Students, teachers cheer for excellent educators in Park City schools
When members of the Park City High School band paraded into Rodrigo Rivas’ classroom at McPolin Elementary School last Friday, he and his students were both startled. But their surprise quickly turned into joy when educational leaders presented Rivas with an award.
Rivas smiled as students and staff from McPolin filed into his classroom to cheer him on. The Louis and Doilney families and Park City Education Foundation presented Rivas, a fourth-grade teacher at McPolin, and teachers across the district with Excellent Educator Awards.
The annual tradition of celebrating teachers in the Park City School District started in 1996. Jim Doilney, a Park City resident, created the awards to honor his parents, Sarah and Stephen Doilney. Sarah Doilney was a teacher. He invited the Louis family to join the tradition, and they now sponsor the majority of the awards. The Doilney family sponsors the Sarah and Stephen Doilney Award.
School staffers nominate teachers who go above and beyond for the award. McPolin teachers said in comments included in the nominations that Rivas helps students from all grades with their Spanish. He also volunteers his time four times a week to run an after-school club to help students with their language acquisition and other homework.
One teacher said “his love for his students and learning is beyond inspiring.”
When Kara Hendrickson, a member of the Park City Board of Education, asked the students pouring into his classroom if they thought Rivas deserved the award, they shouted “Yes” in unison.
The other recipients of Excellent Educator awards were Allyson McGuire, a counselor at Trailside Elementary School; Sherry Barski, a reading specialist at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School; Kara Cook, a first-grade teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary School; Summer Marshall, a technology instructional coach at Ecker Hill Middle School; Mary Kay Becker, a special education teacher at Treasure Mountain Junior High; and Mary Sue Purzycki, a science teacher at Park City High School.
The Doilney family also presented Janice Jones, a chemistry teacher at Park City High School, with the Sarah and Stephen Doilney Award. The senior class of 2019 selects the recipient of the Sarah and Stephen Doilney Award, which can be any teacher in the district.
Teachers and students were both excited to celebrate educators who go the extra mile. At Trailside, all the teachers stood and applauded as McGuire accepted the award. They rushed up to her after to tell her she was deserving of the award and that they were proud of her.
Sue Minneci, a kindergarten teacher at Trailside, said McGuire has helped all of the teachers as she implemented mindfulness practices at the school.
One of the teacher comments said “Allyson is a tireless educator who has changed the course of our school in a very positive direction.”
After the assembly, McGuire said she could hardly believe that she had been selected.
“There are so many people who come in every day and work so hard to support our kids. Everyone in here is incredible, and I am honored,” she said.
Students also had good things to say about their teachers. When Max Doilney presented Jones with the award at PCHS, he read student comments that said “She exemplified patience and encouragement and sincerity,” and “Her class has been an influence on so many seniors’ lives.”
After the school-wide celebration in the lunchroom, Jones said she was thrilled. She has taught in the district for 20 years, and she is proud of all the students’ lives she has touched.
Five of her former students are set to graduate with college degrees in chemistry this year, she said. She loves keeping in contact with the students she taught and maintaining relationships with them throughout their lives. Being able to have an impact on students’ lives is her biggest reward, she said.
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