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.”

Mr. J. Merrill Hallam
Science/Math/Biology Teacher
Spanish Fork Jr. High, Nebo School District
35 Years in Education

The Future Farmers of America (FFA) motto is: Learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve. That motto exemplifies Mr. Hallam.

As a lifelong learner himself, he clearly recognizes that being an example is the best way to teach. In his many years of experience, he has never lost the drive and motivation of a young teacher and continues to engage students through innovative technology and hands-on activities in his Biology classroom. In addition to teaching science, he worked as a school counselor and math teacher.

Mr. Hallam has been teaching since 1982. When entering his classroom, you know it will be a different kind of learning experience. From antique farm tools hanging on the wall to an old barn wood fence separating the desks from the learning center, his classroom is engaging. The seats in his computer lab are made of old milk cans and tractor seats. His innovative classroom design sets his students up to be critical and conscientious thinkers. Currently, he teaches Biology and his students score above the district and state averages on the state SAGE test.

Mr. Hallam is an advocate for Career and Technology Education (CTE); he knows the sense of satisfaction and self-worth that comes from this type of learning and wants students in Nebo School District to feel this gratification in their education. He assists the district in many ways. Mr. Hallam worked with the Board of Education, district and school administrators, as well as teachers to procure funding to build new greenhouses, an auto body facility, and renovate and build new animal raising facilities. Mr. Hallam contributed both his time and talents to re-invent these facilities while saving the district thousands of dollars.

The most amazing thing about this gentleman is that he does not expect or like recognition for his charitable lifestyle and it is truly a lifestyle for him. J. Merrill Hallam is the epitome of a humble man. Everyone who comes in contact with him is changed for the better.