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Davis Journal

Veteran educator receives WGU Elevate Award

Feb 09, 2023 12:53PM ● By Becky Ginos

FARMINGTON—Davis School District Elementary Mentor Supervisor Allison Riddle was surprised by Western Governors University (WGU) at the district offices with the online school’s Elevate Award for her exceptional work supporting educators and giving them the opportunity to excel in a teaching career.

The WGU Elevate Award is given to individuals who are committed to providing career development and high-quality educational opportunities for others. 

“We’re delighted to honor Allison in this way,” said Ismar Vallecillos, WGU’s director of operations for Utah and the Northwest region. “Strong communities – in Davis and across Utah – begin with our K-12 classrooms and great teachers help lay the foundation for long-term success for young learners. Allison has built her career around those principles and richly deserves the WGU Elevate Award.”

“This is the third year we’ve been partnering with WGU,” said Riddle, who was humbled by the recognition. “We have a teacher academy at two elementary schools, South Clearfield and Sunburst. It’s a way of hosting university practicum students in the middle of their studies who are working on becoming an elementary teacher.”

WGU has been very generous with their support, she said. “They’ve committed 15 full-ride scholarships to help those students who would never be able to take that path and make their dream come true.”

They’re pulling from within with a focus on diverse backgrounds, said Riddle. “Kids need to see teachers who look like them. WGU is interested in increasing diversity.”

Those 15 scholarship students work as teaching assistants in the Earn & Learn program 10 hours a week and receive full tuition support while completing WGU coursework, she said. “They are so much better prepared. We guide each one of the students who have a teacher mentor that is top notch. They’re just a joy to work with.”

Raising kids and working while trying to get a bachelor’s degree – that’s hard, Riddle said. “The Learn & Earn program helps them get that bachelor’s degree they thought that they never could – that is so powerful.”

It’s an incredibly unique opportunity for paraprofessionals to get that chance to work at a school, she said. “They can do their practice lessons in school and ask questions of their mentor teachers.”

The mentor teachers are so excited to have their own impact on these students, she said. “Veteran teachers are recognizing the need to go deeper into their practices and model and guide these university students.”

Teaching is a very flat occupation, said Riddle. “There are few advancements. This gives mentors a chance to model their practices in a unique way with the learning aides and grow together. So many invested hands in the classroom benefits students the most.”

Riddle said they can’t have recruitment without retention. “We’re digging deep and doing what we can from within to train the best teachers at our schools and then collect them later.”

The legislature passed HB215 this session that gives teachers a raise but is also tied to money for nonpublic schools. “There’s no question that all teachers are grateful for a pay raise,” said Riddle. “It’s just unfortunate that it couldn’t have been by itself. The bill would have been accepted and received in a deeper way instead of a different issue riding on its coattails. I hope HB215 won’t cause us damage so that teachers lose pride in what they do.”

Teachers change lives, she said. “I hope legislators and all leaders continue to honor the profession that makes the community safer. If teaching wasn’t wonderful we wouldn’t do this. We’re doing the work.”