Positive attitudes, fun lessons, and never giving up on their students are common denominators for remarkable teachers of all grade levels in the Humboldt Unified School District.
The Rotary Club of Prescott Valley honored 10 teachers from each school site and the Special Education Department on April 19 at a dinner at Stoneridge. It selected Liberty Traditional School teacher Viola Jensen as its top Teacher of the Year winner.
Sarah Todd's nomination letter about Jensen described her seventh-grade teacher as a "great, patient, and helpful math teacher." Sarah said she was failing algebra until Jensen offered to tutor her every morning before school.
"I am sure Mrs. Jensen will always stand out in my mind when I think about math because she has been there for me when I needed so much help," Sarah said.
Larry Haese, Bradshaw Mountain High School's Rotary Teacher of the Year, said teachers at the high school have reaped the benefit of the wonderful teachers at the elementary and middle schools.
His student, Ryan Madler, said the Social Studies teacher, has a "warm, humorous attitude."
"He definitely does his homework," Ryan said, adding that Haese also quickly returns students' graded homework.
Science teacher Chris Dalpiaz at Glassford Hill Middle School is "the bomb," according to student Naomi Sexton.
"Students don't usually say that about their teachers," Naomi said. She was a "barely passing" student who never liked science when she took Dalpiaz's class.
"He makes his lessons comic with jokes, riddles and pictures," she said. "Now every day that I walk into science class, I'm ready to learn."
Emily Grugel nominated Marianne Stoll, Language Arts teacher at Bradshaw Mountain Middle School. Stoll has taught at the middle school level for 18 years, loves her students and calls them "unique creatures."
"You know how they say learning is fun? It depends on the teacher," Emily said. "I love Ms. Stoll to death, and I'm glad she won the award."
Julie Renfroe earned Teacher of the Year from Mountain View Elementary School because she is "kindhearted, funny and intelligent at the same time," said her student, sixth-grader Odalys Guerra.
Odalys also said her teacher never gives up on what she believes, and "never, ever bails out on you."
Kaylin Smith wrote a three-page letter nominating her sixth-grade teacher, Jennifer Mraz, at Lake Valley Elementary School. Kaylin said, "She has all kinds of learning games to make learning fun ... she always believes in your abilities ... every time you walk into her classroom, she is smiling."
"She'll discipline, but is fair with it, and makes sure to see all points of view," Kaylin added.
Tracy Greenhow, third-grade teacher at Humboldt Elementary School, earned a nomination from Caitlynn Neal, who is "the luckiest girl on earth because I have the best teacher."
Caitlynn said Greenhow teaches schoolwork and also about life, and has a hug for her students every morning.
"She keeps teaching us until we learn it in a way we understand," the student said.
Elaine Lickteig at Granville Elementary School apparently "is the ONLY teacher in fourth-grade with her own art supplies," said nominating student Chase Torp. Chase said he has learned many formulas, and division, addition and multiplication this year with Lickteig.
"She always makes the day happy and teaches with a smile," he said.
Sheanna Llewellyn stood up with her teacher Peggy Spencer-Coen, and explained her nomination through a Talker, a speaking device.
"Mrs. Peggy is awesome," Sheanna said, thanking her Special Ed teacher at Glassford Hill Middle School for giving her the chance to learn. "I will miss her when I go to high school."
Rotary President Jim Clemens said next year the Teacher of the Year awards would expand to include charter schools in the area. He thanked Credit Union West for honoring each teacher with $100, and Prescott Valley Florists for discounting and delivering the table flower arrangements that went home with each teacher.