Call for Nominations through March 25, 2016
Nominations for the 2016 Huntsman Awards for Excellence in Education are now being solicited by the Awards Committee and will be accepted through 5:00 p.m., on Friday, March 25, 2016.
Each year the Huntsman family presents a check for $10,000 and a crystal obelisk to each of eleven outstanding Utah public educators: six teachers, three administrators, one volunteer, and one special education teacher. Nominations are received from throughout the state and reviewed by a board consisting of some of the Utah’s most prominent citizens and eminent educators, including past award winners. The 2016 recipients will be announced in late April, and the Awards will be presented at a banquet in Salt Lake City on May 13, 2016.
One of Weber District's most beloved music teachers, Niels Hansen of South Ogden Junior High, was honored at the February Board Meeting with the "I Love Teaching Award." Mr. Hansen was nominated by Principal Michele Parry, who stated, "I've seen many of his students completely change, becoming better students in other subject areas, and even leaders in the school, because he believed in them and gave them a chance to find their niche." Aside from the fact that Mr. Hansen is a fabulous music teacher who puts on delightful concerts with his students, most importantly, he is a model and a mentor to children and peers alike. As Mrs. Parry states, "Teaching isn't just what he does, it's who he is."
In a world where children are increasingly more immersed in technology and electronics, music education is more important than ever. Albert Einstein once said, "I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music." As this wise man knew, music teaches children math in rhythms, physical education in coordination of hands and fingers, and science in acoustics and volume. Music is education of the whole being.
For 15 years, Jill LaFeber of South Ogden Junior High has been caring for hundreds of staff members and students at South Ogden Junior High. Mrs. Parry, who also nominated Mrs. LaFeber, said that every student, teacher, parent, or staff member walks into the main office sure to be greeted by a smile. While she is meticulous in her secretarial duties, it is her loving dedication to each student that really makes her stand out. Mrs. Parry wrote of several examples where Jill has gone above and beyond the scope of her job responsibilities to make sure that students are cared for and nurtured in the school environment, from customizing a locker for an exceptionally small 7th grade to taking extra care of an injured student. Mrs. LaFeber was given the "Extra Mile Award" for the many years of loving service that she has given to our District.
Congratulations to these two wonderful individuals.
Kanesville Elementary students Sophia and Sabrina Johnson's dad Jeremy is a big Miami Dolphins fan. So when the sisters saw a news story about a Tayton Timothy, the little girl from Delta who had been injured in an accident, they noticed that she was wearing a Miami Dolphins jersey in her photo. The sisters thought that they would like to send Tayton a care package to buoy her spirits and help speed her recovery. When Principal Scott Zellmer learned of the girls' plan, he suggested that the school do a mini fundraiser to purchase Dolphins gear for Tayton. Little did he know that his little fundraiser was about to snowball into a huge outpouring of love and support from the Kanesville community to a little girl whom they had never met.
The students began selling paper dolphins for $1.00. Kids were able to sign their names on the dolphins and hang them up in the halls. Alicia Johnson-Coats, an ESL Aide at Kanesville, stated that kids were literally emptying out their piggy banks to buy dolphins for Tayton. Within three days' time, students had raised an astounding $4,200 to help defray mounting medical bills and travel expenses. With the help of Mrs. Johnson-Coats, students put together a video presentation to send to the hospital. When Tayton's family received the video and learned of the effort at Kanesville, they decided to pay a visit for themselves. Mr. Zellmer called an assembly, and along with his student body, presented Sammi Timothy (Tayton's mother) with the money that had been raised. Sammi tearfully thanked the students for their love and support, and stated that Tayton was well on her way to recovery. She was grateful for the joy they had given her daughter, who as of last night, was able to watch movies and laugh with her family.
Sophia Johnson's teacher, Stacy Rountree, states that she is not surprised at the lengths the two sisters went to in order to help a stranger. She said that she has witnessed many instances where Sophia has shown kindness towards her peers, and has even anonymously helped other students in need. Sophia and Sabrina, along with the Kanesville Student Council, worked tirelessly to help raise money for a child who began as a stranger, and is now a friend to the entire student body at Kanesville Elementary. In today's assembly, Sammi promised the students that Tayton will make a personal visit to thank them when her health allows.
Lisa Gilstrap, Principal at Green Acres Elementary nominated Mrs. Karen Vause for the "I Love Teaching" Award for the month of January. Specifically, Mrs. Gilstrap stated that Karen is a "truly gifted teacher and loves doing it." Karen diligently works to make sure that all of her students are successful, and has wonderful way of nurturing and teaching her special needs students. Karen is knowledgeable about collaborative team processes, best teaching practices, academic standards, and assessment. Her knowledge in these areas have proven to be very beneficial to the school improvement process at Green Acres. Mrs. Gilstrap says that Karen has "shown incredible grace under difficult circumstances, keeping the students interests always at the forefront." We are pleased to recognize this gifted teacher, and thank her for her contributions to our students.
In the summer of 2012, Mrs. Kara Liston became the chair for the Christmas Tree Jubilee Committee. This month, Kara was recognized for the "Volunteer Award" to recognize her invaluable contributions towards the success of the Jubilee. When joining the committee, Kara brought with her "organizational and management skills from private business, a knowledge of the community, a desire to serve our children, but mostly the heart needed to ensure success." Mr. Zimmerman explains that it is essential that a chairperson not only provide time and skill, but more importantly, that they possess heart. He stated, "Kara was probably too busy to take on the Jubilee...however, she had the heart." Since 2012, the Jubilee has raised over 1 million dollars to benefit our students, a wonderful milestone that is no doubt due in part to Kara’s leadership and service. The Weber School District was honored to recognize Kara this month with the "Volunteer Award."
The Christmas Tree Jubilee has become a cherished holiday tradition for many Ogden-area families and residents. Each year this event raises funds needed to support Weber School District students in many special programs: Science, art, athletic, and music programs, "All Ability" playgrounds, and field trips for elementary school children to name a few. The organization of the Jubilee is a massive undertaking requiring hundreds of willing hands and hearts.
The weather outside might be frightful, but students at Weber School District schools are doing their best to make sure that the most vulnerable in our midst are warm and well-fed this holiday season. Each junior high and high school in the district has embarked on fundraising drives to raise money and to collect food, toys, and clothing for needy families. The methods employed may differ, but the goal is one and the same. To bring joy to children and their families.
Fremont High School's student government is busy raising money for the Kash-4-Kids charity drive. Funds raised will go help disadvantaged students with everything from clothing purchases to medical bills. At Bonneville High, students look forward to the annual Shop with a Hero trip. This program raises money for police officers to take children Christmas shopping. The Weber High School student body is embarking on a fundraiser called "Live Hannah's Hope" for suicide awareness. Funds raised will be used to purchase food and goods for needy families. At Roy High, the annual Sub for Santa campaign is in full swing. They are also holding a coat drive to make sure that little ones stay warm during the cold winter months.
Junior high and elementary students have also caught the spirit of giving. Combined, the nine junior high schools in our district have managed to donate over 15,000 cans of food along with other goods for the Utah Food Bank and other local charitable donations to make sure that families will have enough to eat during the holidays.
We proudly commend the students, faculty, and staff of our secondary schools for their generosity and charitable spirit. It is no doubt that many children and families will be blessed by their contributions. It is our wish for all to have a peaceful holiday season and memorial New Year.
A well-run school is the result of hard work and dedication from a variety of professionals. Much of this hard work goes on "behind the scenes" by unsung heroes. Each month, the Weber School District recognizes employees who have been nominated by their peers and supervisors for their extraordinary professionalism. During the December School Board meeting, we had the chance to highlight Mr. Fred Smith, Teacher at Fremont High School, and Ms. Carrie Pilot, Head Secretary at Weber Innovation High School.
It is no secret that Head Secretaries often wear many hats. Carrie Pilot of Weber Innovation High School epitomizes this notion. Ms. Pilot is not only Head Secretary at WIC, she is also Head Secretary for Weber Online and Weber Online-Home School. Mr. Reid Newey nominated Carrie for the Extra Mile Award after witnessing her amazing ability to juggle multiple responsibilities and challenges with "grace, patience and complete professional competence." Weber Innovation Center is in its first year of operation. During the past year, Carrie has quite literally built a school from the ground up. Mr. Newey stated that as an administrator, he has come to depend on Carrie knowing that she will handle everything without problem or issue. Students at WIC love Ms. Pilot. Her warm and accepting attitude makes everyone feel immediately at ease, knowing that she is willing to help them with whatever issues they may have. As Mr. Newey wrote, "She is an amazing person, a great friend to all, and a very deserving nominee for the Extra Mile Award!"
Mr. Fred Smith has been teaching in the district for ten years. He serves as the digital media teacher as well as the head and assistant coach in soccer at Fremont High School. Fred has a passion for what he teaches and that passion shines through to his students, which is why his classes are filled every year. Many of his former students have pursued careers in digital media as a direct result of their experience at Fremont High School in Mr. Smith’s classes. Dr. Rod Belnap nominated Mr. Smith for the I Love Teaching Award, stating that he is what they call a "warm demander", that is "someone who is genuine, a cheerleader, and support of young people ... but also someone who has clear, fair expectations." Mr. Smith has made a substantial contribution to Fremont High through his professional publicity and quality media projects. His most recent project has been the "Fremont Spirit Video". This was a huge undertaking, requiring 2000 students to be in a designated place at the same time, demonstrating school pride and enthusiasm. The resulting video was nothing short of impressive. It plays on the TV system schoolwide and is a source of great pride to students and staff alike. Dr. Belnap wrote, "Fred sees students for whom they can become, not for who they are at the immediate present and helps them envision careers in things they may not have thought possible before."
Congratulations to these two individuals on their well-deserved awards. We are honored to recognize their spirit and hard work. Thank you for all you do every day to create a successful school experience for our students.
Utahns by nature are innovative and resourceful, traits long evidenced by a robust STEM industry in our state. The Weber School District is committed to encouraging and promoting STEM-based opportunities to align educational goals with workforce needs to ensure economic growth and prosperity. Recently, WSD kicked off its annual STEM Expo along with the Davis and Morgan School Districts. Nearly 800 students convened on the Davis Conference Center in Layton to learn and explore the endless possibilities of a career in science and technology.
The convention hall was filled with 50 employer, military, and academic booths, there for the sole purpose of allowing teachers and students to explore the many opportunities that education in science, technology, engineering, and math can afford them. Unlike a job fair, the STEM Expo is a chance for students to become acquainted with career paths and the educational requirements associated with their field of interest.
Mr. Alan Hall, Chairman of Prosperity 2020, spoke to students about the thousands of STEM-related jobs that will be available to them upon graduation. He stated that in order to fulfill the demands of the workforce of the future, high school graduation rates in Utah need to jump from the current 80 percent rate to at least 90 percent. He noted that technical programs are often over looked by scientifically-minded students because of the misconceived notion that these are "blue collar" and therefore, low-paying jobs. Mr. Hall used the analogy of a pyramid to defray this notion. He emphasized the fact that employees who are technically certified are the ones who actually "put on the nuts and bolts and do the welding and build the technology." He explained that there were high-paying jobs and wonderful opportunities up and down the pyramid.
Science Curriculum Specialist Matthew Patterson's goal for the Expo was that students leave with an understanding of the many meaningful and important jobs that exist; jobs that enable students to make a difference in the world while also providing satisfying and lucrative career choices. Many students were able to make these connections and came away with a better understanding of how to align their educational resources with their career interests.
November is a month to reflect on thankfulness, and at this month's board meeting, the Weber School District was honored to express our gratitude and thankfulness to five very deserving award winners. Roosevelt Elementary's 4th grade team was nominated for the E+ Team ward by Principal Justin Skeen. Additionally, Mr. Harold Chapman was nominated for the Volunteerism Award by Principal Phil Nestoryak of North Ogden Elementary.
Brittany Ryan, Katie Hill, Shannon Nielson, and Tracie Davies are the talented and dedicated ladies who comprise the Roosevelt Elementary 4th Grade teaching team. Mr. Skeen nominated the team because he believes that they "exemplify embracing a process of consistent application of research-based strategies for creating a unified approach to teaching and learning." Essentially, the faculty and administration at Roosevelt Elementary believe in collaborating as teaching professionals to plan and apply learning strategies consistently at all grade levels to ensure student success. Each week during PLC meetings, the 4th grade team actively participate and communicate in implementing learning strategies. Most importantly, they utilize one another's strengths for greater impact on student learning. An indicator of the dedication of this team is the approach they have taken to improve math instruction. Focusing on individual student needs by routinely assessing their comprehension, focusing on weak areas, and encouraging the kids to keep trying resulted in a 20% increase in summative proficiency the first year alone. Mr. Skeen stated, "Each teacher's commitment level for student success extends beyond their classroom to the entire grade. Each teacher takes on a unique ownership of individual student progress."
As an Americorps volunteer, Mr. Harold Chapman donates his time twice a week to help mentor young children who are struggling with their reading ability. Marci Thomas, North Ogden Elementary Americorps Coordinator stated that, "the students Harold works with always form a special bond with Harold and he can make even the most timid student feel comfortable." At 94 years of age, Mr. Chapman "radiates cheerfulness and happiness". As a father and grandfather, he has the patience and love to allow children to take risks without fear. They know that no matter what, Mr. Chapman will gently encourage and praise them as they gain skill in their reading ability. Mr. Phil Nestoryak nominated Mr. Chapman for the Volunteerism Award for his exemplary dedication to North Ogden Elementary. One year after a particularly hard hitting wind storm in the North Ogden community, a large tree fell upon Mr. Chapman's garage roof, causing considerable damage. While most people would stay home to take care of the situation, Harold chose instead to report for duty at the school as he knew the children were depending on him. Mr. Nestoryak wrote, "True service is looking beyond personal needs and helping others." He went on to say, "The North Ogden Eagles have a true hero volunteering at our school who is a positive influence and a great asset not only to our reading program, but to our school as a whole."
Congratulations to these deserving award winners. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to recognize your unique gifts and talents. We express our gratitude for your dedication and enthusiasm!
This month the Weber School District was given the opportunity to recognize Ms. Christine Ferrario and the Hooper Elementary 6th Grade Teaching Team during our monthly school board meeting. Ms. Ferrario was nominated for the "I Love Teaching" award by former Canyon View Principal Jennifer Warren and the Hooper 6th Grade Team was nominated for the "E+ Teaching" award by Principal David Gerstheimer of Hooper Elementary.
Ms. Christine Ferrario is a Speech and Language Pathologist at our Canyon View campus. This facility is a supportive learning environment for students with disabilities who require supervised special education services for social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Christine serves a daunting 104 students. Often, her job can be "difficult" and "emotionally draining." Former Principal Kelli Booth commented that, "In those moments she shows patience, empathy and a never-give-up attitude." Christine treats even the most challenging students with respect and care. She is innovative and always looking for ways to implement new speech therapy modalities. Christine has implemented a process by which to supplement speech therapy at home, and recent data has shown the results to be incredibly positive. Data show that this program has "sky rocketed" student outcomes. Mrs. Booth stated that Christine "goes out of her way to interact with our students even when they are not on the 'speech therapy' clock. This is a true reflection of her innate nature and her love of children."
Stacy Tonioli, Sheri Leak, and Sandy Porter are the three dynamic ladies who make up the Hooper Elementary 6th Grade Team. They are affectionately known as the "Fab 3." Mr. Gerstheimer says that these ladies are "master teachers" who have a way of "engaging their kids" in a way that brings out the best in them. A key component to this team's teaching success is creating lesson plans that contain exciting ideas to help spark student interest -- a highly motivational approach. The team has an understanding of the state core, and uses this understanding to help students make connections to the real world. Because they have excellent classroom control, the children have learned how to effectively manage their time with limited supervision; a skill that is helping the children work towards independence. Mr. Gerstheimer states, "I am appreciative to have them on our staff at Hooper and look forward to their continued success working with the students for years to come."
Congratulations to these deserving award winners. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to recognize your unique gifts and talents. We express our gratitude for your dedication and enthusiasm!