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The City Journals

Outstanding Educators of the Year

Jul 20, 2021 10:30AM ● By Jet Burnham

The Jordan Education Foundation recognized Rochelle Waite as 2021 Outstanding Principal of the Year and Winona Marx as an Outstanding Educator of the Year. (Photo courtesy of JEF.)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Educators overcame the extraordinary challenges of this school year with amazing positivity, creativity and flexibility. The Jordan Education Foundation selected this year’s Outstanding Educators from nominations by colleagues, students and parents who had this to say about these inspiring educators:

Bluffdale Elementary

Kimberly Bailey, fourth grade dual immersion

“Kimberly Bailey is a natural teacher. Her focus is centered on student learning, growth and success. Data governs the path to reach her students academically, but her heart governs the path to students’ social and emotional well-being. She impacts students in a positive and encouraging manner.”

Foothills Elementary

Jennifer Knowles, first grade

"Jenn will always stand out to me as someone who goes above and beyond for her kids because of her genuine care for them and desire to see them succeed! This positive effect on students' lives doesn't just affect the students but other colleagues as well, which affects more students! She truly inspires others to be better!”

"Jenn is a great teacher who cares about her students and not just the well-behaved ones—all of them!”

Hidden Valley Middle

Jean Fullmer, Dance and Health

“Jean is a true student advocate whose focus is on students improving themselves and working hard to accomplish anything they set their mind to. She is a mentor to her colleagues, including teachers who are outside of her department. Teachers affectionately call her ‘Mamma Jean.’”

Jordan Academy for Technology & Careers South Campus

Blair Jensen, Welding

“Blair tends to make the best of every situation. He looks on the bright side even when there really isn’t [a] bright side to be had. He really has a passion for life and has inspired the entire building to have that passion.”

“He is creative, innovative and just wants students to have a productive, successful experience in the welding program.”

Kauri Sue Hamilton School

Emily Griffith, special education 2–7 grade

“Emily has a very hands-on approach to teaching her class. She radiates the idea that learning is doing. She works with students who have severe cognitive and multiple disabilities.”

“Emily is one of the most outstanding educators I have ever known. I have had children in the school system for 15 years now. Emily continues to exceed my expectations every year that we are with her. She is amazing!”

Midas Creek Elementary

Sherri Morrill, fifth grade

“Sherri models and uses best teaching practices and strategies, which she shares with students, parents and colleagues. She is very thoughtful in her teaching and planning. She does not look at change or barriers as a stopping point but thinks around challenges to provide the very best teaching she can.”

“She holds such high expectations of herself and her classroom. I would be so lucky if I had my own child placed in her room.”

Mountain Point Elementary

Charity Horne, first grade

“She is relentlessly positive and vibrates with joy every moment of the day! You simply cannot walk by Charity and not feel instantly more happy and positive!”

“She genuinely takes interest in every student that walks through her door.”

Oquirrh Hills Middle

Eileen Siavrakas, special education

“She is the kind of teacher who changes the lives of students, improves the climate and culture of the school, and makes everyone want to be as good at this as she is. She is inspiring.”

Riverton Elementary

Jessica Soffe, fourth grade

“Ms. Soffe has created a classroom atmosphere that feels warm and safe. Students know it’s a place where mistakes are made because finding and fixing them is how learning happens.”

“Ms. Soffe’s goal is to make learning fun for fourth graders. She says that sometimes that goal requires some extra work and money beyond the school day, but other times it requires only a little creativity.”

Riverton High School

Chelsea Hull, ASL

“Chelsea has maintained a very positive and hopeful attitude throughout the pandemic. She has voluntarily added so much extra work to her plate with no complaints. Always willing to help, always willing to learn, makes an effort to make personal connections with each student. They love her!”

Rosamond Elementary

Tina Price, first grade

“Her students love her. She never gives up on a child. She has worked with some very challenging students and situations over the years. She loves them. She makes a lifelong impact where it would have been easy to give up. She continues to push herself to learn and improve. She is a lifelong learner, a caretaker, a true friend, a difference-maker. She is truly an example for all of us to follow, and we adore her for it.”

Rose Creek Elementary

Macey Burt, autism support cluster

“[Macey] has been very positive, creative and flexible in the changes and challenges that have come up this past year. Macey not only did her best but nailed it in making sure that she was meeting the needs of every student. Macey advocated for and helped design a sensory room.”

South Hills Middle

Winona Marx, Social/Emotional Behavioral Self-Contained Teacher

“When the first whispers of COVID-19 were floating around, Miss Marx immediately began to switch whichever classes she didn’t already have online into that format. And then she helped every other teacher in our department do the same.”

“Winona is the heroine who will see beyond the crisis and figure out how to save the day. This is a teacher who changes lives.”

South Hills Middle

Rochelle Waite, Outstanding Principal of the Year 

“She has created a culture here at South Hills of ensuring that every decision we make is driven by what is the best for all students so that they feel safe, cared for, supported and successful.”

“In a year that has been shrouded by the unknown, there is no one we would have rather followed. Rochelle is kind and caring. She’s patient and diplomatic. She leads us fearlessly, through the myriad challenges we’ve faced this year. She’s a rock star!”

Southland Elementary

Sarah Hively, special education

“Sarah is the perfect person to be working with our students that need extra help. She is patient and reasonable with them. She likes them, and they know it.”

“Sarah never shies away from an assignment or challenge. She is a friend to all and goes out of her way to ensure that teachers and assistants have what they need to be successful. Sarah displays an attitude of ‘they are all our students’ through her willingness to work with students in and out of special education.”


2021 Outstanding Education Support Professionals:

Monique Forman, nutrition manager, Bluffdale Elementary School

Mindy Kinder, nutrition manager, Southland Elementary School

Debra Schmidt, administrative assistant, Rosamond Elementary

Jeremy Peart, head custodian, Oquirrh Hills Middle School

Alicia Mckendrick, nutrition manager, Mountain Point Elementary

Christy Green, administrative assistant/attendance, South Hills Middle School

Lou Schick, administrative assistant/registrar, Riverton High School

Emily Gates, nutrition manager, JATC South Campus

Autumn Penney, head custodian, Kauri Sue Hamilton School

Natalie Casper, administrative assistant, JSD Accounting

Debbie Soelberg, route coordinator, JSD Transportation