February 21 – RISE nominations

Kim Derksen, Grovecrest Elementary; teacher

I have been so impressed with Miss Derksen so far this year. She focuses on positive reinforcement and I am astonished at the elaborate reward program she has for her students and even more impressed how well she keeps up on her system. Her students are recognized daily when they show good behavior with little tokens. Her positive environment has created a haven where students are respectful of her and each other, see the good in each other, and are encouraging to each other. She not only is rising the teacher profession, but rising the character of her 3rd grade class.

Nominated by: Amanda Croshaw, parent

Megan Ericson, Deerfield Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Ericson fits the description of this award perfectly. She is so so kind, caring, understanding and loving. My second child is lucky enough to be in her class this year and I am continually blown away by her ability to teach these young children in such a positive way. She is incredible in every way!!!

Nominated by: Karli Walker, parent

Ashley McDonald, Cedar Ridge Elementary; teacher

Ms. McDonald motivates our kids to press forward ever!

Nominated by: Monica Reyes, parent

Jaimie Maio, Black Ridge Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Maio goes above and beyond with these kids. I can tell she really takes the time to connect with her class by the random little stories my daughter comes home and shares with me. We absolutely adore Mrs. Maio!!!”

Nominated by: Cessilee Dunford, parent

Janet Mason, Foothill Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Mason is amazing with her students. She gets to know each one individually and you can tell they love her in return. She challenges her students to see things in new ways and to put forth their best efforts. It’s very obvious that she cares about her students feeling seen, heard, and loved. I think she is simply amazing and very deserving of this award!

Nominated by: Tiffany Done, parent

Beth Nelson, Greenwood Elementary; teacher

My student has struggled a lot with anxiety and focusing. Beth is so kind and patient with him and communicates regularly about his needs and progress. She always celebrates the little wins with us and goes above and beyond the call of duty everyday!

Nominated by: Rikki Wall, parent

Mary Candland, Cedar Ridge Elementary; teacher

Mary Candland is a phenomenal teacher. She goes above and beyond in everything she does. You can tell how much she cares about each of her students and wants them to succeed. She takes the time to really get to know each one individually. Our daughter was struggling with anxiety while in her class. Mrs. Candland took the time to understand her fears and encourage her. Her positivity, understanding, love, and encouragement meant the world to my daughter and to me. It gave me such peace knowing I was sending her to such a kind, caring, and loving environment each day. Thank you, Mrs. Candland!

Nominated by: Kelsie Roberts, parent

Cindy Jordan, Cedar Ridge Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Jordan is so fun and kind. I had Mrs. Jordan last year. She makes learning fun. She comes up with really cool ideas for science and projects. I learned so much while in her class, including cursive. You can tell how much she cares. I could feel it. Thanks Mrs. Jordan!

Nominated by: Olivia Roberts, student

Marie Earl, Cedar Ridge Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Earl really cares about her students. I am in her class right now and I look forward to going to school each day because of Mrs. Earl. I have learned so much already and it is only November. She really makes learning fun through songs, jokes, and cool activities. She is good at explaining things. She is kind, patient, and I can feel how much she cares about me and the other kids. Thank you Mrs. Earl! Love, Olivia

Nominated by: Olivia Roberts, student

Bethany Hays, Vineyard Elementary; teacher

My son Chase didn’t love school last year, but thanks to Mrs. Hays, that excitement has come back. I’m grateful to her and getting to know the things he loves, like drawing and baseball, and applying them to school. His confidence in math has also grown this year, and I just want her to know we appreciate everything she does.”

Nominated by: Kellie Campbell, parent

Ashley Becar, Desert Sky Elementary; teacher

My oldest started Kindergarten this year and I was a nervous wreck for him to attend public school. As soon as I found out that Mrs. Becar was his teacher I was relieved. She goes above and beyond for her students. She recently had surgery and was out of class for a few weeks. During this time she continued to reach out to families and check in on her students. My son asked every single morning if Mrs. Becar would be in class. He literally jumped for joy when she came back. Mrs. Becar teaches with love and that is hard to find these days. I couldn’t think of a better role model for my son.

Nominated by: Emily Asbury, parent

Kevin Tracy, Lone Peak High School; teacher

Mr. Tracy is absolutely incredible. I have always struggled in math but in just 2 terms he has not only completely caught me up- but also makes math one of my favorite subjects. I would really love to see him win because he absolutely deserves it. He’s always talking about how much he loves his job and I think that is very rare in teachers.

Nominated by: Elle Anderson, student

Ray LeBaron, Harbor Point Elementary; teacher

I am beyond impressed with Mr. LeBaron’s individual care and attention to each student in his class. He is a great communicator with parents and really makes a positive influence on his students. He makes learning fun and doesn’t get caught up in the task of it, but really seems to enjoy his time teaching.

Nominated by: Celeste Young, parent

Kristin Larson, Rocky Mountain Elementary; teacher

Ms Larson is an amazing teacher. She truly cares about each one of her students. She notices their strengths and uses these strengths to encourage them, uplift them, and just make their day a more positive experience in general. She communicates with parents and students. She has taught my children important life skills as well as their daily curriculum. She is so positive and caring. We love her!

Nominated by: Megan Hemming, parent

Mike Ericksen, Brookhaven Elementary; administrator

Principal Mike Ericksen is always interested and involved in the wellbeing of all the kids in the school. I see him in the parking lot greeting kids, then at the entrance waiting for the last kid to go in. He help during lunch hours, helping the kids as a parent would do. He take care of parent’s concern and issues with bullying. He strives to give the best to everyone. He is exemplar, he is the best element for teachers, staff, students and parents.”

Nominated by: Nancy Crza, parent

Lora Lewis, Fox Hollow Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Lewis is deserving of the RISE Award because she sets an example of “rising up” and also helps her students to “rise up”. Despite multiple challenges in her personal life last year she was still committed to her students and they knew it. They knew how much she cared about them and helping them succeed. She is also empathetic and cares about her students as individuals. She took extra time to get to know my son, his needs, and went above and beyond to help him overcome severe anxiety he had been experiencing with school. She truly helped him to “rise up” and thrive in school.

Nominated by: Meghan Posner, parent

David Hyer, Aspen Elementary; teacher

Mr. Hyer has the gift of teaching, he is personable, humble, caring, and I love that he has a lot of patience with the kids. Thanks to him my son has learned how to read clearly, and he boosts the kids’ confidence. He takes his time to explain everything that we don’t understand and make it clear. It’s honor to have him has my son’s teacher!!

Nominated by: Djabi Sanha, parent

Scott Wilson, Transportation; bus driver

Scott makes the bus ride safe and fun for the students. If someone is having a hard time getting in he’ll talk with them and make them comfortable. He encourages good grades with treats.

Nominated by: Katie Brady, parent

Tyler Mitchell, Lone Peak High; teacher

Mr. Mitchell is a devoted chemistry teacher with a great passion for his subject. As a fairly new teacher to Lone Peak, he took on the huge challenge of bringing back AP Chemistry to the school. His desire to help his students succeed is large, and his heart is generous.

Nominated by: Karen Whitt, parent

Jacob Rees, Lone Peak High; teacher

As an English teacher, Mr. Rees spends hundreds of hours grading and editing student writings. As a favorite of students, he is asked to write dozens if not hundreds of letters of recommendations. He does not shy away from the countless hours of hard work teaching requires. He is invested in the success of his students and their progress.

Nominated by: Karen Whitt, parent

Tanner Herricks, Lakeridge Junior; teacher

Mr. Herricks is always nice and doesn’t let bullies get away with causing trouble. He is a lot fun and I always appreciate his help.

Nominated by: Kenneth Peck, student

Susan Christensen, Timberline Middle; teacher

Mrs. Christensen’s knowledge of Spanish is excellent, but what makes her an incredible teacher is her gift in pedagogy. She understands how to make the language come alive for the students, how to engage their attention, and how to make the classroom a true learning environment. Not only is she highly skilled in her teaching methods, but she is devoted to being a mentor to students. They flock to her room during and after school to chat with her, to seek her wisdom. In the last year, she gave birth to a baby with significant health needs, and yet she still generously makes time for students.

Nominated by: Karen Whitt, parent

Aaron Andersen, Skyridge High; teacher

An incredible asset to Skyridge for his knowledge alone, Mr. Andersen chairs the foreign language department with a gift for teaching Chinese, and in addition, teaches the incredibly substantive AP US history with great passion. Even with a heavy load providing for a family and caring for a disabled child, Mr. Andersen spends countless hours mentoring students, writing letters of recommendation (as he is a favorite teacher), and planning how to better capture and engage the minds of his students. He is phenomenal.

Nominated by: Karen Whitt, parent

Hannah Wold, Cascade Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Wold is new on my team this year and we have truly been blessed to have her. She is an amazing teacher with a wealth of knowledge in best practices in a classroom. She has been a critical part of our team and she goes above and beyond to help out. I believe Mrs. Wold deserves to be recognized as the amazing educator she is. Our school, staff, and students are so lucky to have her here at Cascade.

Nominated by: Taylor Gaudi, district employee

Tonya Denning, Westfield Elementary; teacher

She is very dedicated and cares about the children’s progress.

Nominated by: Dina Soria, parent

Leif Arrhenius, Westlake High; teacher

Leif has come in to the school and immediately helped change the culture. He is a great coworker who cares about everyone he works with and he is incredible with the students. The students love and respect him and he motivates them to work hard and overcome the challenges in front of them. He has made huge improvements to the Fitness and Weight Lifting culture at Westlake. We are all very lucky to have him here.”

Nominated by: Steven Anderson, district employee

Kim Moss, Harvest Elementary; teacher

Mrs Moss is an amazing teacher to our daughter. We have very much enjoyed her teaching style and her continued efforts to make the children feel safe, seen, and important.

Nominated by: Chad Loiseau, parent

Nate Welch, Northridge Elementary; teacher

Mr. Welch is always professional. He really cares about the students. The theme of his classroom is “No student left behind” (I am paraphrasing.) Mr. Welch is very good at communicating with parents about children’s needs. When my daughter needs to work harder on something, he reaches out via email in a most kind and respectful way, without shaming. Mr. Welch celebrates the kids’ progress, and rewards the kids for picking up on things that he may have missed. This shows a lot of humility. Because of Mr. Welch, my daughter has become more self-aware and is learning to be kinder.

Nominated by: Amanda Morrison, parent

Rachael Fjerstad, Silver Lake Elementary; teacher

We love when our daughter is excited for school and enjoys learning. We’re always grateful for Ms. Fjerstad, who helps her learn and feel confident in her abilities.

Nominated by: Bryn Aumua, parent

Star Aguayo, Lakeridge Junior; secretary

I nominate Star Aguayo because she is always nice with my daughters and she helps them a lot. She is also very fun and helps me translate everything I need to tell the school.

Nominated by: Janet Oviedo, parent



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