Sandy City Youth Council honors outstanding Sandy teachers
Local teachers Shelly Edmonds, Phil Talbot, Kenneth Herlin, Heather Gooch, Rita Egbert, Robert Violano and John Henrichsen recently were awarded plaques when they were honored by Sandy City Youth Council. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
When Brighton High student Tyler Sunde felt overwhelmed in school, she turned to her teacher for a listening ear. Those moments of having teacher support were significant to Tyler, who recently honored her former teacher, Rita Egbert, as one of Sandy City Youth Council’s outstanding teachers.
Egbert, who teaches sixth-grade science at Eastmont Middle School, and Heather Gooch, who is an advanced-placement biology and environmental science teacher at Jordan High, were two Sandy teachers who were recognized at the council’s 23rd annual Teacher Appreciation Dinner.
Egbert, who has taught 27 years in elementary school and four years in middle school, said this was the first time a student had nominated her for an award.
“You really don’t realize the impact you have had on your students until something like this,” she said. “I’m not a real awards person, but when it comes from a student, there’s a personal connection. She has really found her path and is thriving.”
Egbert, who was Jordan School District’s 1996 Teacher of the Year before the district split and has been highlighted by KSL’s “Teacher Feature,” said she was there for Tyler.
“I’d listen to her and give her hugs. I expressed my support and expectations of her. She has popped in every year since then. She’s a fun gal and full of enthusiasm,” Egbert said.
Gooch also was surprised when her student, Hudson Cline, nominated her for the award.
“I didn’t know he nominated me until the week of the award,” she said. “I haven’t had a student go out of the way for me. It’s flattering.”
Hudson told the audience at the recognition dinner that he found his teacher inspiring.
“Every time I walked into her classroom, we had one-and-one-half hours of learning and I didn’t realize it because the time went by so quickly,” he said. “She teaches us with life lessons where we’d find ourselves laughing. She kept us on time in preparing for our AP exam and would always be there if I’d need help or was struggling. Her class is always fun and she’d always smile at the end of the class period.”
Gooch said it’s her love of the subject matter that carries over to her students.
“I teach because I love doing it and if I’m having a great time, I smile and it inspires them to do the same. My teaching career feels like a hobby because I’m still all jazzed up about coming to school,” said the 21-year veteran teacher.
Gooch admits her subject matter can be rigorous.
“AP biology is hard, so I’m constantly giving them confidence so they don’t feel anxious for the test. It’s intense, but these AP kids are motivated and can grasp the material, so I try to make it fun and relieve some of the pressures. Then, when I see their light bulbs go on and they understand the complicated topics, we celebrate them,” she said.
Sandy City Mayor Tom Dolan said he thinks the world is in good hands because of the teachers’ encouragement with students.
“These students are our main successes with their scholarship and their service to our community and we thank our teachers for their influence,” he said. “We appreciate our teachers and what they mean to us, to our students. Every teacher has the right heart and how they express it and how students remember it is moving.”
Four students who attend Hillcrest High in Midvale also honored teachers. These include Alex Cheng, who selected Hillcrest High international baccalaureate math teacher Kenneth Herlin; Megan Okumura, who recognized Hillcrest High English teacher Shelly Edmonds; Melissa Regalado, who nominated Hillcrest High AP, IB and honors biology teacher Phil Talbot; and Amelia Slama-Catron, who honored Midvale Middle School’s seventh-grade science teacher John Henrichsen and Midvale Middle School’s eighth-grade science teacher Robert Violano.