A Shelley Elementary third-grade teacher from American Fork has been awarded one of six outstanding educator awards for the PTA's 2008 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Education. The Utah PTA Golden Apple Awards 2008 premieres on KUED-Channel 7 Wednesday, May 28, at 8 p.m. This special program features the awards ceremony, in combination with on-site footage shot at Shelley Elementary.
The PTA honored Ross Durrant, who was selected from numerous teacher nominees from nearly every school in Utah. Durrant's nominators, Kathy Hills, PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) president, and Kristie Gladfield, PTA secretary, describe him as a wonderful advocate and supporter of the PTSA.
"Mr. Durrant is the silent, unassuming, constant force in Shelley Elementary," explains his nominator. "The Fall Carnival is a huge annual PTA event at the school, requiring countless hours of work and many volunteers," says Gladfield, who describes Durrant as the "silent doer who takes the initiative to do what needs to be done without being asked to do so."
Teaching social studies and science to the entire third grade core of students at Shelley Elementary, Durrant says one of the children's favorite science projects is the butterfly tent, where students watch the metamorphosis of caterpillars to butterflies.
Shelley School Principal Cindy Davis said Durrant's skills and dedication as a master teacher extend far beyond his classroom. "He voluntarily runs an after-school math lab three days a week that provides support for striving learners in grades first through sixth. His students' test scores consistently show more than a year's growth in math."
His nominators say Durrant has a gift for remembering names - not just the names of his 156 students, but also the names of their parents and other family members, as well. They also applaud how he encourages his students to be better people. "Every year, on the last day of school before Christmas break, he hands each child an envelope containing a two-dollar bill and a note encouraging them to take the money and do something good for someone else for Christmas," said Gladfield.
When a former student of Durrant's was diagnosed with a brain tumor, he visited her in Primary Children's Hospital and every month thereafter in her home for 15 years until she passed away in 2005. "It has been said that we can't do great things in this life - we can only do small things with great love. Mr. Durrant does many seemingly small acts inside and outside his classroom that build greatness in the personal and academic lives of his students," Gladfield said, citing many examples.
Durrant believes that parents, teachers and students can all be exemplars, mentors, advocates and coaches. "My classroom motto suggests this to all who enter. A sign in my room reads: ‘We are friends to everyone and help each other achieve'."
PTA President Kathy Hills summed up Durrant's nomination by saying Durrant is the type of teacher that every school desires and every child deserves.
The Golden Apple Awards are funded in part by the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation, Utah Education Network, Educators Mutual Insurance Association., and the Utah Education Association.
The Utah PTA Golden Apple Awards 2008 premieres on KUED-Channel 7 Wednesday, May 28, at 8 p.m., repeating Sunday, June 1, at 6 p.m. Video clips and interviews with each award recipient can be seen on the KUED web site: http://www.kued.org/goldenapples
Golden Apple Award Recipient Ross Durrant
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