Lana Hiskey

The Huntsman Awards for Excellence in Education is celebrating their 25th year recognizing the importance of school education. Friday, May 12, 2017, Jennifer Huntsman Parkin welcomed the new inductees, as well as the winners from each of the previous 24 years.

Jon and Karen Huntsman welcomed and thanked the winners, their families, and their nominators in the audience for their impact on others. They shared personal stories of why education is important and explained, “The children of today will become adult citizens and leaders of tomorrow.”

“The growth and future of our country highly depends upon the quality of our educators.
Most of us can point to that one educator who truly affected our lives—both in and out of the classroom. We remember the one teacher who really pushed us to achieve—or the instructor who refused to let us take the easy way out. And while we may not remember much else about that school year, we definitely remember that teacher,” stated Jon and Karen. “We have received and read many nomination forms for fabulous teachers, administrators and volunteers. We are fortunate in our state to have exceptional teachers who make school an exciting and interesting place. Our winners this year possess a passion for the subjects they teach and genuine care for the students with whom they work. They inspire their students to play with ideas, think deeply about the subject matter, take on more challenging work, and even pursue careers in a particular field of study.”

Mrs. Monica Giffing
Agriculture/Biology Teacher
Springville High School, Nebo School District 
13 Years in Education

Mrs. Giffing is a progressive, enthusiastic and selfless educator. Able to recognize and celebrate potential greatness in all students, she tenaciously creates ways for them to find success in classroom experiences and in real life opportunities. As Harold Bloom noted, "Greatness recognizes greatness."

Starting as a part-time agriculture teacher at Maple Mountain High School and Springville High School, Mrs. Giffing built the program to full-time teaching positions within her first two years as a teacher. Under her direction, the program now includes three full-time agriculture teachers. Currently she serves as the science chair.

In her classroom Mrs. Giffing transformed the traditional delivery of curriculum from "teach, preach, test and forget" to interactive student-driven lessons and experiments that ensure students learn by discovery. She identifies "I Can" learning outcomes and provides engaging activities that promote critical thinking. This has revolutionized long-term comprehension and increased end-of-level test scores by 40% for students.

Mrs. Giffing shares her passion for agriculture in the community. Under her direction, students sell their produce grown in student gardens at farmers markets. All proceeds from the market are retained to help students offset school and project expenses. Leftover produce is donated to the local food pantry.

Supporting an inclusive education model, Mrs. Giffing began teaching students with severe disabilities at the Oakridge School about the art of agriculture. This program has grown from the Oakridge students participating in her greenhouse growing classes to twelve students raising show pigs for competition.

Because she recognizes the greatness in all of her students and epitomizes greatness, Mrs. Giffing has gone far beyond what would ever be expected from a regular special education teacher to help these students with special needs find success in Future Farmers of America. Mrs. Giffing provided services, education, and love for an underserved population.

Mrs. Giffing continues to color outside the lines of the normal teacher expectations and celebrates the greatness in every child.