History and Theater, Emery High School
Neal Peacock has taught history for more than 35 years. His colleagues joke that he has forgotten more history than they have ever known. After teaching the AP History course for over 20 years, Peacock moved to teach mainstream students in order to give them a love for history as well. Besides history, Peacock has directed more than 200 plays, giving up many after-school hours directing and working with students. “Every year I tell myself his school musical for the year was his best and he will never be able to top it, and every year I am wrong,” wrote a co-worker.
One of Peacock’s students said, “Neal encourages students to believe in themselves and they learn to believe in themselves because he believes in them.” Peacock shares his passions with his students and helps them find their own. His students continue to come to him for advice and knowledge long after they graduate.
Social Studies, Spanish Fork High School
Not seeking recognition for his contributions to both his school and community, Jesse Roberts’ top priority is providing opportunities for real student learning. “He implements researched-based tools to collect data to help identify areas of student learning and move his practice forward,” says a colleague. Roberts teaches students from a wide range of academic backgrounds. He makes a point to set academic goals with each student then supports them until they achieve those goals.
Besides teaching, Roberts spends his summers working as a firefighter and is also a coach at the school. He uses his free time to take workshops to better his teaching. When his school designed a program to help at-risk students graduate, Roberts was chosen to be an adult advocate because of his obvious talent in connecting with students. One student said of him, “Mr. Roberts has been helping me get good grades. He helps me with my disability to do better in all my classes. I am so grateful for his help.”
Fifth Grade, Hurricane Elementary School
Dan Zaleski is first and foremost an advocate for his students. He works to have a personal relationship with them so they can succeed. Along with teaching fifth grade, Zalenski is a partner teacher in the Spanish Dual Immersion Program. A parent wrote, “my daughter used to hate math and considered it her worst subject…It was too hard. After Mr. Zaleski taught her and convinced her that ‘math always makes sense and has patterns’ she learned to understand how math works…Now she loves math and it is her favorite subject.”
With more than 33 years in the classroom, Mr Zalenski has impacted multiple generations of students. A colleague writes, “Not only has he taught the children of former students, he is now teaching the next generation of grandchildren of his former students. Over twenty of his former students have become teachers themselves, and two are now college professors due in part to Dan's influence.”
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