Inclusivity, spirit, advocacy: PTA honors 7 women for helping their schools

Advocacy Award winner Julie Mizukawa, PTA president of Bloomington Hills Elementary, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of MarChe Hindes, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Each year, the PTA awards a number of what it says are outstanding individuals serving students and their families, as well as schools and educators. Normally, the winners would be honored at a Washington County School District board meeting, but that wasn’t the case this year due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

MarChe Hindes, Region 20 PTA director, told St. George News that current times have changed the way PTA members interact with students and parents, but they have found ways to adapt and stay connected.

“A lot of PTA’s are showing support to teachers and staff with chalk art, signs in yards, heart shaped notes taped to school windows, parades for retiring staff and cards or gift cards being donated,” she said.

PTA members have also worked closely with the school district and school administrations to make sure students are aware of free lunches and other available resources.

Outstanding School Educator Award winner Amy Read, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of MarChe Hindes, St. George News

2019-2020 PTA Winners

Amy Read, a representative on the PTA Board and teacher at Bloomington Hills Elementary, won the Outstanding School Educator Award.

Read has amazing ideas and comes to all the PTA meetings, Hindes said.

“She knows the school, students and staff and is very helpful when the PTA plans year to year to meet the needs of the school. Read helps with a lot of school activities like the Color Run, book club, Moms and Muffins, Dads and Donuts and the reading program. She is also the assistant choir conductor and heads up the student government.”

Outstanding Support Staff Award winner Holly Humphries, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of MarChe Hindes, St. George News

Holly Humphries, a paraprofessional educator at Sandstone Elementary, won the Outstanding Support Staff Award.

“Holly is diligent, reliable and consistent and quickly became one of the lead paraprofessional because of this,” Hindes said. “She enjoys helping the children build a foundation as they grow and learn principles in reading and writing.”

Julie Mizukawa, president of the Bloomington Hills Elementary school PTA, won the Advocacy Award. This award is given to a local PTA or individual for excellence in their efforts to support and speak on behalf of the youth.

This year, Mizukawa and the Bloomington Hills Elementary PTA recognized that one of the main roads, Bloomington Hills Drive, was in need of improvement. The road has no sidewalks and the shoulder is very narrow. Many elementary, middle and high school students use this road to walk or ride their bikes to school because they do not live within bus routes.

By bringing this need to the attention of the principal, community council, superintendent, city council members and the mayor, Mizukawa and PTA members were successful in getting the roadwork approved for improvement.

Mizukawa told St. George News that once they brought the problem to the attention of others, the issue was immediately recognized.

“They said, ‘We will write this up. We’ll put it in the budget.’ And they did – they approved it,” she said. “It just needed to be brought to their attention in a respectful way.”

Outstanding School Administrator Award winner Teria Mortensen, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of MarChe Hindes, St. George News

Teria Mortensen, who works with Legacy Elementary, won the Outstanding School Administrator Award.

“Mortensen leads with love,” Hindes said. “She loves our students, our teachers and staff. She provides support, encouragement and training. She sets the tone for our school and we have had state education representatives remark the Legacy Elementary doesn’t feel like a Title 1 school. The kids are generally happy and enjoy learning.”

Tanya Merrill, who works with Legacy Elementary, won the Outstanding Volunteer Award, an award that recognizes an exceptional volunteer who is making a positive difference. In addition to her professionalism and ability to work well with local businesses, Merrill also implemented a Dine2Donate restaurant fundraiser.

Outstanding Volunteer Award winner Tanya Merril, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of MarChe Hindes, St. George News

“Tanya Merrill is someone everyone needs on their team,” Hindes said. “She is smart and her follow through is unmatched. She is always one of the first to volunteer to be on a committee, make and distribute flyers, compile packets, sell shirts, organize rewards and volunteer in the classroom.”

Brittney Taylor, who works with Legacy Elementary, won the Spirit of PTA Award.

“Positive. Caring. Dedicated. Artist. Funny. Friend. Cheerleader. Trustworthy. Diligent. Reliable. Really, there aren’t enough right words to describe Brittney Taylor,” Hindes said. “In 2017, Brittany was virtually running all of the PTA. She ran reflections, red ribbon week, yearbook, Dixie Direct fundraiser, teacher appreciation week and so on. Now she continues to happily engage in all things PTA. She is a big personality that exudes positivity and friendship.”

Angela Camargo, who works as an English as a second language aide at Panorama Elementary, won the Spirit of Inclusivity Award. This award recognizes a PTA member who has organized an inclusivity event/activity using the PTA National Standards for Family School Partnerships.

Spirit of PTA Award winner Brittney Taylor, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of MarChe Hindes, St. George News

Panorama has a large Hispanic population. Camargo was asked at the beginning of the year to help bridge the gap in the PTA between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking parents. One of the ways Camargo did this was in suggestions she made for the annual Harvest Hop Dance Celebration.

Every October, each grade prepares a dance to perform and PTA takes this opportunity to sell food for the event and raise funds. Hindes said Camargo approached the PTA board about including Hispanic parents in making some traditional Mexican street tacos to sell at the event, which led the PTA to adopt a cultural celebration theme and each grade chose a different culture to represent through dance.

“The night of the event, Angela worked as a translator between the English and Spanish-speaking parents in the food tent with little confusion. This year, we have had more parent involvement from this demographic than ever before and it is attributed, in most part, to Angela and her dedication to our school and the families of our school.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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