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The City Journals

Educators named outstanding by Jordan Education Foundation

May 17, 2017 04:14PM ● By Tori LaRue

Cindy Horrocks, a teacher at Joel P. Jensen Middle School, gets a hug from Principal Bryan Leggat after winning an award. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Seventeen Jordan School District teachers were recently named “outstanding educators” by the district’s foundation. They were surprised with the honor by Superintendent Patrice Johnson, their principals and Jordan Education Foundation members.

“It was a total surprise,” Monte Vista sixth-grade teacher Alicia Rasmussen said. “I didn’t see it coming.  I walked into the library, and there was a line of people there starting with the superintendent all congratulating me, giving me balloons. I had to let it absorb what was happening.”

Rasmussen and 16 other teachers throughout the district were honored April 27 at a banquet where each teacher was presented an award and $1,000.

Jordan School District Superintendent Patrice Johnson said she looks forward to the day when the “prize patrol,” goes from school to school to surprise the honorees.

“It’s the best day of the year when so many schools have recognized outstanding educators who lift young people,” she said. “Every year, this gets bigger, and every school is filled with gifted teachers who are deserving of this award. These teachers are being recognized for their heart, and why they do what they do is all for the love of the kids.”

Rasmussen said she appreciated being recognized for her efforts.

“A lot of teachers could receive this award, as we all put in a lot of hard work,” she said. “I’m grateful that my hard work is recognized and that I have the support of the parents, administration and community. I care about the kids, and not just those in my grade, but the entire school.” Rasmussen is also a member of the collaborative leadership team and coordinates the school’s spelling bee and Walk with Wishes service project for Make a Wish Foundation.

Her principal, Meredith Doleac, said Rasmussen fit the rubric of helping with student academic growth, showing excellent instructional practices and having an impact on student life.

“One of the things that stands out about her is her leadership and involvement in our school,” Doleac said. “She has lead Walking for Wishes ever since we started it. She has organized activities for students, such as contacting the Salt Lake Astronomical Society and having them bring huge telescopes to our school one night so sixth-graders who were studying about space could have a stargazing night. She has built trust with students and has made a positive impact on students’ lives.”

After Monte Vista, the “prize patrol” traveled to South Jordan Elementary to surprise fifth-grade teacher and student leadership adviser Kaylee Todd.

Todd’s students and other fifth-graders had just finished performing an assembly program when the “prize patrol” said they were there to present the outstanding educator award.

“The kids started chanting my name, and I tried to hush them, but they just kept going,” she said, recalling feeling embarrassed as she stood against the multi-purpose room wall.

However, unknown to her, the students nearest to the “prize patrol” saw Todd’s name on the file.

“I just love these kids. This is all just so amazing,” said a nearly speechless Todd.

Her principal, Ken Westwood, who was bordering on tears, recalled when he first met her.

“She was a student teacher, and I was a principal here in my first year, and you could just see she had a way with students—an electric connection—from the beginning,” he said. “She is loved and respected by parents and kids alike.”

However, outstanding educator awards can only be given to teachers who have taught at least five years, so the nominations from parents and peers had to wait, Westwood said.

“It’s more than just being loved,” he said. “She also had her students getting 96 percent on the CRT (standardized tests) in language arts and math. The proficiency rates were the highest in the DWA (direct writing assessment) and SAGE (standardized tests). Everything about her is extraordinary.”

Jordan Education Foundation Director Steven Hall said  this year the organization received 55 applications—one from each school. The committee, made up of five Jordan Education Foundation Board of Directors members and three community members, reviewed all the nominations to select this year’s recipients. All nominees received a plaque and gift basket, and the top 17 teachers were honored at the award banquet.

“It was neat to read all the quotes and comments from parents, students and principals, but it was really hard to judge,” Hall said. “We want all these teachers to know that someone notices them and cares. The kids absolutely love what these teachers have done for them and who they mean to them.”

Other educators who were recognized at the award banquet include Columbia Elementary’s Susan Locke, Copper Mountain Middle’s John Schneggenburger, Fort Herriman Middle’s Michael Farnsworth, Heartland Elementary’s Leslie Fiskell, Herriman Elementary’s Sarah Burton, Joel P. Jensen’s Cindy Horrocks, Kauri Sue Hamilton’s Laurie Tovey, Oakcrest Elementary’s Randi Frehner, Oquirrh Elementary’s Lisa DuVernay, Riverton Elementary’s Ashley Calhoun, Riverton High’s Katherine Borgmeier, Rose Creek Elementary’s Christina Stout, Southland Elementary’s Allyson Pulsipher and Westvale Elementary’s Sandra Burton.

In addition, Michele Daly of Southland Elementary was selected as Principal of the Year.

At the banquet ceremony, six students were also honored as 2017 student scholarship recipients: Javier Gallardo, West Jordan High School; Nardos Hammond, Riverton High School; Diana Hays, Bingham High School; Hunter Peterson, Copper Hills High School; Alisha Record, Valley High School and Dawson Stout, Herriman High School.