|Steven Laing, Utah State School Superintendent, presents a check for $25,000 to Carrie Jean Jones, while students hold placards detailing the amount of her award.|
Castle Dale Elementary was the site for some pretty big excitement on Wednesday. A special assembly was held to honor one of their teachers. State School Superintendent Steven Laing as well as Olene Walker, lieutenant governor for the state of Utah attended the assembly. Local school board members, Laurel Johansen, Rue Ware, Sam Singleton and Marie Guymon were also on hand to show their support.
Castle Dale Principal, Ralph Worthen welcomed everyone to the assembly. The audience was treated to a display of the Shirley English made easy program by some Castle Dale Elementary students. This program helps students with their grammar skills. After the demonstration, Principal Worthen introduced the Emery School District's Superintendent Kirk Sitterud. He explained to the students that he is responsible for the 10 schools in Emery County. He commended the students for learning what their teachers have for them each day. He commended the teachers of Castle Dale Elementary for their high goals and standards for achievement. He told the students when they leave the elementary to move into the junior high and high school that they will be smart kids. Superintendent Sitterud introduced the school board members to the audience. He told the students that these are the people who work behind the scenes to ensure a quality education for all the students in the Emery School District.
Superintendent Laing spoke next, he said, "I am happy to be here and watching the students do their demonstration reminded me of Mr. Smith, a teacher I had in 7th grade. He taught us to diagram sentences and he made it fun. From that point on, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher. One of the teachers at Castle Dale Elementary that was a student when I taught school is Mrs. Jones. She used to be in a class of mine and she was Miss Leslie at the time.
"Teachers are important and they aren't recognized often enough for the work they do. People in the Olympics win gold medals and people in the movies win Oscars, but teachers don't get much recognition. A gentlemen who made a lot of money decided to change that. He credited the money he was able to make back to the teachers who taught him in the public school system. He decided to recognize teachers, with the Milken Family Foundation. They recognize teachers who do outstanding work, with money and recognition. He did this also to make a big deal out of teachers so that maybe some of you will decide to become teachers. Teachers affect the future," said Superintendent Laing.
Superintendent Laing enlisted the help of young students for the next part of the program. The students held up the numbers and soon they were in their correct order. The cash prize for the teacher was to be, $25,000. Superintendent Laing said the teacher to be recognized had spent many long years in pursuit of excellence in the classroom and he was honored to present, Carrie Jean Jones with the award.
Jones was very surprised with the award and many well wishers congratulated her on her way down the stairs to accept the award. Jones said, "I couldn't do the things here at Castle Dale Elementary without all of you.
|Carrie Jean Jones is congratulated by her students.|
We have great teachers who always send me students who are prepared to learn. I love the students. I would like to share this money with the school. If I didn't love the students, I would have to quit coming through the door." Jones was a bit stunned with the proceedings and Principal Worthen told the audience that he had a hard secret to keep. "She had a doctor's appointment on this day and I had to tell her she couldn't have the day off to go to this appointment. We even went so far as to find out who her doctor was and we called him and asked him to call Carrie and tell her that he couldn't make the appointment. I hope she understands now. I want to thank all of our teachers who make our school good. The kids come here and they want to learn and are prepared."
The assembly ended and the students all rushed out to recess. Reporters for the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune were on hand to interview Jones after the assembly. She said, "I had no idea this was coming. I have been teaching for the last 15 years. I spent three years at Huntington Elementary and the last years at Castle Dale Elementary. Right now I teach both fourth and fifth grades. I did think it was a little strange when my doctor called and said he couldn't be there today.
"I went back to school to become a teacher when my youngest child was 2-years-old. Since then I have earned my master's degree with Utah State. I love students and make efforts so they can learn. We have done a lot with science in my classroom. I have also won the national science teacher of the year award for 1997-98. I've also been the regional science teacher of the year. I also do in-service learning for teachers on the science core. I love science and have taught for the Ames Foundation out of California at global, national, and regional science conferences around the country. I was teaching about electricity at these conferences.
"I would like to share the money with the school. We'll get together with the teachers and let them decide. I would like to get a projector or something that would benefit the school. I will also get some items that will benefit my classroom and then put the rest of the money in savings. I'm really into technology and maybe I'll get a Smart Board for my classroom," said Jones.
When asked if she had any advice for new teachers, she said, "You have to love what you're doing, love the kids and then teach second. If the students don't think they're loved then they can't learn from you. Teaching is a 24-7 job and you have to be prepared for a lot of work. I learn so much from my students. I am really the student and they are the teachers.
"If a student is having a bad day there is a reason behind it and you need to find out the reason behind the behavior. You have to dig a little deeper than what's on the surface.
"I am married to Dennis Jones and we live in Orangeville. Our children are Nicole Pugmire, 29, who lives in Virginia and is a Level four math teacher. Our daughter Mandie Torgerson, 26, is living in Moscow, Idaho and attending law school. Our son Coby, 22, is attending college and wants to become a doctor. Our son Jesse, 20, is attending the College of Eastern Utah.
"My family helped out a lot when I made the decision to return to school. They know all of our students and we talk education all the time at home. My husband is the principal at Cottonwood Elementary so we have a lot in common. I love to teach that's why I became a teacher and I love to be around children. Love the children first and then teach, I haven't changed my philosophy since I started teaching. Kids deserve so much, there shouldn't be grouchy teachers, you have to love what you do and you should only teach as long as you enjoy it," said Jones.