North Sanpete names Teachers of the Year
The North Sanpete School District has selected eight outstanding educators as Teachers of the Year and named Mark Willey, a special education and history teacher at Pleasant Creek High School, as the District Teacher of the Year.
Willey was awarded the top honors at a virtual school board meeting held by Zoom on April 21. He was given a plaque and a $300 Visa card for the distinction. He was noticed by the nominating committee because of his meaningful engagement with his students; he checks up on them every day and offers help and encouragement.
The school district also honored other seven other hard working teachers as well. Each of them were named as Teachers of the Year and received a plaque and a $100 Visa card.
The seven other award winners are: Monica Finlinson, Fountain Green Elementary; Cindy Galecki, Fairview Elementary; Brenda Candia-Lara, Moroni Elementary; Whitney Wheeler, Mt. Pleasant Elementary; Jed Brewer, North Sanpete High School; Katie Hopkins, North Sanpete Middle School; and Lori Johansen, Spring City Elementary.
Mark Willey was chosen for his outstanding one-on-on efforts to help special-ed students understand the importance of reading. He has used new reading software to his advantage to increase many student’s reading abilities by two to three levels. He was overwhelming chosen as Pleasant Creek’s teacher of the year because he cares for his students and engages in meaningful conversations with them on a daily basis, said his principal Stephen Sloan.
Monica Finlinson, a teacher at Fountain Green Elementary for 13 years, has been an incredible asset, said school principal Robyn Cox. “Monica spends hours preparing lessons for her students,” Cox said. “She reaches out to each one and finds just what they need.”
Finlinson is considered a friend by all of her colleagues. She is full of school spirit and she was saddened by the fact the kids had to miss out on the end of the school year.
Cindy Galecki, a third-grade teacher and computer specialist at Fairview Elementary, was chosen, in part, because she creates a unique and positive environment for her students to take responsibility for their own learning. According to her school principal, Allynne Mower, she is always willing to help others who have technology, STEM or math questions. And Galecki has been valuable helping teachers set up online learning programs during this difficult time of school closures.
Brenda Candia-Lara has taught first and second grades at Moroni Elementary for 16 years. She has been involved in every aspect of the school, not just as an educator, but as a builder of culture, said her principal Stacey Peterson. Candia-Lara also works as an advocate and liaison for the Hispanic community and has helped 80 percent of her students reach their dual immersion goals.
Whitney Wheeler, a second-grade teacher at Mt. Pleasant Elementary, is an amazing teacher who is always looking for new ideas and resources to help each and every one of her students, a fellow colleague wrote. She has taught at the school for five years. Wheeler has the ability to deal with struggling students, while at same time pushing others to higher levels of excellence. Her principal Rena Orton said Wheeler is a compassionate teacher who deserves this recognition.
Jed Brewer teaches science and math at North Sanpete High School. He came over from the middle school in 2011 and developed a new physics program, which has been a great addition to the curriculum. Brewer is an intelligent and intuitive teacher, who knows, academically, where each student stands, said his principal Nan Ault. With his help, the class of 2020 has reached the math benchmark on the ACT. His dependable, professional approach will be missed, Ault said. Brewer is off to other adventures.
Katie Hopkins has taught her students at North Sanpete Middle School to push themselves past their perceived abilities. She teaches seventh and eighth grade physical education and health. Her health classes are renowned for warning the students of poor health habits and the benefits of healthy living, said her principal O’Dee Hansen. She has shaped the school around healthy lifestyle activities and many of her students love to attend her classes. “Thank you for giving your all, all the time,” Hansen said.
Lori Johansen, a first grade teacher at Spring City Elementary, strives to help all her students enjoy learning. She is always willing to improve her own skills, and attends many professional development courses. Her students always show great progress and improvement in their literacy and math skills, said her principal John Thomas. She has achieved amazing results from her work, Thomas said. She is willing to do whatever is necessary to help her students succeed.