Hillside Elementary 3rd grade teacher Archer Birrell brings his bearded dragon Link along with him to faculty meetings and school activities.
His love for the class pet is one of the many quirks his colleagues and students admire. But it’s his genuine dedication to the profession that sets him apart.
This became apparent to Hillside principal Sharon Sonnenreich one day as she watched from afar as Mr. Birrell calmed the fears of a student who had experienced a frightening situation.
“He got down on his knees as he put one sideways-hug arm around (the student) and he said, ‘I love you with my life. There is no reason to be scared. I will always be here.’ And that kid just transformed from being terrified to just going on with (their) day, and that really embodies Archer to me,” Sonnenreich said.
Mr. Birrell was named the 2018 Granite School District Teacher of the Year during a special surprise assembly. He was awarded with gas gift cards from Chevron, a free iPad from Granite Credit Union, a free round trip flight from JetBlue, and free tickets to a Utah Grizzlies hockey game to go along with his new title.
Granite School District was always the place Mr. Birrell envisioned helping students achieve their dreams.
“When I was at UVU and applying for an internship, there were only six positions available with Granite. I knew I had to get one of the six spots. Granite School District just felt right and this is where I wanted to be,” he said. “I promised 110 percent if hired and I have kept my commitment to this promise. Granite is my home and family and I feel so blessed and grateful to be here.”