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Holladay Journal

Cottonwood High and Driggs Elementary teachers win Excel Awards

Apr 30, 2022 10:58AM ● By Heather Lawrence

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

English teacher Kathy Hess of Cottonwood High and second-grade teacher Heidi Baer at Howard R. Driggs Elementary have reason to celebrate: they are two of the 10 teachers who earned Excel Teaching Awards in March.

District administrators including superintendent Richard Nye and Granite Education Foundation’s Interim Director Jadee Talbot loaded “the fun bus” and went school to school to deliver the news in person.

“Our very own Heidi Baer was one of [the] recipients… of an Excel Award from the Granite Education Foundation!” wrote Driggs Elementary principal Benjamin Peters on the school’s website.

Baer was surprised with her award during class and joined by some family members. Her second graders clapped as she was given flowers, balloons and a large “congratulations!” poster.

Over at Cottonwood High, Hess was also surprised during class. Her principal Terri Roylance said that Hess is an outstanding educator.

“She knows the curriculum and delivers it in a way that her students are engaged throughout the class period. She is truly a master teacher!” Roylance said.

Hess’s colleague Lauren Merkley won the Excel Award and Teacher of the Year in 2019. 

“I have the privilege of sharing a wall with Kathy Hess, which means that I get to witness her compassion, creativity and resilience as an educator every day,” Merkley said.

Merkley sees Hess meet students “where they are at.” 

“Through her love and inventive teaching, she ushers them to be their best selves. She is a beacon of goodness and passion in our department, and we feel so lucky to have her!”

The Excel Award is the top honor for Granite District educators given by the Granite Education Foundation. They are chosen through a nomination process that starts late in the fall. Winners get $1,000 and are considered for Teacher of the Year.

“Congratulations to all our Excel Award Winners,” Nye said. “We couldn’t do it without you; we appreciate all you do.”