Grand County School District is continuing the tradition of honoring its exemplary teachers and staff for their longevity in service to education.
In 2020 the district recognized 24 employees for their longevity and four retiring employees. Together they have a collective 342 years in service to the Grand County School District.
The district’s annual awards ceremony was canceled this year due to Covid-19.
The following Grand County School District employees were recognized for five years of service: Kari Barnard, middle school English teacher; Lydia Barnes, custodian; Miranda Black, high school vice principal; Joshua Cameron, high school English teacher; Anna Conrad, transportation director; Melonie Dolphin, special education para-educator; Karena Gholson, preschool teacher; Natalie Grout, special education teacher; Jeri MacAdams, cafeteria custodian; Lisa Nelson, special education para-educator; Jana O’Marra, preschool para-educator; Alanna Simmons-Cameron, high school English and journalism teacher; Mikalyn Steinbrueck, first-grade teacher; Kelly Vagts, elementary mental health therapist.
For 10 years of service the district recognized kindergarten teacher Torrie Guerrero.
Five employees were recognized for 15 years of service: Jan Brown, special education para-educator; Buffy Camps, sixth-grade teacher; Megan McGee, Grand Area Mentoring coordinator; Daniel McNeil, Grand Area Mentoring director; and Laura Reed, high school science teacher.
Grand County High School Librarian Carol Stephenson was recognized for 40 years of service. Stephenson is the longest serving educator working at the Grand County School District.
The district honored its four retirees this year with flowers and awards. They are Kent Dalton, Stephen Hren, Belinda McKinnon and Libby Vaccaro.
Hren worked at the district for 31 years. He began teaching as a science and outdoor educator at Grand County High School, developing and leading various lesson plans including human biology to frog dissection. Hren was dedicated to raising student academic achievement and in 2007 he was promoted to principal at Grand County High School, a position he held until his retirement.
Dalton worked at the district for 13 years. He developed hands-on learning as the woodshop teacher for Grand County High School’s Career and Technical Education program. He also taught construction at USU-Moab for high school students and each year the class built a house in the community from start to finish.
He enjoyed teaching that allowed students to learn new skills as they claimed ownership of their projects through the entire build process. “When they started the project they really didn’t know the process, but when they finished it they could go back to the community and say, ‘I built that.’”
McKinnon worked at the district for 26 years. She moved to Moab in 1969 when she was a middle school student. After school, she began as a teaching assistant at the former Red Rock Elementary School building and became a certified first grade teacher, a position she greatly enjoyed for the rest of her years at the district. McKinnon said teaching kids to read was one of her favorite experiences as a teacher. “Watching them break the code to learn reading, they get pretty excited,” she said. “I love the kids. The age group is precious and they’re funny.”
Vaccaro worked at the district for 33 years. She started as a Special Education aid and eventually transferred to working as the secretary at the high school. She spent 13 years managing the high school’s finances as secretary. “I have loved working at the high school,” Vaccaro said. “The students, my colleagues, the parents, the community, I’ve loved it all and am so grateful for everyone who has been a part of this 33-year journey.”