said one parent, “understands her responsibilities go beyond teaching the ABC’s but include modeling kindness, compassion, and respect for everyone.”

Jamie McDonald

Park Lane

Making lemonade out of lemons is something Jamie McDonald’s students know how to do. McDonald calls her kindergarteners “lemon leaders” when they demonstrate such characteristics as kindness, respect and dedication. McDonald’s sense of adventure makes her students excited to come to school every day. “My daughter loves school so much she once tried to pretend she wasn’t sick so she wouldn’t miss school,” one parent wrote about her child’s experience in McDonald’s class. “I will always be eternally grateful that my daughter started out her school journey with Ms. McDonald. I feel like she gave my kid a joy of learning that I hope lasts a lifetime.” McDonald, who starts out each day welcoming every child by name, has just the right mix of discipline and love to help students reach their highest potential. McDonald incorporates ways for students who are struggling to catch up while providing opportunities for students who may need more advanced material. As one parent put it: “Pygmalion himself could not have dreamt up a better teacher if he tried.”

Bethany Smith

Peruvian Park

Bethany Smith patiently coaxes the best out of her students, especially when they are struggling to master a concept. Said one parent: “Our twins are thriving and love to be in her class. She is very nurturing and makes them feel welcome.” Smith is collaborative, meticulous, and fosters an engaging learning environment. In fact, in a nomination for Teacher of the Year, another parent said she is a “dedicated and inspiring educator who has left a mark on our school community.”  Yet another nomination letter praised her positive demeanor.  “Beth is always smiling and happy to be at school with her students. She’s really good at making everyone feel important and that she genuinely cares.”  

Sam Madej

Quail Hollow

It’s apparent that Sam Madej loves being a teacher. Numerous Quail Hollow families say they have had more than one child pass through Madej’s classroom – and all of them show marked improvement by the end of the school year. One parent said Madej went to great lengths to make sure their child, who had recently moved into the school community, felt welcome from the first day.  The family remains so grateful for the way Madej supported the student, helping erase those new-to-the-school jitters. Her dedication extends to after-school hours, as well. Madej coaches “Girls on the Run,” an afternoon program that promotes physical and emotional health and strength. Her soft touch includes regularly sending notes to parents alerting them to the process of their children. It’s clear through all of her efforts that her students are close to her heart.  

Fengmin Li

Ridgecrest

Intelligent. Fair. Charismatic. Humble. Passionate. Honest. These are just a few of the words often used to describe Fengin Li, a teacher in the Mandarin-English Chinese Dual Language Immersion program. Li helps her students progress in not just language acquisition but all the core subjects. She has a talent for ensuring her students become confident learners. She also provides reports to parents on day-to-day events and learning activities. One parent recounts how her two children were struggling with one subject, and Li stayed late three days a week to work with just the two of them. In a nomination for the Teacher of the Year award, one parent said Li is “absolutely committed to providing each child”  the gift of learning.  

Denée Bringhurst

Sandy

Sandy Elementary’s Denée Bringhurst has been described as a “master teacher” whose structured classroom is also a welcoming learning environment. Bringhurst often arrives early and stays late to work with struggling students. With children and colleagues alike, she brings out the best in everyone she meets. Her work ethic is admired in the school community — where she’s taught for more than 25 years. She’s a Sandy Shark through and through and has been key to building and maintaining the growth-mindset culture at the school. Bringhurst even spends some of her free time attending her student’s sporting activities. From the sidelines, she cheers for them and encourages them to become the best they can be — just like she does at school. 

Chelsea Prime

Silver Mesa

Chelsea Prime refers to the children in her classroom as “scholars.” After all, that is what she strives to help them become. She inspires a deep love of learning by listening intently to questions and then providing gentle guidance in words that children can easily understand. From incorporating new technology in the classroom to approaching challenges with infectious enthusiasm, Prime’s focus on student growth doesn’t stray from the target. Among her peers, she’s known as dedicated, friendly, and supportive. Even the smallest details, such as whether one of her students is nervous to ride the bus, are caught by her watchful eye. Additionally, parents love the way she keeps them updated on the classroom events and learning activities. In a nomination for the Teacher of the Year award, one parent said Prime “is the best possible teacher anyone could ask for.”  

Shannon Saltzsieder

Sprucewood

As a teacher, Shannon Salzsieder has perfected the blending of warmth and wisdom while providing golden opportunities for students to learn and grow. With endless energy, she helps organize assemblies and offers to stand post at the crosswalk in addition to her teaching duties. In all things, she goes above and beyond to lift the Sprucewood community. Salzsieder integrates the arts into learning in a way that makes her classroom fun and inviting. Saltzsieder is pursuing a master’s degree in arts education and her studies are already making her school a more colorful, creative place. Her hands-on lessons and connection with her students show she is an advocate for students and is invested wholeheartedly in their progress and success. Principal Cathy Schino says Salzsieder “is a true champion for all children and is always ready to expand her toolbox of skills that helps all learners grow.”  

Kayla Slack

Sunrise

Students in Kayla Slack’s fifth-grade class at Sunrise Elementary, affectionately refer to themselves as “The Slack Pack.” And once you’re a part of that pack, you’re a member for life.  “Ms Slack helped me get through some really tough times,” wrote a former student in a nomination for the Teacher of the Year honor. “She is my absolute favorite teacher.” Through innovative instruction, she instills a love for learning in her classroom, which students feel loved, included, and a sense of belonging. Slack asks her students to write a letter to their “sixth-grade selves,” and then mails those letters to them as they start middle school. Of course, inside the envelope, she also tucks a hand-written note of encouragement. Without fail, she communicates with parents and promptly addresses any concerns or questions. One parent says that Stack, “beyond preparing them with apt knowledge and learning mechanisms for middle school, she has equipped them with social dexterity to navigate preteen life.”

Heidi Ballou

Willow Canyon

Every school needs a teacher like Heidi Ballou. She teaches from the heart, is attentive to individual needs, and inspires students to grow every day. Parents say Ballou’s classroom is a safe haven for children. Many families in the school community have had multiple children go through her class, and parents remark on how she changed their lives for the better. This year, some of Ballou’s students are learning English as a second language and she expertly bridges the language divide so they can keep up with the rest of the class. The change to all-day kindergarten has appeared effortless for Ballou. Said one parent whose older children have been in Ballou’s class:  “I’ve always thought Mrs Ballou was an amazing teacher, but this year I’ve seen an incredible transformation in her and my student. Mrs Ballou’s creativity and knowledge for her classroom needs is unmatched. She communicates in effective ways to her children and has created a fun and exciting learning environment for all involved. Her kids are gaining so much knowledge and education with her as their teacher!”  

Kimberly Peterson

Willow Springs

If there is a new and creative way to teach a concept, count on Kimberly Peterson to find it. Peterson is known throughout the Willow Springs community as an engaging teacher who adds her own spin to every topic she teaches. From science experiments to wax museums to biography writing, she brings a sense of fun to even the toughest-to-learn lessons.  But her real talent is how she relates to her students. She knows them — what they do when they aren’t in school and all their hobbies and interests. Tough moments don’t deter her, either. No matter how difficult the day may have been, she shows up the next day with a smile on her face, ready to do it again. Her sense of humor helps her colleagues, as well. “Every teacher knows how valuable a laugh is at the right time,” said another Willow Springs teacher. “I look forward to teaching with her every day and I know her students adore her.”  

Stephanie Nasser

Albion

Albion Middle students may enter Stephanie Nasser’s classroom with some sense of worry they won’t be able to meet her high expectations — but they always leave feeling resilient and proud. Colleagues say that Nasser balances high expectations with warmth, love, and positivity, and students leave her class knowing that they can do hard things. One parent says this about her daughter’s experience in Nasser’s class: “My daughter hated English before Ms. Nasser’s class. At the beginning, she said: ‘Ms. Nasser is pushing us too hard and expects too much.’ Now she loves it and has even bumped up her English testing scores by a lot!” Nasser joined Albion’s faculty in 2017 and has elevated and invigorated the school community. “Students who get her as a teacher are the luckiest of all,” says Principal Eric Gardner. “She runs a tight ship that accomplishes the crucial job of preparing them for high school.”

Wenrui Chen

Butler

Wenrui Chen makes every student feel as if they belong in his class. Teens in his Chinese DLI class also say he makes them laugh — which is quite the compliment coming from middle schoolers.  His is not an easy class but Chen kindly guides them through the intricacies of learning the global language.  

He also is  known to bring out a guitar to help students learn the language through song.  Students want to say “Xièxiè” — or thank you —  to Chen for allowing them the freedom to learn in ways that interest them and encouraging them when they struggle. His students also praise him for allowing them second chances. It’s interesting to note that nearly all of Chen’s multiple nominations for the Teacher of the Year award came from his students. Wrote one student in her nomination:  “Mr Chen helps us understand what he is teaching and is very kind while doing it — which can be really hard considering our class.”  

Ellie Seaborn

Draper Park

Ellie Seaborn’s science class is a home away from home for many Draper Park Middle students. Even with nearly 200 students, she’s found a way to connect with each one. She knows their interests and often asks about their families. When she’s not at Draper Park, she’s volunteering at an elementary school, and connects her science curriculum with what the younger students are learning so they get excited about taking science classes in secondary school. “Ms. Seaborn is the most amazing teacher I have ever had,” said one student. “She has explained the most confusing things in the most easy way. She really is an amazing teacher and deserves this award.” Colleagues say she’s a true champion for her students and colleagues alike. She helps fellow teachers play to their own strengths while being an efficient and respectful team lead. Said one colleague:  Every student, every school, every district needs a teacher like Ellie Seaborn.  

Stephanie Davis

Eastmont

Stephanie Davis has been a crucial part of building the positive and welcoming culture at Eastmont. If you are a student in Davis’ class, you don’t doubt that she’s in your corner. High-fives are given to students as they walk into the class or pass her in the hallway. Davis urges her middle schoolers to not just think about what’s in front of them but to look well into the future. The next step for the Patriots is high school but Davis pushes them to visualize what their lives could be if they tap their potential. One former student wrote this nomination for Davis: “She helped me get through middle school. Anytime I was having a rough day she always knew how to cheer me up.  She is so kind and caring and nobody better could get this award.”  Her six years at Eastmont have been spent building up the Patriots in so many ways. Her influence on the school — and the Eastmont student body — is lasting.  

John Henrichsen

Midvale

Colleagues say that one of Henrichsen’s greatest strengths is building strong relationships with his students. He takes the time to talk to his students and get to know them as people, and his students love him for it. This is obvious in the number of former students who linger outside his classroom to say hello during each passing period. As one nomination said: “Mr. Henrichsen was my teacher in seventh grade and has taught me a lot. I still use a lot that he has taught me today in school and in just my normal life. He was so funny and inspired me to be who I am today because of how he connected with the students and made me feel good about myself every morning I would walk in his door.” Students are willing to work hard in his class because they know he cares about them.  Said one student in a nomination:  “Mr. Henrichsen is an amazing teacher. He would always think of fun and engaging activities for us to do that would help his students learn.” 

Lyndsay Nicholson

Indian Hills

Health instruction is never easy — and it’s made even more challenging when your audience is made up of gangly and giggling teens in the midst of their awkward maturation years. It can be delicate, indeed, but Lyndsay Nicholson has a knack for making it less daunting for her Indian HIlls students.  Nicholson makes a “not fun” topic fun to learn, said one student. Another student said she’s an “amazing teacher in every way” and yet another said that “even when kids act up and are annoying and don’t listen and are being disrespectful, she always knows how to take care of it.” Nicholson is praised for making sure every student feels comfortable in her class. She listens to her students and helps them work through issues they may not grasp right away, ensuring everyone understands and is able to move forward.  “Ms. Nicholson makes learning fun when we learn hard and scary topics, she teaches them in a non-scary way and makes it easy to understand,” said one student.  “Almost everyone I know who had Ms. Nicholson said she is the best teacher.”  

Daniel Aguilera

Mount Jordan

As a Spanish DLI teacher, Daniel Aguilera helps not only the Mount Jordan Middle school community, but teachers throughout the state. Señor Aguilera is constantly innovating in his classroom and collaborates with other teachers. His aim is to make Mount Jordan Middle the best place for learning.  Parents say Mr. Aguilera teaches in a way that is relatable. He doesn’t just teach them a new language. He helps them see they are capable of overcoming tough challenges. Students say they’re never worried about asking for help when they need it — and he never shames them if they get something wrong. Instead, he kindly shows them how to fix it .Parents say he goes beyond that, giving students the confidence they need to be not just good students but successful in all they do. 

Brooke Grant

Union Middle

Middle school students are notorious for fretting about what others think of them. For some adolescents, standing out in a crowd is nerve-wracking. That is where Brooke Grant comes in at Union Middle. As the theater teacher, she creates a safe space for students to become comfortable in the spotlight. Hers is a high-energy classroom where the Bobcats can be their weird, awkward, and funny selves. One student, in a nomination for Teacher of the Year, said Grant’s pep talk before a performance was exactly what she needed to forget her nerves. Bad days are hard to have around Grant, whose positivity is infectious. Even the students who aren’t in her classes, sing her praises and applaud her influence on the campus. From the way her students talk, she deserves a standing ovation at the end of every class period.  

Kevin Clyde

Alta

Alta Hawks students soar in Kevin Clyde’s mathematics classes.  “Mr. Clyde is a phenomenal math educator who has strategically placed whiteboards throughout his classroom walls to facilitate problem-solving for his students,” one student wrote in a nomination for Clyde. “Rather than handing out specific notes, he inspires us to craft our own. His upbeat demeanor and engaging approach to math make him a joy to learn from.” Clyde has worked at Alta for eight years and serves as the school’s math department chair. He also coaches the Math Modeling Team, which currently ranks as one of the best in the world. Said another student:  “I am disheartened that I only have the opportunity to learn from him for one year. If it were up to me, I would relish the prospect of having Mr. Clyde as my math instructor for every year of high school at Alta.” 

Austin Gillespie

Brighton High

“He makes chemistry make sense.” That is what one Brighton High student said about Austin Gillespie, who teaches advanced topics in a way that nearly everyone can understand. Parents watch with delight as their children become inspired to excel in Gillespie’s class.  They enjoy seeing their students progress and remark on the positive impact he has on the Bengals. Gillespie keeps his students laughing while they do their lab work, but it’s serious business when they start preparing for the AP tests. Gillespie’s students reward his hard work by notching impressive AP pass rates. Those who have seen him in action say it’s almost as if Gillespie inherently understands the nuances of teaching. He truly leaves a lasting impression on his students, many of whom say they will always be grateful for the lessons they’ve learned in his class.  

Baylee Riley

Corner Canyon

Corner Canyon High’s Baylee Riley incorporates a number of mediums into her lessons, making her classroom a creative space for students interested in such artistic endeavors as painting, pottery, photography, or printmaking. Riley is clearly passionate about arts education. But she’s even more invested in making sure the Chargers see beauty in creative expression. She’s motivating, enthusiastic, and encourages students to simply try.  One student who nominated Riley for the Teacher of the Year honor said Riley continues to provide advice in the student’s photography business. Said another student:  “As a senior, I can confidently say that Mrs. Riley has been the most impactful teacher that I have had throughout my entire life and she has truly made