Educators across the district recognized at annual banquet
Christine Rock, a Heritage Language teacher at Tse’Bii’Nidzisgai Elementary School in Monument Valley, is the 2023 Teacher of the Year for the San Juan School District. Rock was honored for her work at a March 6 banquet. (you can read a full profile here)
Rock now moves on to the competition for Utah Teacher of the Year. Superintendent Ron Nielson, and Kaitlyn Lyman, the 2022 Teacher of the Year, delivered keynote speeches at the banquet.
Nielson, who will leave the district in August, discussed the value of public education and how the school district impacted him as a student, teacher and administrator.
A host of hardworking teachers and employees were honored by the school district for their efforts at the banquet.
Teachers and staff from the Blanding schools who were honored include Heidi Noyes and Hunter Latham at Blanding Elementary, Tel Walker and MeLisa Christensen at ARL Middle School, and Valena Cody and Kimberlee Baker at San Juan High.
Teachers and staff from Montezuma Creek honored include Micah Daniels and Marina Smallcanyon at Montezuma Creek Elementary and Shoshina Harvey and Irene Carter at Whitehorse High School.
Teachers and staff from Monticello honored include Sarah English and Laura Shulenbarger at Monticello Elementary and Lynda Boyle and Adriann. Goodwine at Monticello High School.
Teachers and staff from Monument Valley honored include Christine Rock and Stephanie Sanders at Tse’Bii’Nidzisgai Elementary and Misty Cly and Kauldrinn Crank at Monument Valley High School.
LeRoy Bedonie and Genevieve Atene were recognized as teacher and staff of the year for Navajo Mountain High, while La Sal Elementary employee Sandra Marshall was recognized for her work.
Nicole Wallis and LaQueena Martin were recognized as teacher and staff of the year for Bluff Elementary, while District Employees Ashley Cosby, Jennifer Johnson and Steve Duke were also honored.
Blanding Elementary School
Classified: Hunter Latham
Hunter is someone who goes above and beyond his daily custodial duties. Whenever asked to do something...anything (and there are a lot of unsavory things) he always does it with a smile. The kids do anything they can to have Hunter's attention at breakfast and lunch. He is in endless games of Ro Sham Bo (rock/paper/scissors) while kids eat while still keeping the lunchroom clean. He has such a positive influence on kids that we have even used him as a reward for some students who need an extra positive nudge to behave. He is the full package for Blanding Elementary, hard working, kind, and fun. Everyone appreciates him here because he makes all of our days better. Thank you Hunter!
Certified: Heidi Noyes
Heidi is someone that teachers know they can count on for any kind of help. She has a positive demeanor regardless of how much else she has going on. She works tirelessly everyday to find solutions to difficult problems...and this year she certainly has plenty. Heidi is a master at balancing the needs of her students with their academic needs. She is an asset as a team player voicing her opinion when needed, being willing to try new things, and asking tough questions. Mrs. Noyes is an invaluable member of our staff. Thanks so much for everything you do!
Classified: Laqueena Martin
LaQueena has been a Paraeducator at Bluff school for 6.5 years. She is a kind and gentle person who encourages, supports, and challenges students to give their best work. She has excellent technology skills and is quite creative in all of her designs. LaQueena is a strong force in the classroom and a great asset to the school. She is gentle in working with students and is awesome in working with other staff members. She is a part of the social committee and makes great contributions in ensuring the staff all meet and have an opportunity to socialize. She is an employee who goes the extra mile.
Certified: Nicole Wallis
Nicole has worked as a lead teacher for over five years and has contributed greatly to Bluff school, in supporting the staff, and to student learning. She is at school early each day and gives time and effort to support school initiatives and staff support. At times she has taken up the role of acting principal and carried it out well. She has shown some great leadership skills as a lead teacher which has benefited new teachers working at Bluff school. One of her coworkers has said this about her, "Nicole is always willing to step in and help in any way possible, she always goes the extra, third and fourth miles." Bluff school staff greatly appreciates Nicole Wallis.
La Sal School
Classified: Sandra Marshall
Sandra has the drive, desire to learn and is kind. Sandra has come into her new position with vigor and a determination to learn skills and strategies. She immediately implements everything she learns into her practice. She constantly asks what else she can learn and do. She wants to know the reason behind assessments we give and strategies we use. She loves to analyze data and look for ways to fill in gaps for kids. With students, Sandra is a wonderful combination of compassionate and firm, always pushing the children to do better and be better. Sandra has been a breath of fresh air at La Sal Elementary and we are thankful for all she does.
Monticello Elementary School
Classified: Laura Shulenbarger
Laura Shulenbarger is MES' paraprofessional of the year. She is most deserving for this award. Laura is always professional, flexible, and a team player. Laura is a problem solver, she has worked with other members of the MES staff to ensure that the students are being taken care of when they are outside on the playground each morning. This plan came together and the final result was a systematic plan that leaves little room for error. The students at MES are safer because of her diligence. In addition, the students that she works with adore her. She always has their best interests in mind. Thank you Laura for choosing MES as your place of employment. It sure is a great place to go school, part of this is because of your service. Thank you.
Certified: Sarah English
Sarah English goes beyond a teacher's expectation and always manages to have a positive attitude at all times. She has a great relationship with all her students and thinks of each one of them while making her lesson plans. The students who get to be in Mrs. English's class are lucky to have this great educational climate. Sarah has made wonderful contributions to our STEM science. She always goes above and beyond to communicate with everyone the engaging tasks she has planned for the month. Her colleagues are grateful for her inspiring additions to academics. She has introduced fun ways to teach phonics along with daily 5 in the classroom. When sharing new information or communicating a plan she is helpful and always positive.Sarah, thank you so much for making Monticello Elementary a great place to go to school.
Montezuma Creek Elementary School
Classified: Marina Smallcanyon
I think Marina deserves this award due to the many tasks she does. I see that she gives tests, subs for teachers until a substitute arrives, She teaches a math small group and Beauty ways for two classes, She covers for Juanita in the office so that she can have a lunch break, she works on the many other things that many of us don't see. She is part of the Acadience Reading and Math Testing team and the Wida testing team. She is always busy moving from place to place.
She goes above and beyond in her assignments. She comes ready to work everyday. We appreciate all she does for the school and staff. We're so happy she is part of our staff at Montezuma Creek Elementary School. She is always pleasant and willing to help.
Certified: Micah Daniels: I feel Micah is very deserving of the Teacher of the Year Award. Although, she has been a teacher for a few years now. She is a well rounded teacher. Micah makes sure the students in her class feel like they have safe space, a chance to participate, to learn, and feel included. Not only does she focus on academics, she focuses on their mental health by doing talking circles, listening to how they feel, and she makes sure their needs are being met. Her students love her energy. I've been in her classroom and seen how her students are actively engaged in her lessons. They are writing down things and asking questions. Micah uses a variety of instructional methods to teach with. Sometimes it's lectures (with graphics), or hands on (games). She listens to the students and values their input. For example the Winter Skit for the School Program was student driven. Her students enjoy being in her class. She's a great teacher. She is also the co-director of the PBIS team! She gets involved in community events and has even volunteered with the MC youth sports program. We appreciate all she does for the school and staff. We're so happy she is part of our staff at Montezuma Creek Elementary School. She is always pleasant and willing to help.
Tse’Bii’Nidzisgai Elementary School
Classified: Stephanie Sanders
Stephanie is compassionate, has great people and organizational skills, and excels in any job in the front office. Stephanie is often referred to as the ‘mother’ of our school. If a child needs medical care, a listening ear, clean clothes, a warm coat, a cheerleader, a behavior ‘check-in’ adult, or a hug, Stephanie is right there with whatever our students need. She is willing to jump in and help wherever and whenever it is required, and the kids love her! Stephanie is there to give teachers gentle reminders to order certain supplies so they will get here on time. She is there to put little notes of encouragement and treats in the staff boxes. She has great people skills and organizational skills, she excels in any job in the front office. Stephanie is the person who ‘fills in the holes’ at our school. Whatever needs to be done, she does it. We are so grateful for Stephanie Sanders at TES!
Certified: Christine Rock
Christine is Kind, respectful, friendly, patient, professional, knowledgeable of the Navajo culture. As the Heritage Language teacher, Christine Rock exemplifies the Hozho Way and always walks in beauty. She loves her students and is proud of her culture and how it enriches all of their lives. Christine exhibits grace and beauty when she teaches students how to speak, dress and apply the teachings of her heritage. She always greets staff and students each day with her beautiful smile. relationship with our community at large.
Albert R Lyman Middle School
Classified: MeLisa Christensen
Affectionately known by the students as Ms. Lisa, Lisa Christensen is a great resource to our school and to our students. She has worked hard to develop small group lessons to help students improve their reading proficiency and better their overall language skills. She goes out of her way to support students and help them be successful. More than anything, she creates strong relationships with students and they love and trust her. If you see a student raising their hand for help in class or in homework hall, it doesn’t matter who goes to help them, they will be asking for their friend, Ms. Lisa.
Certified: Tel Walker
Mr. Walker has given our students a different outlook on the world and opened up doors for kids who struggle with traditional education. He allows students to create freely with materials that they would have not been exposed to otherwise. He creates an environment students want to be in. He has put in hours of time outside of school to create the first FFA chapter for ARL. This has benefited our students greatly and opened up new experiences for them. Whether it be finding unconventional ways to get materials for students, putting in hours in the shop after school helping a student learn how to weld, going out of his way to support a student with an FFA or 4H project, Mr. Walker does whatever it takes to give students the best experience he can
Monticello High School
Classified: Adriann Goodwine
Adrian Goodwin Is a crucial member of the Monticello High School family. She works restlessly supporting students so they achieve higher grades. Over the course of the past few years, her work has significantly improved the number of students that do not have to go into credit recovery. She does all of this with a smile on her face, truly making students feel welcome at MHS. Thank you, Adrian, for all you do!!
Certified: Lynda Boyle
Lynda’s love for history is contagious. Her excitement for her craft can be easy to observe in her classroom. In addition to being an integral teacher at MHS. Lynda is also a highly valued member of our school leadership team. Helping elevate Monticello High School to the next level. Thank you Lynda for all you do for Monticello High School.
Monument Valley High School
Classified: Kauldrinn Crank
Kauldrinn is patient, kind, hardworking and dedicated. Kauldrins colleagues stated: Kauldrin Crank has an enormous amount of patience and works well with the SpEd students. He is so willing to help students and provides a safe environment for students.
Certified: Misty Cly
Misty is passionate about her job. She never waits to be asked to complete a task. She seeks learning and gains understanding as she puts her all into her work. She is extremely dedicated, determined, and caring. Misty co-workers stated: Misty Cly goes above and beyond to support efforts for our students to be involved in school activities. Misty provides support to Seniors to help graduate students and seeks scholarship opportunities by providing technical assistance, bringing outside entities to inform of scholarship opportunities, college/universities representatives to help our students apply and make a smooth transition to higher education. Misty is a hard worker! She is always available to her students. She supports and advocates for her students. In addition, she is always seeking resources with which to assist her students. She also collaborates well with her colleagues!
Navajo Mountain High School
Classified: Genevieve Atene
Geneveive Atene joined the team at Navajo Mountain High School during the 2020-2021 school year. In February of 2021. She accepted the position of Parent Support Specialist and has supported parents and students in a variety of ways. She helps parents with the online school registration process, even going out to the homes of parents who cannot make it to the school to register their children for school. Geneveive also supports parents and students with post-secondary pursuits, like registering for college or applying for scholarships or other endeavors. She has been a big help with preparing for parent/teacher conferences, even preparing meals sometimes. In addition to her assigned duties, Genevieve often jumps in to set up a bulletin board to get information out to students, staff and parents. Her contributions make Navajo Mountain High School a more pleasant place to work.
Certified: LeRoy Bedonie
Leroy Bedonie grew up in and around Navajo Mountain; he has always had a strong connection to the community. After high school, Leroy pursued a career in welding at the Peabody coal mine near Kayenta, Arizona. When he was young, he enjoyed rodeoing. After the coal mine closed, Mr. Bedonie decided to share his welding skills with the youth in the community. He first started teaching welding at Shonto Preparatory School in Shonto, Arizona. In 2013 Mr. Bedonie returned to Navajo Mountain to teach welding and woodworking classes at Navajo Mountain High School. A year later Mr. Bedonie graciously accepted the assignment of teaching the Navajo Language and culture classes at NMHS in addition to teaching CTE classes. More recently, Mr. Bedonie added Art Foundations to his teaching load. He has been a real team player. Mr. Bedonie has also coached several successful sports teams at MHS since he has been here. Additionally, Mr. Bedonie has been a great advocate for the students and for the school in Navajo Mountain. Mr. Bedonie has made tremendous contributions to the education of the students in Navajo Mountain.
San Juan High School
Classified: Kimberlee Baker
As our librarian, Kim has brought so much positivity to San Juan High. Kim is always willing to help where help is needed. Students always feel welcomed when they go to the library. She has an amazing way to connect with kids. Thank you Kim for making San Juan High a better place.
Certified: Valena Cody
Valena has been a huge asset to San Juan High School and ARL. She works extremely hard to make Heritage Language classes engaging for all her students. Students love her class. She serves an important role by bringing the Native American culture to both schools. Thank you Valena for all you do!
Whitehorse High School
Classified: Irene Carter
Irene is patient, kind, and dependable. Irene Carter patiently works with scholars who have severe/moderate IEP needs. She consistently greets them early every morning so they can get breakfast and experience a positive start to their day. Furthermore, Irene is friendly to all scholars and staff. She routinely finds positive ways to support her colleagues and a wide range of scholars. Due to Irene’s efforts, high numbers of scholars with an IEP pass their classes the first time and this means they remain on track for earning a high school diploma.
Certified: Shoshina Harvey
Shoshina Harvery has genuine interest in current events and social media tools related to scholars and a willingness to consider and inspire multiple perspectives. Soshina Harvey jumps at the opportunity to implement new learning strategies and/or technology. She is creative and innovative in adapting professional learning to both her scholars’ needs and her classroom environment. Any observer who sporadically visits Soshina’s classroom will consistently experience scholar collaboration, high levels of respect for each other and their teacher, purposeful learning with maximum use of time, and active engagement with the texts. Soshina is inspiring WHS scholars to thoroughly analyze text, clearly articulate the evidence that supports a claim, write in a coherent manner, and revise their work. These skills will help scholars for their entire life!
Classified: Ashley Cosby
Ashley is the glue that holds the food service department together. She keeps all the kitchens updated, runs all the ordering, manages the deliveries and keeps everything running smoothly every day. Ashley is truly one of a kind. No matter the task she is given, she does it efficiently and effectively. Ashley is aware of the needs of the kitchens and makes sure Anna doesn't forget the things that are needed every day. The Food Service Department wouldn't be able to run smoothly without Ashley.
Certified: Jennifer Johnson
Managing 50 million dollars isn’t easy, but Jennifer helps account for every dollar. Between preparing budget documents, ensuring compliance for audits, recording revenues, submitting grant reimbursements, or answering the many questions that come her way, she is always busy helping this district run smoothly. Jennifer is always willing to help solve the many problems that seem to be never ending. The business office and the entire district is lucky to have Jennifer on our team. Thank you for all you do Jennifer!
Certified: Steve Duke
If there is one person in the San Juan School District who could be called a Rock Star, it is Steve Duke. When he picks up his students for group, they are excited and eager to go. As Steve works hard to make his sessions a positive and enjoyable part of his students' day, the students are convinced they are playing the whole time. Not to mention, he also has some of the coolest gadgets for students to use to access their education. Steve is also a great support to our Special Education staff. He provides help and strategies for our teachers and paras to implement to improve the outcomes of students with disabilities. Steve is very deserving of this recognition tonight and San Juan School District is fortunate to have him as part of our team. Congratulations Steve!
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