Park City teachers honored with annual Excellent Educators Awards
The surprise hit Steve Cuttitta when he saw children carrying a large paper banner that had two words painted on it: Congratulations Steve.
He didn’t get into teaching to win an award. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel good. Cuttitta, an English teacher at Park City High School, on Friday was given the Stephen and Sarah Doilney Award, an honor voted on by the senior class.
"That’s really nice," he said. "I think I know how the students feel about me, so I don’t need an award to justify that, I guess. But it is really nice to have them write my name down on a piece of paper and say, ‘This is the person that we think had an impact on our lives.’ That’s a very cool thing."
Cuttitta was among eight teachers in the district honored during the Park City Education Foundation and Deer Valley Resort’s annual Doilney Excellent Educator Express event on Friday, in which representatives travel to each school to deliver the awards to teachers in surprise ceremonies. The awards have been handed out each year since 1996, when resident Jim Doilney created them in honor of his parents, Sarah and Stephen Doilney, and they day they’re delivered has become a highlight of the year for many in the district and community.
The other winners were: Debra Guthery, Jeremy Ranch Elementary School; Melanie Coffelt, McPolin Elementary School; Melissa Bott, Parley’s Park Elementary School; Susan Beasom, Trailside Elementary School; Liz Thompson, Ecker Hill Middle School; Laura Bechdel, Treasure Mountain Junior High; Corrie Potts, Park City High School.
Apart from the Stephen and Sarah Doilney Award winner, the honorees are chosen by the staff at each school. They have been deemed to have gone beyond their normal duties to help shape the futures of the students they teach.
Beasom, the librarian at Trailside Elementary, said she was stunned when her name was read in the school’s crowded auditorium. Students stood and cheered. Many refused to go back to class until they had given her a hug. For Beasom, the honor was further proof that she’s at the right place at the right time.
"I’m really grateful to be part of the Trailside community," she said. "Everyone who is here, it’s just a great place to be. And you couldn’t ask for any better kids. It’s really nice to be part of a community that values its educators. I’m thankful to be part of it."
For many of the teachers, the awards served as reminders of why they entered the field in the first place — not for recognition, but to make a difference in the lives of young people. Cuttitta, after the horde of students eager to congratulate him had emptied from his hallway and gone back to class, reflected on what teaching means to him.
"The kids that you meet along the way — I have about 120 in my six classes and that’s 120 different personalities that I get to know," he said. And the last few years, I’ve had seniors, and I’m one of the last teachers sending them off before they get to go face off in the world. So we talk about a lot of things, about what’s going to happen next year and in the years beyond. That’s a really cool thing."
Potts shared a similar outlook. She is an English language learner aide at PCHS. To Potts, making a difference is more important than knowing what, exactly, the difference is. She said it was her mother, a single parent of seven children, who gave her that philosophy of what it means to be a teacher, long before she ever entered a classroom in Park City.
"She instilled in us the value of education, and also how education comes in different forms," she said. "It’s not just a teacher talking to you, it’s so much more than that. That’s what I learned from my mom and it’s carried through. I’ve always been a teacher in one form or another."
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A district spokesperson said six students were removed from an area in the school as police conducted a search.