May 21 – RISE Nominees

Officer Edward Orellana, Lake Mountain Middle; School Resource Officer

School Resource Officers are amazing humans. Officer Orellana goes out of his way to connect with students and engages staff and students in fun physical fitness challenges. All of my students know Officer Orellana and have positive interactions with him in the school. They truly love and adore him and I love having him as a coworker at Lake Mountain. He’s been a great addition and asset to our school, community and district.

Nominated by: Danny Horne, district employee

Trevor Bishop, Silver Lake Elementary; teacher

We appreciate Mr. Bishop sooo much. He has gone out of his way to give me updates on things that happen in class. He tells me when my son is doing well in something, or when there are concerns. He notices when my son isn’t there. He has helped us learn how to use the online programs at home. I am grateful for his efforts in helping my son and have seen so much growth with him in the last few months. He is so great and I hope that Mr. Bishop gets noticed for what he does. He is an AMAZING teacher!

Nominated by: Erin Goldhardt, parent

Sadie Snow, Lake Mountain Middle; teacher

Sadie Snow is the most incredible of teachers. She epitomizes the very best of what it means to be a Warrior. She has taken our children under her wing as her own and has played a huge role in helping our oldest daughter come out of her shell in a huge way. She’s a teacher that will do anything and everything to help her students in life and in school. Sadie is an amazing friend, mentor, teacher, and leader and I’m grateful to have her in our life.”

Nominated by: Kelly Horne, parent

Mandy Dejournett, Frontier Middle; nurse

Nurse Mandy serves the diverse student populations at Desert Sky and Pony Express Elementaries and Frontier Middle School while heading the Mentoring Nurse Leadership Committee for ASD. Her skill and knowledge base regarding school nursing is exceptional; she cheerfully completes her own nursing duties while answering the questions and needs of students, fellow school staff, and nurse mentees; and she remains approachable and humble while clearly excelling. Since a PT aide at Dan Peterson in 2000, she has filled various health roles in our community and with ASD. We are lucky to have her!

Nominated by: Beth Montour, district employee

Sandra VanderWilt, Black Ridge Elementary; teacher

Mrs. VanderWilt has a split grade level class with 31 students in it! It has to be so much work! My daughter, Harper, has loved having Mrs. VanderWilt two years in a row. In spite of all the work she does, Mrs. VanderWilt always makes sure the students in her class feel loved and important. It is her unique ability to connect with students that has enabled her to be such an effective teacher for so many students. As a parent, I am so grateful for all the effort Mrs. VanderWilt gives in her classroom. It does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all you do.

Nominated by: Susan Miner, parent

Stacey Gibbons, Grovecrest Elementary; partnership facilitator

Stacey works to support two of the best new intern teachers to become highly effective educators. Not only does she support them, but she also steps in to help out wherever she can in her role. Her magic is spread throughout the school and she continually helps to lighten other’s loads. Because of Stacey’s passion to help support others, Grovecrest is an awesome place to be!

Nominated by: Ruthie Cheeseman, district employee

Melanie Neilsen, Barratt Elementary; teacher

I was apprehensive as school began for my third grader this year. He had been diagnosed with a multitude of issues that make learning more difficult for him, and while he makes progress each year, he’s still struggling to keep pace with peers. When I brought my concerns to Miss Neilsen, I felt like she really listened to me. She has worked closely with my son all year and requested evaluations, and she was able to help us finally set up an IEP for him. I am so incredibly grateful for all of her efforts and am feeling optimistic about him succeeding in school for the first time in a long time.

Nominated by: Aubrey Nelson, parent

Miss Neilsen has mad teaching skills! She is a very kind person, but pushed us to our full capabilities. She created a safe environment for us to learn and to make mistakes. She taught me that making mistakes is just a learning opportunity. She was always welcoming with a huge smile everyday.”

Nominated by: Jana Patlan, student

Brittany Call, Sage Hills Elementary; teacher

Brittany strives every day to be better than the day before. She’s constantly looking for ways to grow and give more for her students. She loves the children in her class unconditionally. She not only wants to have them succeed in their academics, but to have them be kind, responsible, members of their community as well.”

Nominated by: Devane Mikesell, district employee

Candice Nagata, Desert Sky Elementary; teacher

Candice is always bringing a smile to work. She shares it with everyone. She always has a kind word to say to students, parents, and teammates. She jumped into teaching a new grade this year and has been great to work with. She has put in so much time and effort to learn a new curriculum and has made an impact on her students this year!

Nominated by: Colleen Guerrero, district employee

Nancy DeBry, Desert Sky Elementary; teacher

Nancy is one of my favorite teachers. We opened up Desert Sky this year and I couldn’t have done this without her! She is one of the best! Her students love and appreciate her humor and expertise. Most of them have also become Chiefs fans this year since she strives to build connections with students and has done that through their shared love of football.

Nominated by: Colleen Guerrero, district employee

Amanda Siebert, Desert Sky Elementary; administrator

Amanda has been one of my favorite Assistant Principals to work with. She is so fair, calm, and knowledgable. I love when administrators work to build connections with teachers and students and that is what Amanda does! My son has come home on many occasions with a story about Mrs. Siebert and how amazing she is! Thank you for making Desert Sky a welcoming place for all!

Nominated by: Colleen Guerrero, district employee

Nicole Savage, Desert Sky Elementary; secretary

I have had the opportunity to work closely with Nicole. She has been amazing in supporting our 3rd grade team and students. She is definitely and asset to our school, community, and team!

Nominated by: Colleen Guerrero, district employee

Shirley Wells, Cherry Hill Elementary; teacher

Ms. Wells has made a positive impact in my family’s life by her example inside and outside of the classroom. I see her interact with my child and the class and see how she combines humor with teaching to facilitate positive and interactive learning. Ms. Wells is able to answer any questions or concerns I have in a timely manner and shows compassion and empathy. I volunteer regularly at my children’s school and am in awe of how many current and former students stop her in the hallway or lunchroom to give her a smile, wave or hug. Ms. Wells remembers them by name. She is amazing!

Nominated by: Nia Latu, parent

I’ve watched students gravitate to Ms. Wells kind-hearted nature she possesses. She’s not only an amazing teacher, but all around a beautiful soul. She is constantly helping where she can, whether in the classroom or simply coming down to lunch everyday to help the littlest ones conquer the lunch room and get to the table to eat. She looks out for everyone and no one gets left behind. She’s simply the best.”

Nominated by: Beth Wiggins, district employee

Ms. Wells goes above and beyond her teaching duties. She is loving and kind to everyone she comes in contact with. The students adore her and run to greet her. She is helpful to other staff members and always willing to calm a tenuous situation. Shirley’s calm demeanor and positive attitude is a wonderful addition to Cherry Hill, Alpine is lucky to employ her. The children she influences are fortunate to have her in their lives.”

Nominated by: Sheila Brown, district employee

Shirley is the most kind and considerate person. The kids love her and she helps the students go through the lunch line very smooth. She always have a kind word to say.”

Nominated by: Lisa Hopkins, district employee

Troy Van Komen, Oak Canyon Junior; teacher

My daughter had a bad experience with math in 7th grade. She was behind and nervous. This year Mr. Van Komen has helped her get caught up. She loves his humor and that he explains the notes multiple ways so she can figure out what works best for her. He also lets them start homework in class a ask questions if they are stuck.

Nominated by: Erin Rigby, parent

Tamara Avalos, Lehi Junior; teacher

I nominate Mrs. Avalos for the Rise award because she is an amazing Spanish Teacher. I appreciated her hands-on activities with real life application in the language. Her emphasis was always on speaking the language, which is the whole point of taking a language class. I felt like I internalized the language better, understood better, and spoke better. I’m so grateful for the time she invested in me, and my fellow classmates. She is truly an amazing teacher and deserves the Rise award.

Nominated by: Jeffrey Smith, student

Mrs. Avalos is an extraordinary teacher. She is one of the most engaging teachers in our school. She does interactive activities with her students every class period. The students are speaking and using the language in real life scenarios. She has them dressing up when they are learning describing words. She brings props, plays learning games, introduces authentic treats and Spanish foods. My son thrived in her class. I appreciate her effort and time she puts into kids. She is always willing to work with students to help them succeed.”

Nominated by: Jill Smith, parent

Wendy Talbert, Orem High; financial secretary

Wendy is our financial secretary and is absolutely brilliant in her job. She keeps us all so organized, anticipates changes, helps come up with solutions and tows the line to keep our school financially set. If I ever have a question or a concern, Wendy has an answer. She understands so many different programs and funding challenges throughout the school and is well-versed on options available. It’s a relief to have someone so capable at the helm of Orem High’s financial ship.

Nominated by: Monica Milburn, district employee

Aly Gowdy, Greenwood Elementary; teacher

Aly had the difficult job of coming to the school mid-year. She hit the ground running and is AMAZING! She has made the computer lab such a fun and engaging place to learn. She collaborates with the classroom teachers to find ways to incorporate specific grade level essential standards into her curriculum. This helps lighten the teachers’ loads as well as make computer time that much more meaningful. She is a super support to our staff.”

Nominated by: Kathy Woodward, district employee

Janine Hunt, Greenwood Elementary; teacher

Janine has been a wonderful P.E. teacher at Greenwood for years. Not only does she teach the students important physical skills, but more importantly she incorporates the 6-C’s into her lessons. She encourages teamwork and good sportsmanship from ALL of the kids. Her activities are well organized, engaging, and FUN!

Nominated by: Kathy Woodward, district employee

Leann Gordon, Lone Peak High; teacher

I had a student in my class tell me that Ms. Gordon has helped him so much this year. She has been so patient and kind with his situation, taking extra time to help him understand. He said, “She has encouraged me to keep working, never giving up on me.” He really appreciates the the support he has received from her this year. Leann is a new teacher at Lone Peak and is making a difference with the students she works with.

Nominated by: Sherri Berry, district employee

Matt Paskett, Lone Peak High; teacher

When I ask my classes which teachers have helped them the most, Matt’s name is always at the top. The students at Lone Peak love his classes not only because he is a good teacher but because he is relatable, he is REAL and understands them. He is kind, creative, takes time to help them and wants the best for all students. The students know and can feel how much he cares about them. Matt is a good example to all of us at Lone Peak.

Nominated by: Sherri Berry, district employee

Catherine Tyler, Pleasant Grove High; teacher

Catherine is a busy teacher but also an instructional coach at PGHS. She somehow finds the time to work with new teachers after hours and on weekends to prepare them for the rigors of the classroom and, for our ARL teachers, full licensure and the PPAT. I’m impressed by Catherine’s patience, thoroughness, and can-do attitude. She helps make so many things go better at our school behind the scenes, and is always there to support even veteran teachers in our daily struggles. Way to go, Cat!

Nominated by: Danielle Asay, district employee

Irma Araujo, Vineyard Elementary; teacher

Ms. Irma, you are Remarkable! Truly the definition of it. You have taught two of my kids and they love to learn because of you. They feel safe and noticed because of you and your team! I am forever grateful for you and Ms. Holly and Ms. Addison. You lead an incredible team that nurtures, challenges, and empowers kids to reach their potential!

Nominated by: Nathalie Hernandez, parent

Lisa Govers, Harvest Elementary; teacher

My daughter loved being in Mrs. Govers class and still talks about her even though it’s been two years since she was in her class.

Nominated by: Kathy Thomas, parent

William Berneau, American Fork Junior; teacher

Mr. Berneau has been a kind and understanding math teacher to my daughter the past two years at AFJH. At the beginning of her seventh grade year, her dad passed away after a three year battle with ALS making school very difficult for her. Mr. Berneau has not only been patient teaching her math but more importantly has helped her feel that his classroom is a safe place to be. She especially loves his “dad jokes” which makes her laugh and has been a happy reminder of her of her own dad! Thank you Mr. Berneau!

Nominated by: Amy Petersen, parent

Elizabeth Hancock, Mountain Ridge Junior; teacher

As a dedicated teacher, Mrs. Hancock (Libby) prioritizes equipping students with essential skills vital for their academic journey and future endeavors. Beyond the classroom, Libby’s commitment shines as she wholeheartedly supports her students in extracurricular pursuits, attending dance recitals, shows, and games. Her unwavering dedication to student success, both academically and personally, distinguishes her as an outstanding educator. Libby Hancock’s tireless efforts and genuine care make her not only deserving but truly inspiring.

Nominated by: Emma Cragun, district employee

McKay Crockett, Lehi Junior; teacher

Mr. Crockett is always in such a good mood and he loves helping students. He is like the school dad. Always telling jokes and making everyone smile and happy. He will do anything to make sure his students succeed!

Nominated by: Breanna Wyatt, student

Jill Smith, Lehi Junior; teacher

Mrs. Smith is a very talented and dedicated music teacher. She truly loves the kids and she puts a lot of extra time and energy into their growth. I’ve been very impressed with her dedication! I have seen that level of dedication on the high school level, but never at a junior high! And, I think that should hold even higher weight because the ages between 12 and 15 are tough and crucial years!

Nominated by: Rachel Dietrich, parent

Mrs. Smith teaches and works in such a way that makes school fun, but we also get things done in her class. She has a perfect balance of work and play that makes school more fun for the whole day.”

Nominated by: Austin Collette, student

Mrs. Smith is so nice and the best teacher. I have her as my teacher and she makes my day.”

Nominated by: Cali Arko, parent

Mrs. Smith does so many choir things and performances. She is always is looking out for us and teaching us valuable life lessons. She takes almost 1000 hours working for us. She is such a fun and amazing teacher.”

Nominated by: Elayna Dietrich, student

Sherry Gotschall, Harbor Point Elementary; paraprofessional

Sherry is a wonderful paraprofessional. She absolutely adores the students she works with. She gives her very best every day and is delightful to be around.

Nominated by: Jessica Drake, district employee

Rachael Detering, Greenwood Elementary; behavior specialist

Rachael has been a godsend to our school. She is a miracle worker and has the patience of all of us combined! She works with our most challenging students and teaches them coping skills and appropriate behavior. The students LOVE attending their groups with Miss Rachael. She has provided the teachers with great resources and is quick to collaborate with us whenever we need support. The parents also really appreciate all she does for the children. Thank you Miss Rachael! WE LOVE YOU!!

Nominated by: Greenwood 2nd grade team, district employees

Wendi Wiltbank, Black Ridge Elementary; teacher

Wendi is truly a star at our school. She is a great collaborator in working with teachers, administration, and parents to help our students with special needs. She is always looking for ways to improve instruction, help our students reach their goals, and work with general education teachers to create the best scenarios for each student who attends her class. She is positive and always has a smile on her face, no matter what gets thrown her way. She is an amazing teacher who truly loves her students!”

Nominated by: Tina Sterzer, district employee

Jeremy Brunner, Lehi Elementary; administrator

Mr. Brunner is by far the best principal I’ve ever met. He really cares about his teachers and students. He’s able to help in ways that no other admin can, since the kids already trust him. He does countless tasks for our school that aren’t in his “job description.” He supports his teachers and is ever-patient. He’s creative and finds ways for our school to bond year-round. Because of him, this is everyone’s favorite school. There’s a feeling of unity here that you don’t find elsewhere. Everyone has the highest of praise for him, and we’re so lucky to have him.

Nominated by: Makenna Haycock, district employee



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