Central Utah Academy teacher Mark Lyons wins Teacher of the Year award

The entire staff of the high school at Central Utah Correctional Facility, Central Utah Academy, celebrated a “Teacher of the Year” title for Mark Lyons at Palisade Grill last Wednesday. (Left to right): Mark Lyons, Lisa Burrell, Rachel Faucett, Leslie Roberts, Rebecca Thompson, Andrew Peterson, Dawn Rae Peterson, Principal George Henrie, Lee Bjjerregaard, Paul Christenson and his wife Michelle, Counselor Anthony Blauer, and Sharon Pinkerton.


Central Utah Academy teacher Mark Lyons wins Teacher of the Year award




GUNNISON—The Adult Education Association of Utah chose Mark Lyons, English teacher at Central Utah Academy (CUA), as this year’s Teacher of the Year.

Every September, the CUA staff, which teaches at the high school at the Central Utah Correctional Facility, attends a conference for those who teach adults. The teachers attend two days of classes with educators who work in prisons, alternative schools, and community colleges.

The coronavirus forced the conference into Zoom format, so the CUA staff met at Palisade Grill last Wednesday, Sept. 23 to celebrate.

The celebration was kept secret from Lyons, who didn’t suspect anything until a prison guard congratulated him prematurely. Fellow teacher Andy Peterson nominated Lyons for the honor with this tribute:


“After more than twenty years as a high school English and drama teacher, Mark transitioned into adult education some five years ago. Multiple sclerosis has eroded his mobility somewhat but has done nothing to dim his contagious enthusiasm for helping others learn and connecting them to literature. As an adult educator, Mark has swum upstream and insisted on didactic and active instruction, he earns his paycheck through intense lesson planning and engaging classroom instruction. His neurological condition impedes his physical movement, giving him empathy for his students who have also hit bumps in the road. He routinely teaches his students to “fail up” and grow from their mistakes. Character education is as evident in each lesson as College and Career Readiness Standards. If you take a stroll around Central Utah Academy, the first teacher you hear and the warmest greeting you receive will be from Mark Lyons.”


The fall conference was held last Thursday and Friday, September 24-25. There, Lyons taught a class called, “Seeing the Big Picture.”

Two years ago, at the Adult Education Association of Utah conference, CUA teacher Lee Bjerregaard was recognized as the Teacher of the Year, also nominated by Peterson. CUA is administered by the South Sanpete School District.