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The City Journals

Kindness always wins: Sadie Riel awarded grand prize for 2017 Teacher Feature

Jun 02, 2017 11:42AM ● By Aspen Perry

Sadie Riel being interviewed with student Luke Ayers. It was Luke’s mom, Peggy, who nominated Sadie Riel into the teacher feature contest. (Aspen Perry/City Journals)

By Aspen Perry  |   [email protected]
Excitement was in the air on May 11 as the students of Sadie Riel, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) teacher at Granite Technical Institute, surrounded what Riel would soon find out was her new car.
“Seeing my students out there made it so special, and seeing how excited they were for me was the icing on the cake,” said Riel.
Peggy Ayers, mother of one of Riel’s EMT students, Luke Ayers, nominated Riel for the KSL Teacher Feature award in an effort to recognize Riel for going above and beyond for her son.
“What I most admire about Mrs. Riel is her ability to go beyond the mark for her students. Her example of reaching out… was more than any parent could ask,” Ayers said.
Riel reached out to Ayers, asking how she could help Luke, upon learning he had tried to take his own life during his senior year of the EMT course at GTI.
With Luke’s permission, Riel was able to share his story with other students. This led to Riel printing 80 individual cards for students to write “heartfelt” inspirational messages that Luke’s parents delivered to him in the hospital.
As Ayers wrote in her nomination letter to KSL, Luke turned out to be one of six other students during that year who had attempted taking their own life.
In the letter Ayers praises Riel for her continued effort and dedication to ensuring Luke had all he needed to earn his certification.
“By never giving up on our son, Sadie Riel not only taught him how to save lives in a classroom setting, she put her lessons into action by helping him save his own life emotionally,” Ayers wrote.
Each year, KSL receives thousands of letters nominating outstanding teachers throughout Utah. Those letters are then read by a panel of judges from KSL NewsRadio, Zions Bank, and the Utah State Office of Education.
“Zions Bank has enjoyed being part of the process in recognizing the quality teachers out there,” said Adam Young, communications officer with Zions Bank during the grand prize reception.
In accordance with the KSL Teacher Feature nomination page, from September through June, winning teachers are announced on KSL’s Utah’s Morning News with Brian Martin and Amanda Dickson.
Upon winning, each teacher is given a plaque from Zions Bank, an overnight stay at the Anniversary Inn, certificate for dinner at The Roof, a pair of season tickets to Hale Centre Theatre, as well as being invited to the end-of-year banquet held at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and being entered into the grand-prize drawing for a two-year car lease courtesy of Burt Brothers Tire and Services.
Burt Brothers began their partnership with the Teacher Feature grand prize award six years ago and is an event the sons of the original Burt Brothers—who now run the family-owned company—look forward to each year.
“Our favorite thing is seeing the reaction from the students, and from the teacher, they’ve all been so humble and deserving, and it’s really fun for us to honor (them),” said Brandon Burt of Burt Brothers.
For Riel, being a teacher is most rewarding because she is able to make a real difference and always keeps in mind that all her students are going through something that is big to them.
“I love teaching because it allows me the opportunity, every single day, to change someone’s life,” Riel said. “I’m glad I get to be with them to go through learning different life lessons. It is so fun to see them succeed.”