October 18 RISE nominees

KaCee Smuin, Springside Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Smuin is so kind and patient with her students. Her room feels warm and comfortable without any fancy decorations because of the spirit she brings. She takes the time to explain things so carefully and she does not shy away from the hard to answer questions. She is organized, attentive to detail, and will not let any student slip through the cracks. She speaks to the students with respect and does not belittle them or their feelings. I can not think of a better person to have educating my child through this very influential period of his life.

Nominated by: Brianne Ballard, parent

Ryan Radebaugh, Traverse Mountain Elementary; teacher

Mr. Rad truly is a remarkable teacher! When I found out that for the 3rd time one of my children would be in his class I was thrilled! My older kids still talk about how great his class was & all they learned. He truly inspired them! What I was impressed with was the growth in their character & maturity having had him as a teacher. He was a positive mentor to them, and he was a friend. He even tries to attend their sporting events outside of school when he can. Very selfless and encouraging for sure to do that. It’s only been a week so far, and my 11-yr-old says it’s going to be a great year!

Nominated by: Shellie VanOrman, parent

When my son met “Mr. Rad” he knew his name and talked directly to him. He sent us a direct email about how special our son is. He asks and comes to his (and other students) extracurriculars and school hasn’t even been going for two weeks. He invests in them and they see it and feel it. He is building a culture in his classroom that the students want to be a part of. I am so happy my son gets to experience and be a part of his class. He’s the only male elementary teacher my son will have and my son is better for it.”

Nominated by: Megan Tycksen, parent

“Mr Rad” as the kids call him is one of the best teachers we have ever had. He taught my older daughter 3 years ago and I am thrilled that my son gets to be in his class this year. He makes every student feel special and takes the time to make everyone feel loved. Just this last weekend he came to support my son at his football game on Saturday. It made him feel so special to have Mr. Rad there cheering him on. He cares about the mental and emotional health of each child. He teaches the kids how to be decent humans just as much as he teaches them math or science. He is the best!”

Nominated by: Amberly Meeker, teacher

Mr. Rad is the definition of an incredible teacher. His kindness and caring, fun personality shine through with his interactions with his students and their teachers. He goes as far as to make it to as many of his students extracurricular events as he possibly can. My daughter is in his 6th grade class and she has felt so supported by Mr. Rad. He makes school fun, easy to learn and creates a positive environment for his students. Mr. Rad is extremely deserving of the RISE award!!” 

Nominated by: Heather Keigley, parent

Cami Graves, Greenwood Elementary; teacher

Cami works so selflessly to make sure that every student feels loved and cared for. Her ability to connect with students helps them to feel safe. She is relentless when finding new and engaging ways to keep students learning and improving. She loves working with her students and it shows in the progress they all make. She is amazing!

Nominated by: Rachelle Alvey, district employee

Kristy Childs, Cedar Valley High; counselor

Kristy has been a lifesaver for me. I have 4 boys, and my oldest graduated last year. I have a senior and freshman this year. My senior is doing concurrent enrollment classes, and she is always so easy to work with to get schedules changed or even to gently remind me to allow my children the decisions to forge their own paths. I have laughed and cried in her office, but I honestly do not think I would have made it through last year without her!!! Her compassion and willingness to go above and beyond are rare traits in the world today!!

Nominated by: April Evans, parent

Leslie Sampson, Viewpoint Middle; teacher

She has a genuine interest in elevating kids in music. She has greatly impacted my child as well as many others. She is the reason my kid is doing jazz band, wind symphony and marching band. This is what gets kids excited about going to school. She goes above and beyond not only teaching kids about music, but music history and more. The kids are learning life skills such as team work, being dedicated, and dependable human beings. When my kid signed up for band in 7th grade he didn’t know if he was going to like it, it has transformed his life. These are just some of the reasons.

Nominated by: Kelly Chipman, parent

Shannon Jenkins, Eagle Valley Elementary; Innovative Learning Coach

Shannon always greets you with a smile. She is kind and supportive and never makes anyone feel like they are incapable. Shannon is always willing to help with anything, big or small. She is great at providing opportunities for students to try something new, and makes learning new things exciting and easy. Shannon is a great advocate for us teachers, helping us get the tech we need to support innovative learning in our classrooms. I have loved working with Shannon the past couple of years and I don’t know anyone who is more deserving of this award.

Nominated by: Kelly Behle, district employee

Katie Evans, Springside Elementary; teacher

Ms. Katie is so patient and gentle with her students. You can tell she really loves what she does, working with her Foundations preschool class! My child engaged with class activities because she felt heard and seen. She helped make a huge difference in my child’s progress because she put forth so much effort to help her students. I’m so grateful my child had Ms. Katie for her first school experience.

Nominated by: Rachel Black, parent

Kristin Kukahiko, Westfield Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Kukahiko is an amazing teacher! Her classroom is a calm and welcoming place. She greets each child with a warm and happy smile. She creates an amazing sense of community. Mrs. Kukahiko really pushes the kids with her “20 books a year” challenge and book of the month challenge which includes staying in to eat lunch and watch the movie. She pushes the kids in math with daily homework and includes hands on learning such as a class garden and bottle habitats. She helps students 1-1 and started my daughter on a phonics program. She is a the kind of teacher you always hope your kids have!

Nominated by: Emily Teuscher, parent

John Jagerson, Timpanogos High; teacher

Mr. Jagerson is one of the best math teachers we have ever encountered in the public school system. He is both kind and patient and does extra things to make kids not only learn math, but overcome bad experiences they have had with math in the past. He offers time outside of class on Saturdays for extra review prior to the AP Calculus test. Beyond his teaching abilities he has his classroom structured for success. Most kids feel that classrooms are structured for punishment, but everything he does is to allow the kids to succeed.

Nominated by: Holliann Gardner, parent

Christine Jepson, Harvest Elementary; teacher

I met Christine Jepson in the 2021-2022 school year when my son was in Kindergarten. She was his teacher; and we were beyond blessed to have her again as his first grade teacher. My son struggled a lot with his behavior in Kindergarten, and Mrs. Jepson did everything she could to help my son improve. So much so that during first grade, she told me how my son’s improvement was like night and day. While still shy, he has become a little more confident and he loves school, and listens in class. It is all thanks to her, and as a single mom, I am beyond grateful to Mrs. Jepson for helping my son.”

Nominated by: Kathy Marsh, parent

Craig Smith, Lone Peak High; teacher

Mr. Smith made the extra efforts to tutor his students before school and after school even on Saturdays since the first day of school to make sure they can do well at school and are totally ready for their AP exam. He even bought breakfasts for all his students on exam day out of his pocket. He did not get extra pay for the time he spent with the students. All he did was simply want the students to succeed. He is very encouraging, supportive, and positive which really helps the students feel loved and cared. His selfless service to the students and parents has influenced them for good.

Nominated by: Faith Hung, parent

He genuinely wants to help students and takes a lot of time outside of school hours to help students prepare for the AB AP Calc exam. He makes sure that each student is engaged and does his best to make sure each student receives what they need to succeed. Whether that is tutoring before school, during lunch, after school from 2:15 until students go home (sometimes 6-8), and buying students breakfast before the AP test.”

Nominated by: Charity Hung, student

He always goes the extra mile to help his students succeed. He stays before and after school to tutor, and explains things as many times as needed to make sure that students fully understand concepts.”

Nominated by: Hope Hung, student

Sarah Hardman, Greenwood Elementary; aide

Sarah has been such an incredible support in my classroom. She is always willing to help and do whatever is needed. She has a great rapport with the staff, children and families at Greenwood! She is a rock star! Thanks for all you do, Sarah! You are the best!

Nominated by: Shannon Leininger, district employee

Marcella Olsen, Westmore Elementary; secretary

She is very friendly, she have carefully with kids, she is kind, professional, and has resolutions to problems. She always has a smile.

Nominated by: Rocio Ticeran, parent

Allison Hammer, Centennial Elementary; teacher

Ali is the epitome of RISE. She is selfless, encouraging, always willing to help, and a wonderful teacher! She works in the Adapted PE dept.

Nominated by: Bryan Boothe, district employee

Shaun Brady, Saratoga Springs; teacher

El Maestro Brady fue una parte muy importante en el desarrollo de mi hijo no solo académico, sino también al darle seguridad para seguir desarrollando cualidades y confianza en sí mismo. Mi hijo y mi familia siempre sentiremos gratitud por él. Es un excelente maestro.”

“Mr. Brady was a very important part in my son’s development, not only academically, but also in giving him security to continue developing qualities and self-confidence. My son and my family will always feel gratitude for him. He is an excellent teacher.”

Nominated by: Laura Solorio, parent

Angela Howell, American Fork Junior; teacher

Mrs Howell is a really great teacher she is nice and loves teaching.

Nominated by: Nathan Kunze, student

Arcelia Paz, Bonneville Elementary; classroom aide

We are incredibly lucky to have Arcelia at Bonneville. As a kindergarten paraprofessional she goes above and beyond to help our newest students feel loved and safe at school. She helps us bridge connections with our Latino community as well as helping our little multilingual learners thrive in kindergarten. She is also an amazing interventionist that connects with students who need some extra support. We’re so glad she’s at Bonneville!

Nominated by: Tiffany Smith, district employee

Alex Nicholes, Timpanogos High; teacher

Alex is continually working to be a better teacher for his students. He goes out of his way to uplift, encourage and better his students and athletes. He takes the time to get to know them and makes the conscious decision to show up for them each day. He is continually revising and bettering his curriculum to benefit the students as best he can!

Nominated by: Hannah Whitson, district employee

Corbett Douglas, Cedar Valley High; teacher

Mr. Douglas is my favorite teacher ever!! He is a phenomenal teacher and I love taking his classes. He makes a lot of jokes (some good, some kinda corny) that never fail to make me laugh, even when I’m not having the best day. Mr. Douglas is very understanding and patient, and is willing to help you the best of his ability. He knows that we teenagers are busy and overwhelmed, so he’s always trying to not add to that stress. Because of him and his classes, I love to learn new things and everyday he tells us that we are awesome kids and that we can do anything. Mr. Douglas rocks!!”

Nominated by: Payton Willard, student

Christi Banks, American Fork Junior; occupational therapist

Christi truly loves her job. Even with rising caseloads, she continues to personally know each one of her students (more than 100). She has been with the district for almost 20 years and still shows up each day with the desire to make a difference in the lives of the students she works with.

Nominated by: Kristy Ashby, district employee

April Felix, Aspen Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Felix is an amazing asset to Aspen Elementary. She shows great concern for the students’ emotional wellbeing and goes above and beyond to help support them in their journey.”

Nominated by: Emily Bell, parent

Sara Lyman, Trailside Elementary; teacher

For her first year of preschool, our daughter Mamie went to another preschool, and every day was a struggle. Things were not going well and we saw an opening at Trailside Elementary and chose to change. My daughter was very shy and would hardly say a word at school, but Ms. Sarah never gave up on her. She was patient, understanding, and really worked hard to help Mamie grow. Mamie stopped complaining about school and this year she asks to go to school. She feels confident and loves chatting it up with Ms. Sarah. Ms. Sarah brings a bright, fun energy and really helps these kids feel loved.

Nominated by: Cami Stephenson, parent

Miss Sara has gone above and beyond as a preschool teacher. Every time I pick up my son from preschool, she has an update about how he did that day. She is so patient and so welcoming to my son and to all of her students, and loves them like they are her own. She has made my experience and my son’s experience starting preschool so enjoyable and so seamless. She needs to be recognized!”

Nominated by: Danielle Henrie, parent

She is amazing with the kids and goes beyond for them.”

Nominated by: Samantha Hooley, parent

Gail Robley, Lone Peak High; student advocate

Ms. Gail as my daughter calls her has been a safe place at school for my daughter to speak and know she will be heard. One day in particular, my daughter went to school after I had to discipline her. She was emotional and not able to go to class. She went to Ms. Robley’s office and talked the situation through. Gail gave her a safe place, empathy and good advice. My daughter knows she can go to Gail with anything and that means so much to both of us. Thank you Ms. Gail!!

Nominated by: Courtney Rasband, parent

Collette Tregeagle, Canyon View Junior; teacher

Collette is a fantastic teacher. She teaches Drama at Canyon View Junior High. She loves each student and builds up their confidence in themselves. She takes the time to help them individually and works with them to become better students. She praises them continually and helps them to have confidence and better feelings about themselves. She has made a huge difference in my daughter’s life and my daughter loves her as a teacher and a friend.

Nominated by: Lisa Clegg, parent

Natalie Spadafora, Manila Elementary; teacher

Ms. Spadafora took time out of her busy schedule to support my son Dev in his football game. She cheered his team on and even stayed the whole game. Dev has also felt right at home in her class and she has done an amazing job helping him learn so much already. She is a shining example of a dedicated teacher that Rises above to support her students. We are lucky to have Dev in Ms. Spadafora’s class this year!!!

Nominated by: Sean Bowman, parent

Stephanie Edwards, Desert Sky Elementary; teacher

Stephanie is one of the best teachers I have ever known. She is kind, caring, data-driven, and spends hours researching the best ways to help her students learn. She is passionate about literacy and has worked endlessly for the benefit of all those around her sharing resources she finds. She is engaging and fun and has high expectations of herself and her students. Her students are so lucky to have her and she will always fight to ensure the growth of every child in her care.

Nominated by: Ashley Becar, district employee

Tanja Peterson, Cedar Valley Elementary; teacher

Words cannot express the amount of time, energy, and patience that Mrs. Peterson puts into her students and classroom! She faces each day with a fresh, positive attitude, even when she knows that there are going to be some tough challenges as the day progresses. Mrs. Peterson certainly knows how to talk to her students, as well as their parents, and she has shown time and time again the amazing ability to handle each difficult situation with grace and understanding. Mrs. Peterson is an exceptional example to her students, as well as her coworkers, and she truly deserves this award.

Nominated by: Jennifer Payne, district employee

Tanja Peterson has an incredible love for her students. She instills this passion for learning in each of the students who are fortunate to be in her classroom. Tanja is an energized teacher who strives to achieve high levels of learning for ALL of her students. She works hard to build professional relationships with her students, their parents, and her colleagues. Cedar Valley Elementary is an amazing and safe place to learn because of Mrs. Peterson.”

Nominated by: John LaBare, district employee

Abigail Moss, Orem Junior; teacher

Abby is simply the best collaborative teammate! She puts her all into helping her history team which results in helping all kids at Orem Junior. She goes above and beyond when teammates need support. Her students and her school are lucky to have her!

Nominated by: Ashley Belnap, district employee

Mark Stahmann, Lake Mountain Middle; teacher

I had the pleasure of popping into Mark’s classroom for a brief moment early in the school year. He was teaching Ceramics class, and it was the end of the period and students were in the process of cleaning up. Not only was the classroom perfectly clean (clear evidence of good procedures), but Mark was using the last few moments of class as time for relationship building. He was playing a really fun game that I actually took and used with my students, and we have been having a lot of fun too. Thank you Mark for the great example of making every moment count!

Nominated by: Korryn Coates, district employee

Michelle Bollinger, Black Ridge Elementary; teacher

She has such a positive attitude as she has taken on the immersion program this year. She jumps in and doesn’t complain about the hard tasks she faces as an immersion teacher. She is loving and kind to her students and makes them all feel welcomed and loved.

Nominated by: Kristin Mortensen, district employee

Jarod Hill, Legacy Elementary; custodian

Mr. Hill is a very hard worker, he has improved the school up in many ways. The grounds, the inside, and he takes everything to heart. He loves the kids and makes them feel important. He takes the time to know them, and to make sure that they see him as a friend not just a person working in the school. He strives to make that school look good for every teacher, every student and every parent that walks through that door. His building looks very well maintained and taken care of. He deserves this to show that he is not unnoticed.

Nominated by: Melissa Harrington, parent

Tanner Herrick, Lakeridge Junior; teacher

Tanner Herrick is a builder of Lakeridge Jr High students! Tanner is our boys PE Teacher and coaches wrestling and track. He is passionate about what he is teaching whether it is fishing or frisbee golf. He can inspire the most unmotivated student to try their best. He is a cheerleader and lifts all who are around him. Tanner makes the first day of every term special and fun! Once he set off the fire alarm with his fog machine. Our school had an unexpected fire drill during 1st lunch. It’s teachers like Tanner that make a difference in building lives! Thank you, Tanner!

Nominated by: Jerryne Turnbull, parent

Christine Grow, Skyridge High; teacher

Christine Grow inspires her Child Development & Early Childhood Education students & efficiently runs the Skyridge Preschool.
One example of her influence is ECE student/preschool teacher: “A”, who began as a TA for Christine but claimed she disliked little children. After one semester under Christine’s tutelage ‘A’ redid her schedule to take ALL the Child Development & ECE classes, and is one of our kindest, most enthusiastic preschool teachers! The positive change & light in ‘A’s’ very nature is a testament of the awesome things coming from Mrs. Grow’s impressive program. I wish I could write even more!!

Nominated by: Hope Taft, parent

Suzanne Palmer, ATEC West; administrator

Suzanne Palmer is an amazing administrator. My son is a huge Utah Jazz fan. She recently took him and other students to Salt Lake to audition to sing and sign the national anthem. Not only that, she has taken the time to teach my son how to sign the national anthem. Watching my son last year perform at the BYU game and watching him sign it literally brought tears to our eyes. Every school should have an amazing principal that goes above and beyond for her students. My husband and me appreciate all she does for our son.

Nominated by: Emily and Kasey Crawford, parents

Trudy Troxell, transportation; bus driver

Trudy has been the bus driver for both of my boys in the small group autism class for the past couple of years. She is dedicated, hard working and makes the bus ride so much fun! My son loved seeing a familiar face first thing in the morning on his first day of school. Trudy has often found lost precious items for my kids and always remembers their birthdays. She is amazing and her kindness and consistency has made all the difference!

Nominated by: Heather Preece, parent



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