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West Jordan Journal

West Jordan’s 2019 Outstanding Teachers of the Year

May 09, 2019 01:41PM ● By Jet Burnham

Students congratulate their teacher, Joshua Brothers, for his Outstanding Teacher of the Year recognition. (Photo courtesy JEF)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Only 18 out of 2,500 teachers in Jordan District were awarded the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for 2019. Members of the Jordan Education Foundation surprised the winners with the announcement, inviting them to a banquet at Little America to receive their award and $1,000 cash.

Five of the teachers honored were from West Jordan schools.

Copper Hills High School

Joshua Brothers, AP Language and Composition

Joshua Brothers was meant to be a teacher.

“I teach because I have to—I’m a teacher down in my heart,” he said.

Despite family members’ encouragement, he resisted before he finally taking a teaching position six years ago.

“That first day in the classroom, I had to think to myself, ‘This is what I’m meant to do.  I guess I’ve found my calling. I’m going to start working and throwing everything I’ve got into this,’” said Brothers. “It just turned out that this is what I was meant to do.”

His wife, KC, said when he talks about his day, it is obvious that he loves his job.

“He truly loves it,” she said. “He is invested in each and every one of his students.”

Brothers believes the real teaching takes place when he is connected with his students. 

“If I don’t care about them, then they’re not going to care about what I have to offer, and so that’s where I really need to dig in,” he said. “If they’re telling me that they love me back, well, then, I guess I’m doing something right.”

Brothers was touched when JEF board members and community leaders interrupted his class to announce the award.

“Anything I can, I want to give back to the community, and so it's a great honor to have them giving back to me,” said Brothers, who enjoys mentoring colleagues and community members. 

In the nomination application, one of his colleagues stated,

“Your students perform because they want to. You do not practice classroom management — you practice classroom leadership. Students know that you are their first line of defense when they encounter difficult circumstances. Many say their anxiety lowers when they come to your class. You are a student advocate and committed to teaching which results in growth and success.”

Brothers said he will be using the $1,000 cash award to prepare for the birth of his first child, due in this summer.

Sunset Ridge Middle School

Erin Clelland, Biology and Earth Science

Erin Clelland is not your ordinary science teacher. She incorporates music into the science curriculum.

“At the end of each standard she ’gets her drama on’ and performs a silly song to help remember key concepts,” said one of her nominators.

Clelland also enhances her students’ learning through her love of kayaking. She collects items she finds on her kayaking outings to show her students.

“Seeing these kids learn things and seeing students that come into the class thinking ‘I don’t want to be here’ and half-way in, they’re really grasping topics and finding out this world we live in is so exciting, that just means so much to me,” she said.

Clelland is the first teacher at SRMS to be honored with this award, which was announced during an assembly in front of her peers and students.

“Every time one of us is recognized, it uplifts all of us,” said Clelland. “I’m just one of the many teachers who go beyond what the absolute necessary is at this school.”

She loves teaching.

“I will teach until the day I die—I don’t think I’m going to be able to retire—so for them to say thank you, it's absolutely wonderful,” said Clelland. “But even if they didn’t, I’d keep doing this. I just love these kids.”

Clelland said the $1,000 cash award was a welcome surprise. It will be used to save a life. Her dog got into a bag of lab coats she brought home to launder after a heart and lungs lab and ate a surprising amount of nonfood items. 

“She was in surgery all day yesterday, so that’s where it's going—it's spent,” she said. 

Terra Linda Elementary

Anthony Martinez, Autistic Support K-6

Anthony Martinez has a caseload of 60 behavior students, most of them with autism.

One colleague said, “He not only keeps track of them but works alongside each classroom teacher to ensure each student’s success in and out of class. He talks calmly to students, never raising his voice when a student is dysregulated and then teaches the students skills to calm themselves. Many parents ask for Mr. Martinez to work with their child outside of school because they have seen the tremendous success he has with them because of the life changing example of care he demonstrates.”

Columbia Elementary

Katlyn Jarvis, Special Education K-6

Katlyn Jarvis has been called “the kid whisperer.” Colleagues say it is her soothing voice that can calm even the angriest child to be able to get to the root of their feelings.

One colleague said, “Katie builds loving, trusting relationships with her kids. The kids love her because they know that she genuinely understands them as a person.” 

Westland Elementary

Andrea Breitling, Kindergarten

Her nominator said, “Westland Elementary School benefits immeasurably from Mrs. Breitling’s teaching expertise, her genuine caring nature and her true joy of being with children. She makes our school a better place for her students and her peers. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award. She recognizes the individual student needs and is willing to think outside the box to help support them. Mrs. Breitling enriches her classroom and is a positive force at our school and in our community.”