Eleven educators have been bestowed with the Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education, which includes a $10,000 cash award.
The awards are designed to recognize, encourage and reward school workers, draw attention to educators' achievement and kindle interest in the profession.Honorees were nominated by letter-writing colleagues and parents. The following are excerpts:
- Many a Rosslyn Heights first-grader seeks the "Mrs. Bitner experience," as Louise Bitner's classroom is dubbed in some circles. The 28-year educator may be seen at student birthday parties, baseball games or gathering pupils to visit an ill classmate at Primary Children's Medical Center.
"Mrs. Bitner's positive attitude and true concern, combined with excellent teaching skills, have given Allie and all her students a jump start on their education and even more important a very positive self-image," wrote parents Kirk and Nata Schneider. Their daughter, Allie, was born with spina bifida.
- Suzanne Michelle Evans, a sixth-grade teacher at Valley Elementary in Huntsville and 12-year teacher in the Weber School District, is noted for urging peers and pupils to plunge into learning and service projects for homeless children and ill students.
"Her skill in teaching across the curriculum - reading writing, math, values and thinking skills - is tremendous. What a refreshing experience it is to have a teacher instill the love of learning in a young mind," wrote Suzanne Ellison, Ogden High assistant principal, whose daughter was Evans' student.
- Lawrence L. Burton, a social studies teacher at Thomas Jefferson Junior High in Kearns, is noted for his fairness to students and parents throughout his 28-year career and heading the district's Constitution Bowl.
"When I think of Larry Burton teaching and working with his students, I get a lump in my throat, a tear in my eye and swelling in my chest . . . because he is an inspiration . . . he is what education should be in its highest form," wrote W. Scott Whipple, executive director of the Granite Education Foundation.
- Frankie McCandless, a special education teacher versed in behavioral disorders, is called an "oasis of stability" at Salt Lake's Glendale Middle School, among Utah's most culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged.
"She possesses a tremendous capacity for compassion and understanding in working with a large, difficult population," assistant principal Jeffrey Herr wrote. "Whatever she has, if I could sprinkle it over new teachers, I would."
- Even life's unexpected turns can't dim Roz Capell's passion for teaching.
Told she wouldn't teach following injuries suffered in an auto accident, Capell was assigned to teach at-risk students at Mountain View High in the Alpine School District. There, she helps struggling students graduate on time, showering them with attention and phoning them when they miss class.
"I will remember Roz as a teacher who epitomizes everything that is right with today's education and the lesson she taught young and old to see the hero deep inside," wrote Beverly Redd, a former PTA president.
- Wasatch High English teacher John S. Moss has produced a character education training video used nationwide and implemented a "10-year plan" project, where students map out the next decade of their lives. It is used statewide.
"Mr. Moss exposes the students to learning which can be used each day in their growing and developing into well-rounded, value-centered citizens," wrote parent Barbara Hansen.
- Brent L. Palmer, principal of Bluffdale Elementary in the Jordan District, is noted for remembering each student's birthday and participating in school activities while defending the best interests of students.
"When Mr. Palmer was my principal, he inspired me to be a better teacher. As a fellow principal, I wanted to be like him. Now, as one of his supervisors, I am grateful for the care he brings to his work," wrote Jordan Assistant Superintendent Brenda Hales.
- Carl L. Bruce for seven years has led Snowcrest Junior High in the Weber School District, known as a model school with enrichments and parental involvement under its Modified Centennial School status.
"Carl Bruce is a rare indivicual, a rare jewel who actually does make the best interests of each child the standard by which everything in his school and his sphere of influence must be judged," wrote attorney and parent Jeffry Burton.
- Dean Collett has been an educator and is now a counselor at Salt Lake's Highland High since it opened its doors 42 years ago. He is noted for his sensitivity to troubled students, leading student tours abroad and financing scholarships for students in need.
"I challenge anyone to find an educator anywhere who has given so much to so many for so long. He is the heart and soul of the Highland community," wrote Connie Cannon, Highland PTSA president.
- LaVona Wakley has spent 30 years volunteering in schools, and is now an in-school placement aide at Willow Valley Middle School in Hyrum in the Cache School District. She commutes every other day from Downey, Idaho. She is praised for her helpfulness, dedication and rapport with students, teachers and parents.
"We dread the time she might retire because she can't be replaced," wrote Willow Valley counselor Jay B. Low. "They don't make `em like her anymore."
- Gilbert E. Gooch is a volunteer at Salt Lake's Meadowlark Elementary. Called "Grandpa Gooch," the former speech pathologist creates stories with sound combinations to aid speech-impaired students and beginning readers.
"He also helped me . . . to become more aware of the developmental speech needs in my young children," teacher Karen Atwood wrote. " `Grandpa Gooch' is a loving and nurturing person who has left lasting impressions on many children in our community."