Sandy APEX Award Winners Motivated By Students
By Julie Slama
Sandy - For years, Betty Shaw has volunteered alongside hundreds of other parents and volunteers in the Utah Parent-Teacher Association, wanting to help students learn and achieve. In September, she was honored as one of nine individuals who make a difference in the education of school children with the Canyons Board of Education APEX award.
“A lot of people do a lot of good, and they all need to be recognized,” said Shaw, who is the region 17 PTA director. “I’m humbled, but I can’t do anything by myself. We — teachers, volunteers and people in the community — all do it because it’s about children, wanting them to be happy and to be loved, wanting kids to shine.”
Shaw, who was named the APEX Volunteer of the Year for her work in PTA, was presented a crystal, along with the other award winners, at a celebratory dinner Sept. 22. They were selected by the Canyons Board of Education and Superintendent Jim Briscoe after reading nominations from students, families, staff, faculty, administrators and community members.
“We host this event every year to pay tribute to those in our community who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us as we have worked to provide a world-class education to our children,” Canyons Board of Education president Sherril H. Taylor said. “We have reached out to many people in this endeavor, and we have not been disappointed in their willingness to respond, roll up their sleeves, and go to work.”
Among this year’s award winners from Sandy was Sunrise Elementary secretary Marilyn Gulbransen, who was named Education Support Professional of the Year.
“I was surprised, amazed, overwhelmed, felt appreciated,” said Gulbransen, who was a former Sunrise PTA president when her children attended the school. “When you do something you love and have a passion for, and a place you love to work, you just want to step a little higher. The principal, the teachers, the staff, the parents — we’re all here to empower the children. We work together because we value each other’s opinions for achieving the best for these kids. I’m just humbled to be honored amongst the others, like the mayor, the senator and all these great people.”
Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, whose own children attended schools in the Canyons District, appreciated the APEX Elected Official of the Year Award.
“I got a call and it was surprising and I was honored to be recognized by Canyons School District,” he said. “Right from the beginnings, Canyons School District did a lot of things right. (Former) Superintendent David Doty reached out to the legislature, which was a bit of fresh air, so we could discuss policy issues that helped me as a legislator discuss them on Capitol Hill. The district and I still meet regularly and I’ve really appreciated it.”
Mayor Tom Dolan, who helped support the creation of Canyons School District seven years ago, said he was pleased to receive the APEX Legacy Award.
“We housed the district in city hall and helped them get established with a start-up loan of about one-half of one-million dollars,” Dolan said. “We have a terrific relationship with the school board and superintendent. We share the new Mt. Jordan (Middle School) theater and use fields for recreation and gyms for Junior Jazz (recreational basketball program). For our taxpayers, who support both the city and school district, we’re pleased to have a solid relationship and pleased to see the district become so successful and provide quality education to the children.”
Business aside, Dolan said a highlight of the relationship is visiting students’ classrooms.
“My most favorite part is talking to the little kids, the really little ones in the classroom. I’ve asked them how many of them are registered voters, and all their hands fly up,” he said, laughing.
As part of the awards, Canyons also recognized Alta High’s physics teacher Matt Leininger as the district’s Teacher of the Year, who was selected out of 46 other teachers last spring and is being considered for the state title.
“I have students in my class that don’t like physics, but they have said they love my class,” Leininger said last spring. “I try to explain that physics is applied math, and any decision they make comes through the logic of physics. When I teach, I see the students as my own children in their seats, needing praise and discipline. I treat them with respect, love and making sure they know I care about them. I teach them success isn’t an option. It is a result where everyone finds success.”