Attributions: 
Lana Hiskey
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Teachers of the Year 2014-2015

Nebo District Teacher of the Year-- Diane Hamilton

Diane Hamilton, Springville Junior High
“Diane is one of the most dedicated educators I know. She is an intelligent, hardworking educator who is recognized as an influential leader on the faculty. She serves on several key committees such as flextime, Youth Support, and as a teacher mentor as well as the Special Education Department Head. Miss Hamilton’s advice and opinion are regularly sought by her colleagues. She gives even more to her students. She is approachable and a reasonable problem solver. Miss Hamilton writes engaging and relevant lessons that are delivered with good humor and competence.”

Diane said, “Teaching is about building and inspiring confidence in my students in a safe, caring environment. I love working with students with learning disabilities because I get to be a part of their journey as they discover that they can learn and do hard things.  One of my roles is to guide my students through their moment of frustration and help them see that mistakes are opportunities for growth and learning. My goal is for my students to know how much I care for them as individuals and that they can be successful through hard work and perseverance.

Melinda Barber, Diamond Fork Junior High
“Melinda is one of the best hires I have ever made. Melinda is amazing and puts her heart and soul into teaching. She is always looking at how she can give students the best learning experience possible. She is innovative and forward thinking. Melinda is passionate and fair. Students thrive in her class. Melinda is currently the department head and doing a fantastic job. She is a collaborative team player willing to learn new things and strive for what is best for students.”

Melinda said, “I work to create a welcoming environment, checking for understanding, differentiating instruction, critical thinking, and cooperative learning.  I keep in the back of my mind to be that teacher that inspires students to love what they are learning. Help students develop a sense of self-worth through achievement. Let students know they are valued. And finally, at the end of the semester, be that teacher who makes students a little sad to leave my classroom because of what the student learned and felt.”

Holly Tippetts, Mapleton Junior High 
“Holly creates something magical in her classroom. Students are happily engaged in creating, analyzing, and synthesizing thought provoking material. Students are entrenched in meaningful learning! Holly has created an inviting, warm, positive, energetic classroom culture. She instills a love for learning in her students. Holly is one of the best teachers and instructional leaders I have had the opportunity to work with. Her positive attitude, confidence, creativity and deep understanding of student learning is remarkable.”

Holly said, “As a teacher of English language, literature, and communication, I aim to provide students the skill set necessary to tackle any type of text so that they may participate in and improve their world and future. Without literacy, they cannot be competent citizens and contributors to their own life. To this end, I believe in continually adapting curriculum, developing teaching strategies, and honestly collaborating to engage all students to reach higher standards of critical thinking, problem-solving, and develop moral character. At the end of a teaching day, I want my students to walk away knowing my passion, feeling their potential, and understanding they are cared for and important. Their success is my honor. What a thrill is is to be able to work with them every day.”

Kirk Wright, Mt. Nebo Junior High
"Kirk has a passion for learning and application of knowledge. He has embraced the science fair and requests all students to participate through projects, experiments, writings, and posters. If you go by his class, you can hear the passion in his voice and the enthusiasm that drives all of his lessons.”

Kirk said, “I have a pillar philosophy of teaching. These pillars are diversity, depth, breadth, passion, and law. The first pillar refers to our students and that each of them is a unique individual with a diverse set of strengths and needs. The next two pillars refer to myself as a teacher. As a teacher I need a deep background in the subject I teach. I also need to have a broad education in many other areas. The more I can identify with a student’s interest the more I can help them achieve success. The last two pillars refer to the students I teach. Each student has an individual passion that if I can help them to connect their passion in some way to what I teach that will energize their desire to learn. The last pillar refers to laws or boundaries that a student needs to be aware of as they move through school or into life. These pillars provide me with a strategy to help students be the best they can while providing them with a good education and great opportunities.”

Bryce Bird, Payson Junior High
“Bryce is truly an asset to our school. He is thorough in the classroom and is extremely helpful when we have technology needs. He thinks ahead and plans to meet not only his students’ needs, but the needs of the entire school. He is highly involved in extra-curricular activities as well.”
Bryce said, “The student is my priority. My teaching goal is to help students learn content, citizenship practices, interpersonal skills, 21st Century technology skills, and more. They need these skills to be more successful in a dynamic world. I believe students do their best learning when they have a framework or vision. With this framework students can be free to explore, write, think critically, create and question.”

Nikki Mendenhall, Salem Junior High
“Mrs. Mendenhall is a fabulous teacher who truly focuses on the individual. In the morning before school, she is often helping students with their math. On hall duty, she is welcoming students to school. Whenever we have someone new to the school, Nikki is the one who will help them feel welcome and make sure they have what they need. She is willing to take on additional responsibilities and get involved in improvement areas for Salem Junior. Nikki is a true professional.”

Nikki said, “I believe that in order to teach anyone, you need to love them. Sometimes that is hard to do; but sometimes, that is all we can do. In either case, if the student knows that I care about them, that is more important to me than learning any math.”

David Huff, Spanish Fork Junior High
“Mr. Huff is a remarkable teacher. Throughout his career he has taught band, math, Chinese, social studies, summer school and served as Dean of Students. No matter the assignment, Dave has proved successful. Teachers and students enjoy working with someone that is so knowledgeable, and one that is so willing to share and help others become better.”

David said, “My philosophy has always been to help students learn to love learning. Children have a natural curiosity about the world, and teachers play a critical role in satisfying their desire to explore and learn. I believe quality instruction, guided learning activities, and a caring environment mixed with humor empower students to achieve personal success and confidence in an ever changing world.”

Kyle Francom, Landmark High
“Kyle is a breath of fresh air in our organization. Kyle uses many teaching modalities to capture each student’s interest in the subjects he teaches. He is a master of scaffolding lesson material and making the lesson meaningful for students with many different abilities. Kyle works to make himself a better educator. He attends workshops on instructional design, curriculum delivery, and positive classroom environment and culture. Kyle’s use of technology and instructional innovation makes learning come alive for his students.”

Kyle said, “My teaching philosophy revolves around relationships. Many of my students have a negative perception of school and their academic abilities. Instilling confidence in their ability to learn and grow is vital, and the most effective way to do that is establish a relationship in which they know that we care about them as a person. Once we do that, kids will work.”

Kathryn Crandall, Maple Mountain High
“Kathryn is a wonderful example of an outstanding teacher. She is full of enthusiasm and energy–our very own ‘Ever Ready Bunny’. Kathryn was in charge of ordering everything for a new school that included equipment and supplies for clothing, foods, and parenting classes as well as a nursery school. Kathryn provides many hours of service-oriented activities for students throughout our school and community. One of her students received an award and trip from the governor for a service learning project. As one enters Kathryn’s classroom, you can feel the excitement from the students interacting with each other. Kathryn has an excitement and love of teaching.”

Kathryn said, “I have always been a believer in students of any age. When we show students that we believe in them and teach them to believe in themselves, they can make anything happen. Teaching has always been rewarding as I’m constantly learning and growing. I’ve learned to listen and learn from my students as they listen to me. Students have amazing ideas and when students see us embrace their input, they feel respected, more valued and are more willing to do whatever they can to help the class or school succeed. It has been my privilege to guide students as they have developed the knowledge and skills to become an integral part of our community. There is nothing more exciting than watching youth empowered as they put their education to work at valuable life service and they know in their hearts that they can do anything!”

Justin Meyer, Payson High 
“Justin has proven to be an excellent math teacher that is student-friendly and willing to help in many different ways around the school. He is professional and prepared. His teaching style is conducive to the overall climate of the school. Justin spends countless hours preparing material and grading student work to be prepared for the following day. He volunteers to staff the math lab after school. Justin is compassionate and helps students master difficult concepts.”

Justin said, “My philosophy of teaching is that each student deserves a quality education. Each student is unique and has their own strengths as well as their own weaknesses. Each should be graded based on their master of the content. Students and their parents are the customers in the education enterprise. It is my responsibility to acknowledge and value the customer and maintain a cordial and professional relationship with them both inside and outside the school.”

Keith Richards, Salem Hills High
“Keith Richards is leading our math program to new heights. Our math scores are some of the highest in the district. He cares about his students and will do anything to help them. Keith is innovative and always looking for ways to improve and is a leader in our school-wide focus on student learning. Keith is the kind of teacher I would want my own children to have.” 

Keith said, “My philosophy of teaching is like the story of throwing the starfish back into the sea. I think the public school system with teachers, counselors, and administrators, can be the ones that make the difference in every child. Students can feel proud and confident as they are able to see themselves succeed in life and in school.  The day a student feels an inner sense of accomplishment and worth, it is then that they have what it takes to be a better citizen, father, mother, friend, and leader in the word. They will be able to conquer their dreams.” 

Deon Youd, Spanish Fork High
“Deon is a priceless gem. She is the English Department Chair, student council advisor, team leader, PLC specialist, and a model for teachers to follow. Our English department and school are fantastic because of her contributions. She is always striving to improve herself with advanced degrees, professional development, and is a fantastic instructional leader. Deon has a strong, caring heart and influence for greatness on campus.”

Deon said, “‘Ancora Imparo: still I am learning.’ This quotation from Michelangelo hangs above the windows in my classroom. Daily it reminds me of what is most important to me about education and teaching, that learning never ends. I have spent my life learning both in and out of classroom. I have had teachers who have challenged me to become a better thinker, a better writer, a better communicator. This type of teaching and learning sets the standard I have for myself and my classroom. The best knowledge I can give to my students is the ability to think for themselves and the understanding that their education does not end at the school’s doors.”

 Lanell B. Rabner, Springville High
“Lanell is outstanding in many areas. She has a vision of what she wants our students to accomplish. Whether she is speaking to a student who is an honor student or a special needs student, she is always invested in their learning. She has the respect of the students at Springville High. Lanell is conscientious and has a super work ethic. She is always ‘teaching’ and the students are really learning in her research classes. Lanell guides and mentors our students through the scholarship program. She truly makes a difference in student learning at Springville High.”

Lanell said, “My philosophy of teaching was forged on the Gettysburg Battlefield as a new Park Ranger/Historian at Gettysburg. At Gettysburg I experienced firsthand how the marriage of good teaching and research could change lives. As a librarian, I have always been a teacher. When helping students find a book, I teach computer literacy. When helping them create an accurate MLA citation, I teach information literacy. When giving them tips for reading an informational text, I teach life-long learning. When placing a good book in their hands, I teach them to fly to other worlds and contemplate their own aspirations and dreams.”