Teacher of the Year 2009-2010

Nebo School District Teacher of the Year 2009-2010 Neeley Kay

East Meadows–Neeley Kay

“I believe that I not only have a responsibility to teach children the academic skills they will need to prosper in this world; but just as important, I have the responsibility of teaching them how to become a productive part of the family and community in which they live. I absolutely love teaching students who struggle with emotional behavior disorders. They are wonderful children who are learning positive and appropriate ways to interact with others and express their frustration. Although some days are tiring, I couldn’t imagine spending them any other way.”

Springville Area

Art City Elementary–Robin Wheatley

“I believe that all children can learn, and that it is my responsibility to teach in a way that guarantees their success. Each child whom I teach deserves to be taught in ways that are best for them. I believe education is power, and the success or failure of what is yet to come is determined by the students I teach now. I want to give them the best possible means of making a wonderful future not only for themselves but their families and the community where they live.”

Brookside Elementary–Marlene Swasey

“My philosophy of teaching is based upon the idea that every child can learn and should be held to high expectations. I view every day as an adventure and challenge and ask myself, ‘How can I help this child understand this concept?’ I feel that if students are given boundaries and expectations, they will rise to the occasion. Students will know you care about them, and that you also expect them to succeed and progress. Teaching is the toughest job I have ever had, but also the most rewarding job I have ever held.”

Cherry Creek Elementary–Venus Ernst

“I believe a good teacher’s emphasis is on teaching students – not programs. Teachers can see into the windows of children’s souls and recognize what the child needs and desires. I love coming to work every day, and I am the happiest when I am working with children. I love seeing the wonder in their eyes when they discover some-thing new. I believe all students can learn and have the right to learn. I believe students need to know their teacher loves them and delights in interacting and working with them.”

Sage Creek Elementary–Judie Nielson

“I view my classroom as an extension of my home. I believe that it is my responsibility to teach skills, behaviors, and attitudes that create well educated, literate citizens that value their parents, their country, and their knowledge. If I am successful, my students will have their curiosity aroused; and they will continue to hunger for knowledge for their entire lives.”

Westside Elementary–Melanie Adamson

“By being a part of my students’ lives, I can tap into their potential. I recognize that as individuals, they are little people with feelings, needs, and goals. Their goals are just as important to them as my goals are to me. I have seen their progress and celebrate with them every day. This is my philosophy of teaching. Love what you do. Love those you are with. Make the most of every day. My students are the apple of my eye. They are the ones that make me shine.”

Mapleton Area
Hobble Creek Elementary–Nancy Madson

“I believe every child has the right to learn in a safe, productive environment. It is the teacher’s responsibility to figure ways to help each child learn. School should be fun for both teachers and students. I love to be among the students and listen to them chatter, watch them interact together, and hear them tell stories. My goal each year is to see every child succeed and reach their own personal goals.”

Mapleton Elementary–Shami Wilkinson

“'Honey is sweet and so is knowledge, but knowledge is like the bee who made the honey; it has to be chased through the pages of a book.’ Teachers are responsible for educating the ‘whole’ child and whether it is meeting their academic, physical, emotional, social, or intellectual needs, every child can learn. This familiar adage is what brought most of us to this profession in the first place; however, it is only through constantly obtaining new understanding that we gain confidence in our abilities and come to firmly believe that not only can they learn, but every child will learn.”

Payson Area

Barnett Elementary–Julie Butler

“I am more than a teacher of core objectives. I teach children to reach down inside themselves and become the best they can be. It has always been my goal as an educator to make children feel safe, accepted, and comfortable in a learning environment. I always tell my students that it is okay to make mistakes in my class. We learn from our mistakes, and we should never make fun of someone’s mistakes. Through this philosophy, it has been my experience that true learning can take place.”

Park View Elementary–Regan Lundell

“I believe that many things must be in place in order for a child to achieve optimal learning. I believe, however, that one thing is most important and should be at the heart of any good classroom. A child should be taught by a teacher who genuinely loves and cares for her students as well as demonstrates a love of learning and fosters that same feeling within her students. Phillips Brooks once said, ‘Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.’ I know this to be true. A teacher who loves her students and loves what she does can make all the difference.”

Spring Lake Elementary–Perry Ewell

“From the time I was twelve, I’ve never desired to be in any profession as much as this one where I am able to make a difference daily in the lives of my students. I believe the responsibility of an educator is three fold: 1) help students see their own potential and strive toward that capability, 2) foster responsible citizenship within our students, and 3) inspire the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the joy of growth and the increased ability to accomplish good. Teaching is tough work; but watching students succeed and develop, makes every challenge worthwhile.”

Taylor Elementary–Becky Newton

“If there was one phrase that represented my philosophy of teaching, it would be that all students can learn at high levels. I am passionate about student progress and growth. The most inspirational sight is seeing a struggling child gain confidence in their own abilities and realize their limitless potential. Making a difference in young lives each day has made all the difference in my life. I believe that when students take responsibility for their own achievement, that is when they move toward success. I have found that high expectations bring remarkable results.”

Wilson Elementary–Dan Hansen

“I really enjoy teaching when I can see the light clicks on in the students’ minds, and I can feel their excitement in what they are learning. Students seem to express a similar sense of joy or happiness when the light turns on in their minds about something that we are studying. A good teacher should also be an example of a good student and should always be looking for ways to improve his teaching. I always strive to be prepared by knowing the materials, having visuals prepared, and organizing the lesson in an understandable and meaningful way. As students use their time and abilities to learn and demonstrate what they have learned, they will be able to use these skills to improve their future opportunities.”

Goshen Area

Goshen Elementary–Margaret Allinson

“My philosophy of teaching is that a use of a vast variety of teaching strategies that integrate art, dance and music, plus manipulative materials, technology and strategic grouping not only adds interest, but helps the students discover which meta-cognitive style learner they are. There is no greater gift a teacher can give a student than helping them better understand what makes learning easier for them. I feel that establishing a safe and caring classroom is absolutely essential to student achievement. Without a safe environment, many students won’t take the risks necessary to learn.”

Santaquin Area

Orchard Hills Elementary–Gwen Wride

“Through the years, I have learned that enthusiasm is contagious in the classroom. One of my favorite quotes about enthusiasm is ‘Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.’ One of the most important things I can do is to inspire my students to excel and to develop a lifelong love of learning. I want my students to grow in their abilities to be independent learners, problem solvers, and deep thinkers. If I can present concepts with enthusiasm, I motivate my students to be curious and seek even more knowledge.”

Santaquin Elementary–Trina Ellis

“Teaching is my life, whether it is in the public classroom, community involvement, service for my church, or at home. I have been and continue to be taught with love and respect. My goal is to make sure those I teach know that I love what I do, and I want to help them become the best they can be. Modeling respect, love for learning, and hard work will help me reach the goals I have set for myself and my students. Every human being has strengths and weaknesses. It is my responsibility to strengthen both of these and help students realize what they can become.”

Salem Area

Foothills Elementary–Robin Burnah

“As a first-grade teacher, I feel that the most important thing I can do to help children be successful in school is to get to know them individually and to let them know I care. I believe that if there is a positive environment in my classroom, children will love to learn. I want to instill in every student the love of learning and a motivation to be the best they can be. I believe that if students are given high expectations, they can become all that they are capable of becoming.”

Mt. Loafer Elementary–Don Applegate

“My educational philosophy is centered in the belief that each individual entering my classroom, regardless of culture or upbringing, is a child of infinite worth with unlimited potential. My quest as a teacher is to awake the ‘sleeping giant’ in every child, encouraging him/her to question, to seek knowledge, and to discover the wonders of this world. The educational opportunities and experiences I provide should be significantly relevant, thought provoking, and motivational; thus, empowering children to become lifelong learners.”

Salem Elementary–Chris Vest

“I love kids! I love working with kids and enjoy watching them learn and grow. I have found in working with children that they will do almost anything you want them to do if you set the right expectations. I tell my students to give me your best effort in all you do each day. I have a lot of interaction and dialogue with my students and use humor in class to lighten anxiety and ease feelings of inadequacy or inferiority. Most of all, I let students know that I care about them, that I’m interested in their lives, and want them to be successful in and out of the classroom.”

Spanish Fork Area

Brockbank Elementary–Kara Mikesell

“Kara is a fun, caring, and dedicated teacher. She provides students with wonderful learning opportunities which make her classroom an interesting place to be. Kara honestly cares about her students and wants to know about their interests and hobbies. She is dedicated to the growth of all students and puts in the time necessary to plan fun activities and lessons that are engaging for all learning styles. Kara is willing to sacrifice her planning and recess time to help students who struggle with concepts. She wants each student to be the best they can be.”

Canyon Elementary–Jeanette Maughan

“I believe teaching is the best profession on earth! Every day is a new adventure. There are disappointments when you work and work with a student, and he/she just doesn’t seem to understand. Then suddenly the ‘light’ comes. Nothing can match that experience. It is a privilege to work with children. When I stop to think that each of my students mean more than anything else in the world to their parents, I am overwhelmed with the responsibility. Even though it’s a big order, I believe that I can still ‘enjoy the ride,’ laugh everyday and love life. After all, I am a teacher!”

East Meadows–Neeley Kay
Nebo School District Teacher of the Year 2009-2010 Neeley Kay

“I believe that I not only have a responsibility to teach children the academic skills they will need to prosper in this world; but just as important, I have the responsibility of teaching them how to become a productive part of the family and community in which they live. I absolutely love teaching students who struggle with emotional behavior disorders. They are wonderful children who are learning positive and appropriate ways to interact with others and express their frustration. Although some days are tiring, I couldn’t imagine spending them any other way.”

Larsen Elementary–Kathleen Johnson

“Teaching has never been just any career for me. It has been the only career for me. I can think of no more noble profession. Every day is a new adventure and a new miracle. Teaching is truly a labor of love. Even if I was never paid, I would feel that teaching our youth would be something I would want and need to do. I agree with Haim G. Ginott when he stated: ‘Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that, at times, teachers accomplish this impossible task.’ I will continue to hope and pray that I do just that!”

Park Elementary–Shelley Emery

“My philosophy of teaching is that every child deserves to learn in a safe, loving environment with teachers who expect only the best from students. Students need to feel they are loved and respected. All students need to be fully engaged in their learning and held to high standards to do their individual best. Even though teaching the core curriculum concepts is important, guiding students to develop high moral standards and values is equally important so they can make this world a better place for themselves and their posterity and give back to their community and nation.”

Rees Elementary–Jacquelyn Searle

“In my classroom, I have a sign that reads, ‘Childhood should be a journey, not a race.’ Learning is not about being the fastest or having the highest score. It is about sharing ideas, exploring, and learning as we experience new ideas and concepts. It is my desire to provide for my students an environment that is safe to explore, discover, learn, and share ideas. I want each child to leave my class knowing that they are someone special. My desire is to inspire and motivate my students on their educational journey so they can obtain their fullest potential.”

Riverview Elementary–D. Charles Thorpe

“As a teacher, I find it to be a great joy to see the ‘ah ha’ moments and to see the status and growth even after the students have long ago left my classroom. When the students grasp the concepts taught, it is a great moment for the student and the teacher. Education is more than just the hours in a school building. Learning is an everyday, lifelong process, and I am honored to be part of that process.”

Spanish Oaks Elementary–Jenifer Peterson

“Teaching for me is not just a profession but a lifestyle. The thrill of learning new concepts and ideas becomes truly satisfying when it is shared with the bright, curious minds of my students. For me, there is no greater joy than creating choices and opportunities for students and watching them apply the concepts at unexpected moments. One becomes emotionally attached through these shared teaching moments. A wise teacher understands the critical importance of working with an interactive professional learning community and incorporating the talents and knowledge of others to ensure a meaningful experience for each child as their individual needs are accommodated.”