Salt Lake City School District and Board of Education Announce Teacher of the Year and Special Education Teacher of the Year
(Salt Lake City) – The Salt Lake City School District and the Salt Lake City Board of Education are proud to announce Leigh VandenAkker as the 2012 District Teacher of the Year and Lori Kopasz as the 2012 District Special Education Teacher of the Year.
VandenAkker teaches a unique class at East High School titled Techniques for Tough Times. She developed the curriculum for this class, and East High Principal Paul Sagers credits VandenAkker and this class for reducing anti-social behaviors among students school-wide. Her remarkable abilities, especially her expertise for helping troubled students, have been recognized locally and nationally. VandenAkker is known for going above and beyond the call of duty, for her impeccable work ethic, and for her dedication to serving others. VandenAkker has also been named as a finalist for the 2012 Utah Teacher of Year.
Kopasz is a special education teacher at Highland High School. Principal Paul Schulte nominated Kopasz for the award and said she is one of the most inspiring teachers he has associated with in his 27 years in education. Kopasz was selected because she encourages and inspires students with disabilities of all backgrounds and with unique educational needs to learn and meet their personal goals. She actively advocates for students with disabilities to participate in school and community activities, and she has earned the respect of students, parents, staff and colleagues.
Both VadenAkker and Kopasz were selected after a rigorous screening and interview process. A committee of Salt Lake Education Foundation members, district employees, and community representatives made the selections. Both teachers were recognized and honored during the Salt Lake City Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, August 2, 2011. VandenAkker received $2,000 from the Salt Lake Education Foundation. In some school districts, special education teachers are not recognized separately, but thanks to an anonymous donor, Kopasz also received a check for $1,000.
pictured from left to right: Susan Van Horne, Michael Williams, and Leigh VandenAkker