October 4 Rise Nominees

Morgan Wachter, Thunder Ridge Elementary; teacher

Ms. Morgan goes above and beyond for her Small Group students! She is incredibly organized and manages not one, but TWO classrooms this year so far, as the school is trying to hire another teacher. She is beloved by all, is capable of completing any task with a smile on her face, and, best of all, she loves her students with her whole heart. She is able to reach even the most stubborn kids, as well as those that are several grade levels behind their chronological age. She is a wonderful teacher and an incredible asset to the school and the district.

Nominated by: Jordan Chan Boon, parent

We are extremely fortunate to have Miss Wachter at Thunder Ridge! She is extremely knowledgeable, patient, caring, and possesses all the traits you would want in a teacher. It is amazing how she adapts her instruction to help her students from multiple grade levels thrive. She has gone way beyond the extra mile this year helping manage two classrooms while a teacher on her team has been out. She is positive, happy, and hard working, and parents, students, and staff members all love and appreciate Miss Wachter and all she does!”

Nominated by: Kathy Loveridge, district employee

As a parent of a child with Autism, my everyday concern is how well my child adapts in the school environment. Ms. Morgan puts my worries at ease. Not only she’s a passionate educator, she acknowledges and empathizes with parents. I sincerely hope this organization rewards Ms. Morgan’s commitment on our special needs children.” 

Nominated by: Katrina Fabian, parent

She is such an amazing teacher to the Small group Autism Class. This year she is taking care of both classes. She deals with screaming fits that can last hours and deals with them with such care and calmness. She is able to know all her students’ quirks and able to help each one individually.” 

Nominated by: Katie Patrick, parent

Kandice Taylor, Lakeridge Junior, teacher

Mrs. Taylor is dedicated to making learning music fun. She takes time with her students and gives them so much. She is such an inspiration to them. She has taught my children for 6 years and I loved watching them learn and grow and the love of music that Mrs Taylor brought to them. She really relates to the kids and they know what she expects out of them. She is an amazing educator. I wish there were more teachers like her.

Nominated by: Jamie Gillman, parent

Tami Platt, Oak Canyon Junior, counselor

Mrs. Platt has always been so kind and accommodating, finding solutions to help my student. She really goes out of her way to make sure the students have everything they need to be successful.

Nominated by: Audra Anderson, parent

Oliver Abbott, Rocky Mountain Elementary; teacher

Mr A’s classroom is the type of place you hope for when you send your child off to the unknowns of elementary school. Discipline comes only from a place of mutual respect and understanding. Grievances and disruptions are handled with privacy and patience. Each student feels seen and cared about. No matter the disasters of the day, Mr A’s classroom is a refuge, a safe place to make mistakes, learn from them and move on.

Nominated by: Mary Stevens, parent

Miriam Richards, Greenwood Elementary; administrator

Miriam’s presence at Greenwood has made the environment warm and welcoming. There is a feeling of inclusion and understanding for faculty, staff, families and children. Any time I have gone to her with a concern or need it is taken care of right away. I have heard several people mention how Miriam has supported them and helped them feel welcome! Thanks, Miriam!!! I’m glad you joined Greenwood!

Nominated by: Shannon Leininger, district employee

Miriam goes out of her way to show that she cares about the faculty, staff and students at Greenwood. She is present in our classrooms, validates teachers and will even bring a sweet treat every so often. Within the short time of knowing her, we can feel that she adds to the caring tone of our school. It’s a pleasure to work with Miriam!”

Nominated by: Portia Ames and Kathy Woodward, district employees

Tonia Ziter, Lake Mountain Middle; teacher

Ms. Ziter is the best math teacher! She is always willing to help even if it’s not her student! Both of my kids have had her and she was just as amazing with the second as she was the first! She encouraged my daughter to step out of her comfort zone and try out for something when she didn’t make it she said come back stronger and try again. She then reminded my daughter that she was her biggest cheerleader. It was the sweetest thing! She is these kids biggest cheerleader! Couldn’t ask for a better teacher.

Nominated by: Michelle Forsyth, parent

Becky Struthers, Meadow Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Struthers is kind, loving, and gentle. She radiates positivity and is genuinely invested in her students. She helped my son last year so much. He has struggled with speech, reading, and math. She gave him a safe place to learn and grow. She also celebrated his accomplishments and recognized his growth pattern. She volunteered her time to help before school to give extra support to him as well as other students. Even though school has been hard for my son, he always looked forward to seeing his teacher. She checks all the boxes on the RISE acronym and then some!

Nominated by: Charmaine Doney, parent

Elise Joyner, Harbor Point Elementary; teacher

We just switched to Harbor Point this year and my son is in Mrs. Joyner’s class. She wrote a personal email the first week expressing good things about him which made him feel so special. I can already tell, she cares very much about each of her students she works hard to help them feel included and a part of their class community. 5th grade is a challenging time to move to a new school, my son has looked forward to school everyday so far. She’s doing a great job.

Nominated by: Christa Cleveland, parent

Abigail Olsen, East Shore Online; teacher

Abby goes above and beyond when it comes to not only teaching, but also being an instructional designer, facilitator, and teacher leader. She is always willing to help any of the teachers with creating online curriculum. She constantly is taking courses and striving to improve her skills, so she can come back and teach the rest of us. She is constantly working towards helping East Shore Online become better and better.

Nominated by: Megan Hennessy; district employee

Carrie Johnson, Westmore Elementary; teacher

Ms. Johnson could receive an award for any of these options! She is Remarkable, Inspiring, Selfless and Encouraging. She was my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and she helped her bloom SO much! If I had to bucket her into one of these awards it would be Inspiring. She brings out the best in her students and helps them grow and reach their potential. She is amazing and absolutely deserves this award!

Nominated by: Rylee Ve’e, parent

Elodia Spray, Dry Creek Elementary; teacher

My son Miloh use to cry every morning when he had to get up to go to school. It was heartbreaking. By the time he left for school we both would be in tears. This year is completely different! He wakes up excited for school, comes home each day happy and eager to do his homework and reading. He loves his teacher Mrs. Spray. I cannot believe the change in him! It’s absolutely amazing and beautiful… Thank you Mrs. Spray for all you do and for opening Miloh up to how fun school and learning can be when we have the right teacher… you rock…

Nominated by: Amanda Glenn, parent

Penny Welch, Eaglecrest Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Welch is a very caring teacher. Her classroom is organized and welcoming. She listens to the kids and has created a safe learning environment for her students. We love having her!!

Nominated by: Amber Smith, parent

Angela Duke, Brookhaven Elementary; teacher

As the reading intervention teacher, Mrs. Duke has had the opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of the children she interacts with. I have seen first hand with two of my kids the skills she has. She not only accelerates their reading abilities, she teaches in a way that allows them to learn to love reading. We love Mrs. Duke and my kids love her too!”

Nominated by: Falicia Mooty, parent

Hannah Arnold, Cedar Valley High; administrative assistant

Everyone who knows Hannah knows that she would do anything for you. She works tirelessly for the front office, the teachers, the students, and literally anyone who asks. Even though she is incredibly busy, she makes you feel like you are the only thing important when you talk to her. Cedar Valley would not be the school it is today without her.

Nominated by: Storm Champagne, district employee

Hannah is the embodiment of RISE. Hannah is remarkably selfless and encouraging. She is empathetic to students, parents, teachers, and admin as we all share are our burdens with her. She keeps a drawer of good chocolate to help heal our wounds. She inspires us to do our best and love those around us. She greets everyone with a smile. Hannah is also excellent at keeping details organized and bringing ideas to fruition. Her creativity has blessed CVHS in countless way–and most wouldn’t know she was the creator of these things. She quietly conquers the mountains of problems she faces with grace.”

Nominated by: DJ Conger, district employee

Marsha Saetrum, Grovecrest Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Saetrum is the best kind of educator. She is loving, kind, and understanding. She focuses on making sure her students feel safe and loved so that they have the best chance of learning and growing throughout the school year. This is the second time my child has been lucky enough to be in Mrs. Saetrum’s class, and we couldn’t be more pleased with his attitude about school because of her influence.

Nominated by: Jenny Lane, parent

Ben Hazlett, Hidden Hollow Elementary; Speech Language Pathologist

Ben’s unique skill set is leading to great gains in the lives of the students he serves. Parents all over the community look for answers from Ben and he is always willing to take time to educate families on how to help students reach communication milestones. In addition, Ben’s skills as a translator have helped many parents both feel welcome and also take their first steps in supporting their child in a new country. Overall, Ben’s spirit of service exemplify the Alpine way.

Nominated by: John Truesdell, district employee

Tom Von Gostomski, Thunder Ridge Elementary; teacher

Mr. Von Gostomski is an excellent teacher. He is loving and compassionate, but also holds his students accountable. My daughter learned so much in his class last year and loved having him as her teacher. He is dedicated, genuinely cares about his students and wants them to succeed. He goes above and beyond to do so.

Nominated by: Shawna Trimmell, parent

Chantel Adams, Alpine Online (K-8); teacher

Chantel is one of the most genuinely kind people I’ve ever known. She is welcoming, understanding, and thoughtful. She has been working at Alpine Online for over 15 years and recently completed her masters in School Counseling. That has been a great benefit to our little school. She runs counseling sessions with students, hosts “Mindful Mondays” for families, and teaches social emotional wellness classes. This year she began working as a part time counselor at Liberty Hills. They are lucky to have her!

Nominated by: Natalie Gurr, district employee

Alexa Cardiff, Cedar Valley High; teacher

Ms. Cardiff has been a favorite teacher of multiple of my kids. She is understanding and helpful and relatable and trusted. She sets up standards for the kids, and supports them to attain them. I am grateful she is at our school!

Nominated by: Cinthia Blair, parent

William Berneau, American Fork Junior; teacher

Bill truly cares about the learning and well-being of all of his students. He strives to honor and respect the various cultures and backgrounds of our ELLs and to create an inclusive and respectful classroom focused on growth mindset and success.

Nominated by: Ashley McNeil, parent

Rachel Miller, Lindon Elementary; teacher

Ms. Miller is so sweet and understanding. She is so good with her students and making them feel seen and loved.

Nominated by: Paula Lee, parent

Lynzee Baxter, Orem Junior; teacher

Ms. Baxter is AMAZING. I am continually impressed by her dedication to her students. She helps coach track and cross country, works with student leadership, and teaches health and Physical Education. I have witnessed her encouragement of students and how she builds leaders. She believes in these kids and that helps them believe in themselves which is so critical for teenagers. I also admire her diligence as a health teacher and how she helps kids learn about subjects that can be difficult or awkward for them but that are essential for their well being. She is a LIGHT.

Nominated by: P.J. Eagar, parent

Matt Dias, Bonneville Elementary; administrator

I had the distinct pleasure of working alongside Mr. Dias these last few years before his move to Bonneville from Riverview. As the chairman of the Riverview School Community Council, I have seen firsthand the commitment and passion Matt has toward the student body. The evidence is in his actions and results we were able to achieve in making Riverview one of the best elementary schools within the district and state of Utah. Through his steadfast perseverance and clear goals, we managed to score above the rest of the schools in all areas of academia with respect to key performance indicators!

Nominated by: Roy Palacios, parent

Katie Preston, Fox Hollow Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Preston is the most selfless, kind and caring teacher I have ever seen. She genuinely cares for her students and their well being. Each child is unique and she looks for all of their individual needs and helps them feel loved while they learn and grow. She has been amazing for my son! She has made him feel valued, important and safe at school. He has moved on to a new teacher in a new grade but continues to visit his favorite teacher each day at school.

Nominated by: Autumn Hewlett, parent

Ariel Dawson, Deerfield Elementary; teacher

Mrs. Dawson has a way of making learning fun and engaging for even the most stubborn learner. She is not afraid to do things outside the box which helps outside the box learners. My students who had her came home smiling every day and ready to share what they did.

Nominated by: Sarah Lyons, parent

Teresa Cheney, Canyon View Junior; teacher

Ms. Cheney obviously cares deeply about her students and their success in her classes. After my daughter started junior high with a 504 plan, Ms. Cheney contacted me and requested a meeting to learn more about how she could help my child succeed in her class. Orchestra was her favorite class last year, and she is excited to continue learning a new instrument this year with Ms. Cheney. But, what’s most remarkable to me is how my child’s face lights up whenever she sees Ms. Cheney or has a chance to interact with her.”

Nominated by: Emily Coleman, parent

Katrina Hill, Brookhaven Elementary; teacher

Katrina is so good with her students, she strives to help them be independent and be the best they can be. She has been with the district for 10 years. She is a single mom who doesn’t get child support and has her kids 90% of the time. Last year she took over the ASL teaching position at Orem High and absolutely loved it. She is now finishing her teaching certificate. She is incredibly busy but still keeps a positive outlook and gives 100% to her students. I am nominating her because I think she deserves to be recognized for all her efforts and the love she has for ASL and her students.

Nominated by: Larissa Bragg, district employee

Laura Laycock, Freedom Elementary; teacher

I have been parenting school aged children for over 15 years and Mrs Laycock is my favorite. When we first moved to Utah from AZ 4 years ago my son Tyse was so anxious about being in a new state and new school. One day a couple weeks before school started there was a knock on our door and it was Mrs. Laycock!! She introduced herself and made Tyse feel at ease and even excited to start school. She goes the EXTRA mile to connect and welcome her students. That year was Tyse’s favorite school year. She is a legend in the Robson home!

Nominated by: Kenyon Robson, parent

Sherri Christensen, Traverse Mountain Elementary; teacher

Since being new at the school, I appreciate Sherri’s kindheartedness. Sherri has been patient, kind, and respectful to the 2nd grade team and the rest of the faculty. Because she is the team lead, she shows an example by delegating and to making our meetings successful.

Nominated by: Rachel Kennedy, district employee

Kristen Blazian, Timpanogos High; teacher

Mrs. Blazian is a teacher who is concerned about the whole child. She is an expert in her subject and helps students gain passion for language and literature. She understands the balance between pushing her students academically while also accommodating their unique needs. She just cares. Mrs. Blazian will always hold a special place in my heart and my son’s heart. We love her.

Nominated by: Courtney Knight, parent and district employee

Candace McKeehan, Manila Elementary; teacher

Mrs. McKeehan is the epitome of genuine care, love, and concern for each of her students. She wants them to succeed and supports them, even by attending their extracurricular activities. She treats the students as unique individuals while bettering the class as a whole. I am so grateful for Mrs. McKeehan!

Nominated by: Brigitte Smith, parent

Aspen Branin, Manila Elementary; secretary

Aspen is absolutely perfectly pleasant! She is very helpful, knowledgeable, and capable at performing her job but also takes the time to get to know the students. She is the perfect combination of accomplishing her work and interacting with others. I am so grateful for Aspen!

Nominated by: Brigitte Smith, parent

Katy Foster, Freedom Elementary; teacher

Katy goes above and beyond to make her students feel loved, special, and welcome in her class. This year Katy received a student that has several extra accommodations and needs. Katy went out of her way to come up with reward systems, prizes, etc. to help this student have a successful year. While she still has high expectations for each student, Katy is able to adapt each day to what her students need. She is rarely found at her desk, but instead constantly interacting and helping her students. She is such a great teacher!!!

Nominated by: Nikki King, district employee

Katy is a very personable and loving teacher, yet pushes her students to be the best that they can be. This year I put an autistic special education student in her classroom. Katy has adjusted for the student’s needs. This student has excelled this year. Last year the student wanted to do all of her work in the resource classroom and had a lot of meltdowns. This year, she wants to stay in the classroom as much as possible. Katy has been able to teach this student personal skills so that the student will use her calming techniques and then return to do her work. Katy is a child whisperer!”

Nominated by: Nikki King, district employee

Mrs. Foster has gone above and beyond in helping my son feel safe and comfortable at school. He has struggled with some heavy anxieties around being away from home. Mrs. Foster has been incredible at empathizing, seeking solutions, and helping him recognize his strengths and abilities. She also offered to give up her lunch break to sit with him during lunch when he didn’t feel like he had anyone to sit with. She’s just been so incredible and I am so grateful.”

Nominated by: Nikki Salazar-King and Daxton King, parent

Marisela Prince, Harvest Elementary; teacher

Señora Prince is an incredible teacher! After school you will see students from previous years coming to visit her, that is how big of an impact she has made. She made the school year a joy for my daughter who has struggled a little here and there with friendships and enjoying school. She adores Señora Prince and I will always be grateful for her and the love she shows her students.

Nominated by: Alesha Wilcox, parent



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