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The City Journals

Jordan area teachers recognized for excellent work

May 07, 2018 02:50PM ● By Jet Burnham

April Winegar was surprised to be named a Jordan School District 2018 Educator of the Year as she’s congratulated by Principal Mike Kochevar.. (Photo courtesy of Jordan School District)

When April Winegar’s students at West Jordan High School pass by her in the halls, they can be sure she will say hello.

“I don’t want any of my kids to feel invisible, so I just try to make sure I say hi to them every time I see them,” Winegar said.

Winegar teaches French, serving as the head of her department as well as the English Language Development Lead, working with ELL (English Language Learners) students. 

She was nominated for Jordan District’s Educator of the Year award by Vice Principal Donna Hunter. 

“She is a master at striking the balance between advocating for students and teaching them to self-advocate,” said Hunter. “She cares and helps students commit to go far beyond the bounds of the classroom. She is an admirably outspoken and proactive advocate for all of her students but especially for our English language learners who face unique challenges. She cares about them deeply and individually.”

Winegar has revolutionized the ELD program to address the gaps in services for ELL students, which make up 20 percent of the student body. “April puts in much work, time, and tears to ensure that our students have success,” Principal Mike Kochevar said. “She tracks these students throughout their day. She has created curriculum to teach them in her ELD classroom. She has created an ELL task force that meets with teachers after school to share strategies that we can use to help our kids be successful.”

Winegar also helped implement a graduation program for minority and ELL students. Buddy Alger from the Department of Educational Support Services worked with Winegar to identify and eliminate barriers to ELL students. He said it was a unique experience working with a teacher with such passion and commitment.

“I have never seen a teacher do so much with so little for so many kids,” said Alger. “I really can feel her energy and desire for these kids to graduate and move on. She is remarkably compassionate and kind, yet she took no grief from students who had a million excuses on why they couldn’t graduate.”

Alger said Winegar’s philosphy was the inspiration for naming the program Diploma Now.

“She was so focused on ‘now is the time,’” he said. “She is always saying, ‘Let’s do it now,’ ‘let’s work on it now.’ Her goal is to get kids to graduate now.”

Because of this commitment, 90 percent of the students in Winegar’s program graduate on time.

In one year, her students completed and passed the tests for 229 packets, earning 29.5 credits. The results came from long hours of work. 

Spanish teacher Sarah Woolstenhulme said Winegar has done the work of several people for several years.

“She spends hours of her own time and so much compassionate energy working to be the best teacher she can be in order to help her students experience success,” said Woolstenhulme. “It is immensely important to her to help her students overcome the challenges that they face inside and outside the classroom.”

Alger said he tried to support Winegar in the immense responsibilities she had.

“I hired part-time helpers, and she out-worked them all,” he said. “Her commitment to that program was beyond what I ever could have expected from a teacher. Her passion and commitment would not let her exhaustion get in the way. She really is an exceptional educator and does remarkable things for the students that she works with. She is one remarkable woman.”

 Winegar has also doubled student enrollment in WJHS’s French program.

“She is doing fantastic things in aligning her curriculum with how students learn languages best—and it shows,” said Woolstenhulme. “Her students clearly enjoy her classes and are learning a ton.”

In only her fifth year of teaching, Winegar was surprised to be named one of Jordan Education Foundation's 2018 Educators of the Year. She has many more ideas to improve her programs in the years ahead.

“This award was very unexpected, but this is nothing to look at yet,” she said. “They should come back in 10 years.”

Other West Jordan educators to receive the 2018 Jordan Education Foundation Educator of the Year Award are:

Stacee Worthen. She is a dynamic counselor who helps students and teachers at Copper Hills High School dealing with stress and loss. She has trained students and faculty as members of Hope Squad to help students struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Julie Huffman. He is the instructor for the Certified Nurse Assistants Program at Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers North. She ensures that all of her students are proficient in the skills needed to be a CNA. She is a positive infulence on her students and co-workers.

Susan Call. She is  a first-grade teacher at Heartland Elementary and is an ideal example of a professional teacher who uses data to drive her instruction. She spends her time before and after school and during lunch prepping individualized lesson plans for her students, focusing especially on her ELL students to help them learn the language and feel comfortable in her classroom.

Marie Hoffer. This teacher at Mountain Shadows Elementary is always looking to provide support to others. Colleagues said she remains positive and cheerful, even on difficult days or when working with students who need behavior interventions. “She works her magic, and every student in her class feels that they are her favorite because of the individual support and encouragement she gives to them,” said Principal Annette Huff.

Lee Dupaix. This Oakcrest Elementary first grade teacher addresses the whole child for their social, emotional, physical and mental needs. “He sees children for what they can be,” said Amanda Parry, a parent. “Mr. Dupaix has the ability to find out what each child's strengths and weaknesses are and then he individualizes their learning. He makes learning fun and school a place where children want to be.”

Other winners include: Amanda McCullough, Westvale Elementary; Susan Allen, Westland Elementary; Hiram Bertoch, West Jordan Middle School; Stacy Selk, West Jordan Elementary; Laurie Murdock, Falcon Ridge Elementary; Melinda Carpenter, Columbia Elementary; Kimberlee Reynolds, Jordan Hills Elementary; Rochelle Manglinong, Copper Canyon Elementary; Tanya Hale, West Hills Middle School and Cherie Lawson, Hayden Peak Elementary.