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The City Journals

Educating is an art for this award-winning teacher

May 21, 2018 12:00PM ● By Jet Burnham

Superintendant Martin Bates surprised Lori Linford, a teacher with a loving heart, with an Excel Award. (Granite Education Foundation)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Lori Linford studies teaching the way artisans approach their sculptures or paintings, said April Stevenson, her fellow teacher at Bennion Elementary. 

“Teaching is an art for her,” said Stevenson.

Linford was recently recognized for her exemplary efforts as a master educator with a Granite Education Foundation Excel Award.

“She just has a natural ability to connect with students and teach in a very loving and kind fashion that connects with many students,” said Stevenson. She said Linford has genuine love and concern for her students—she gets to know them as individuals. And when there are problems, she addresses them in a loving way. 

“Lori’s best quality is her strong but loving classroom management style,” said Erin Bitner, another colleague. “I always joke with Lori that she will dole out a consequence to a misbehaving student and tack on a ‘sweetheart’ to soften the blow.” She said the students understand that Linford cares for them but also has high expectations for them.

“They do always get a hug and a ‘sweetheart,’” said Linford, who helps students brainstorm better choices they can make next time. 

Linford has a high level of enthusiasm that keeps her students engaged, said Bitner. With silly songs and simple chants, she helps students remember information.

Linford spent three years developing a PowerPoint presentation to teach common core math concepts. It includes links to engaging YouTube songs about concepts such as measurement, place value, multiplication and perimeter. 

“We try to make it fun every day,” Linford said. 

She incorporates physical activity into as many lessons as she can, encouraging students to move their bodies to learn.

“Most kids and adults are not auditory learners,” said Linford. “You have to incorporate all the senses to get lessons to stick in the brain.” 

With science units, movement is a natural teacher. “We are constantly acting out the motions of the water cycle,” Linford said. “We act out what the molecules are doing in states of matter; we act out the warm fronts and cold fronts—the kids are in movement, learning the concepts." 

Linford is direct with students about her expectations for them, both behaviorally and academically. She provides a loving environment where students can feel safe and take risks, said Bitner.

After 17 years of teaching fourth grade, Linford is familiar with the core curriculum requirements.

“Everything I do every day is to get to that end goal of what they have to master,” said Linford. “I use my day to the fullest to make sure I’m doing as much as I can.”

Bitner said Linford is a master teacher, who exemplifies good teaching practices with fidelity to the core curriculum.

“She is laser-focused on her aims and goals for student learning and is very persistent until those aims and goals are reached,” said Bitner. “She also has a great way of breaking down information so students can understand, guiding them through the process with support and putting procedures in place for them to do the task independently.” 

Linford loves her job, especially when her current students give her hugs or when her former students send her wedding announcements. 

“It’s those moments that make the day-to-day struggle worth it,” she said. “When I get those types of rewards, I know that I am making a difference.”

She said through the ups and downs of her demanding job, she sees the purpose in what she is doing. 

“I know that if I can make one child feel safe, one child feel loved, one child feel confident in themselves, one child knowing that they can do whatever they aspire to—then I’m doing my job,” she said. 

Other teachers and administrators recognized with Granite Excel Awards are:

Janice Wayman- Hartvigsen School

Archer Birrell- Hillside Elementary

Amy Winder- Elk Run Elementary

Katie Pearce- Rolling Meadows Elementary

Lori Linford- Bennion Elementary

Jodi Larson- Upland Terrace School

Leah Tarrant- Taylorsville High School

Jill Thackeray- Skyline High School

Brandon Kerby- Cyprus High School

Stephanie Varoz- Crestview Elementary