Teachers honored during annual Excellent Educator Express
Teachers listened in anticipation as the announcer paused before reading the name. When he glanced up and said, “Lana Youngberg” into the microphone, teachers jumped up and down, cheered and started to cry from joy.
Youngberg, a beloved kindergarten teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary School, is retiring at the end of the school year, but not before she was presented with a Doilney Excellent Educator Award in front of the whole school. She was one of several teachers in the Park City School District who were recognized on April 27 during the annual Park City Education Foundation Doilney Excellent Educator Express, which is put on by the PCEF and Doilney Family and sponsored by Deer Valley Resort.
Jim Doilney created the awards in 1996 to honor his parents, Sarah and Stephen Doilney. Along with the celebration and their name on a plaque, the teachers also receive a monetary award.
Teachers who earned the honor were shocked, overjoyed and speechless during the event, which involves an entourage of officials and the Park City High School band traveling to each school to deliver the awards. Paula Baltzan, a social studies teacher at Park City High School, repeated the words, “What is this?” as members of the school’s band entered her room playing a tune. She thought one of her students was being asked to a dance or receiving an award until she saw her significant other.
Molly Doilney Crosswhite presented Baltzan with the honor and read comments from other teachers from the high school who had nominated her. Some said Baltzan was reflective and empathetic, others that “her commitment to teach life-long learners is inspiring.” Teachers in each school nominate winners for the award.
“It is very touching to know that my peers feel that way about me,” Baltzan said. “It’s amazing. It’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling.”
The other recipients of Excellent Educator awards were Sheryl McDonald, a music teacher at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School; Vanessa Jobe, a special education teacher at Trailside Elementary School; Amy Vanover, a counselor at McPolin Elementary School; Ginny Etheridge, an instructional coach at Ecker Hill Middle School; and Megan McKenna, a science teacher at Treasure Mountain Junior High.
Eric Janes, a math teacher at Park City High School, was awarded the Sarah and Stephen Doilney Award. The senior class votes for a teacher who was the most influential. It can be given to any teacher in the district. Students said in their comments that he made AP Calculus enjoyable and boosted their confidence in math.
After receiving the award, Janes said that he was surprised because he knows who the best teachers are in the school, and even coming close to them is an honor.
Youngberg had a similar reaction. She has seen teachers receive the award every year since she started teaching at Parley’s Park 20 years ago. She said that the former recipients were great examples to her, and she hopes to be the same to her peers.
Tracy Bowers, another kindergarten teacher at Parley’s Park, said that Youngberg already is an example to her.
“She is gentle, kind and patient to the very end, trying her best to make sure her students learn,” she said. “She always gives 110 percent.”
Bowers, who had tears in her eyes after the ceremony, said that she has worked side by side with Youngberg since Bowers started teaching at the school in 2003.
Youngberg also had an old fan come to celebrate her achievement with her. Andrew Cier, who was in her first kindergarten class, said he still remembers how kind and soft-spoken she was.
“All that I needed to learn to succeed in life I learned in kindergarten,” he said.
Youngberg was grateful for the support of Cier and many others. At each of the schools, students congratulated their teachers. Elementary students waited in line to hug Vanover at McPolin Elementary and students stood up to cheer and high-five McKenna at Treasure Mountain Junior High as she stepped to the front of the crowd to receive her award.
As the presenters announced the winners, almost everyone was happy to, “recognize educators who go above and beyond to ensure that our students in the school district are poised for a very successful future.”
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Park City High School students have had to adjust to remote learning once more after a spike in coronavirus cases forced the school to temporarily close its doors.