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Draper Journal

Sandy City Youth Council honors outstanding Draper teacher

Jun 28, 2018 10:09AM ● By Julie Slama

Area teachers were honored by Sandy City Youth Council students for making an impact on their lives. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Arnett)

By Julie Slama | [email protected] 

Hillcrest High School student Shaistah Din is thankful for her teacher who believed in her and her ability in math. 

“The calculus class that I took in 10th grade would not have been possible without the foundation that Ms. Larsen set for me in sixth grade,” she said. 

That foundation led Din to honor American Preparatory Academy’s Amanda Larsen as one of Sandy City Youth Council’s outstanding teachers. She was one of six Sandy teachers recognized with a plaque at the council’s 24th annual Teacher Appreciation Dinner. 

Larsen, who hadn’t seen Din since she was in her classroom until Din came to invite her to the recognition, said she was touched by the honor. 

“I hear about teachers making impacts, but this is the first time it’s happened to me,” she said. “It was my first year teaching. She’s the first student to nominate me for an award.” 

Larsen recalls Din getting frustrated with her math ability. 

“She was fun, even if she struggled some to understand the concepts that generally get harder at this level. I just told her to always have a good attitude and at least try. She’s smart and kind, and now, I hear she’s tutoring math. She told me she ‘wants to either be a neurosurgeon or a teacher like you.’ It’s the greatest feeling when you know you’ve helped change someone’s life. This really makes a difference.” 

Larsen received a clock with her name on it that sits on her desk at school. 

The event was coordinated by volunteer youth council teacher appreciation dinner coordinator Marsha Millet. 

“It’s a special night where teachers are being honored by their students,” she said. “For many of these teachers, they have never been honored in years of teaching and if they have, few have ever been selected by their students who have been directly impacted by their teaching.” 

The evening’s events included remarks by Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, who recalled how teachers impacted him, she said.

“He spoke about the importance of honest and good characters and how that is also learned from teachers,” Millet said. 

The event, which honored 11 teachers and coaches, was supported by four city council members: Steve Fairbanks, Linda Martinez-Saville, Chris McCandless, and Zach Robinson. 

Council co-mayor Megan Okumura welcomed teachers and members Alex Cheng, on piano, and Abby Murri, on violin with her mother accompanying her, provided entertainment. 

Other area teachers who were recognized included Jordan High’s Brandon Cressall, Susan Homer, David Morrill and Rachel Hardy; Alta High’s Chad VanOrden; Park Lane Elementary’s Susan Homer; Hillcrest High’s Katie Bullock, Kenneth Herlin and Austin Hilla; and Brighton High’s assistant swim coach Jordan Fletcher. 

Okumura said it’s important to honor teachers. 

“As a future educator myself, I find teachers to be very under appreciated yet very needed,” she said. “I can thank every teacher I’ve ever had for shaping a part of who I am today because they have such an impact on our lives. It’s important that teachers are recognized not just by their students, but by the city as well to show that all the hard work they’re doing does not go unrecognized or unappreciated. Without teachers, our world would be a lot darker place.”