Stephanie Hunt Named a Top Inspiring Teacher in Utah and Honored With $10,000 from the National University System – Sanford Teacher Award

In recognition of inspirational teaching nationwide, Stephanie Hunt of Clayton Middle School in the Salt Lake City School District has been named the Utah recipient of the first-ever National University System-Sanford Teacher Award. The 51 teachers, representing each state, and the District of Columbia, each receive $10,000 for demonstrating their commitment to creating inspirational and harmonious classrooms that support student development and achievement. The award is in the name of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, who is committed to supporting inspiring teaching nationwide through Pre K-12 programs that are being expanded nationally by the National University System. Each of today’s teacher recipients qualify for a chance to be recognized as the national winner of the Sanford Teacher Award, which will be named in early 2019.

The teachers were selected by a committee of educators based on an application process that included nominations and information provided by each teacher to assess how closely they represent characteristics of inspiring teaching, which included: Enthusiasm for teaching; empathy and warmth towards all students; fostering positive relationships with all students; creating a positive learning environment; and recognizing student strengths.

The qualities reflect the mission of education-focused programs based on the vision of Mr. Sanford that are being expanded nationally through the leadership of the private, nonprofit National University System, which is home to one of the Top Ten largest schools of education in the country. The Sanford Programs include Sanford Harmony, a Pre K-6 social emotional learning program that helps children develop communication and collaboration skills, and the Pre K-12 Sanford Inspire program that offers teachers research-based resources and lessons to create inspiring classroom experiences.

“The National University System is so pleased to be honoring the vision of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford by recognizing inspiring teachers around the country through the Sanford Teacher Award,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the San Diego-based National University System. “Teachers give so much of themselves to their students, schools and communities, and the Sanford Teacher Award is a way for us to celebrate the contributions of inspiring teachers who encourage children to reach their greatest potential.”

The Sanford Teacher Award is part of the national expansion efforts of the National University System-based Sanford Programs, which in addition to Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire also includes a national network of fundraiser training programs anchored by the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at National University. Mr. Sanford has donated about $130 million toward the National University System in support of the programs’ national expansion, an effort that involves the collaboration of universities around the country that share a similar focus and dedication to the professional support of educators and the nonprofit sector. To date, more than 3 million people have been impacted by the three programs.

“As a child, I was fortunate to have a few teachers who truly inspired me to learn and succeed. Educators have many similar opportunities to touch children’s lives and make meaningful impacts that can last a lifetime,” said Mr. Sanford. “As an entrepreneur and philanthropist, I can think of no better return on investment than inspiring students to embrace learning and find their path in life.”

The teachers being honored today are in addition to five Inaugural Sanford Teacher Award recipients who were identified earlier on in the campaign for representing key qualities being celebrated by the Sanford Teacher Award, and who were involved in raising awareness of the campaign. Both the Inaugural recipients and the teachers announced today qualify for the national title, which adds up to a total award of $50,000 for one of the teachers.

College of Education Alumna receives 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year!

The Utah State Board of Education on Thursday, September 6, 2018, gave West High School social studies teacher Kellie May, the title of Teacher of the Year.

Kellie first graduated from the University of Utah in 1995, earning a Bachelor of Science in health education with a history teaching minor. The following August, Kellie was hired by Salt Lake City School District where she would begin her 23-year professional career.

Kellie returned to the University of Utah in 1997 to pursue her first Master’s degree in Educational Studies.  Later she was encouraged by an administrator to pursue an administrative license. This landed her back at the U and studying with cohort that would lead to a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy.


from Deseret News, Ashley Imlay

Kellie May, of Murray, also teaches classes for Advancement Via Individual Determination, a nonprofit that helps prepare students for college. In addition, she teaches at Urban Institute for Teacher Education at the University of Utah, according to a news release from the State School Board.

“To say that she is a student advocate is an understatement. In her classroom, Ms. May provides traditionally underrepresented students with opportunities that allow them to achieve the academic success necessary for college access,” said Mary Burbank, director of the Urban Institute for Teacher Education.

For one of those students, Martina Martinez of West High, “Ms. May has urged me to continue with higher education. She has motivated me at my darkest points to never give up on my dream,” she said in the news release.

Comment on this story “She is an amazing teacher who inspires her students to thrive and become the best they can be,” Martinez added.

As part of the award, May received a $10,000 check and will get to compete with other states’ teachers of the year in a national competition, according to the release.

First runner-up for the award was Anjanette McNeeley, a kindergarten teacher at Layton Elementary School. Archer Birrell, a fourth-grade teacher at Hillside Elementary School, was named second runner-up, officials said.