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Last week, two teachers from Provo City School District were honored with the Sorensen Legacy Award for the Arts.
This award honors educators who embrace the arts with excellence in their practice in Utah’s public schools. The teachers from Provo City School District included Kaitlin Thompson, a dance specialist at Provost Elementary, and Lisa Gardner, a first grade teacher at Edgemont Elementary.
Kaitlin Thompson has been teaching creative dance for children for the last 3 years, with 2 of those years teaching at Provost. She studied dance at BYU and now is part of the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program, which means that she works alongside classroom teachers to assist in developing lesson plans for the core curriculum that incorporate different forms of art, such as dance. This program provides art-integrated instruction to students, which ultimately increases positive student performance in all school subjects. She uses dance as the medium to teach and reinforce topics that students are learning in the classroom. When asked her favorite part about teaching, she says, “It is so hard to choose just one favorite thing about teaching, but I love seeing students take ownership of and be proud of movement they create; I also love pushing my students to accomplish things they didn’t think or expect they could do; and I love the hugs”.
Lisa Garner has been teaching for 15 years and currently teaches first grade at Edgemont Elementary School. She uses all art forms, providing all students the means to access the core curriculum in varied and deeply meaningful ways. Lisa notes that here favorite thing about teaching is the students. She says, “I care about connecting with my students and I know that the way I feel about them, as well as how I feel about being a lifelong learner, translates into a warm, inviting, and safe place in which they learn to take risks, feel loved and appreciated. As a result, they desire to learn for the sake of learning, and to take on difficult challenges. I care very much that they grow as caring individuals. Due to the amount of collaboration and communication during project based learning in teams, a foundation is set for their lives of what it means to be a good citizen—what it means to look beyond one’s self, and to care about and help one’s neighbor. I love using an integrated approach to learning by using the arts to support the core subjects. I love when children are engaged in thought provoking experiences that challenge them, teach them lifelong skills such as how to persevere, how to problem solve, and how to question things, digging deeper to find the answers. I love when they discover things that they can excel at, that they never knew about before. Art provides that medium for self-discovery, and for learning dispositions that we want people to have.”
Each of these teachers was honored at an awards dinner on April 27 and received both $2,500 for themselves and $2,500 for their school. Congratulations to these great teachers and thank you for the outstanding education you are providing to our students!