Our very own Lauren Merkley has been named the 2020 Utah Teacher of the Year by state superintendent Syd Dickson.
Merkley, an English teacher at Cottonwood High School, was announced as the state winner during the Teacher of the Year banquet honoring the top teachers from school districts and charter schools throughout Utah. She was among five finalists chosen by a state level awards committee.
“I’m shaking,” she said as she approached the podium to deliver her acceptance speech.
Merkley has dedicated her professional career to focusing on the student as an individual. She is always assessing where her students are academically while taking into account the challenges of their personal lives.
“Seeing them grow or learn or realize something about themselves is magic, and seeing that magic happen and feeling like I was some small component of this magical moment is something I can live off for weeks,” she said.
It was Merkley’s own English teacher and neighbor that helped kindle her passion for stories and narratives. Even though she began her professional career as a fundraiser, she always wanted to find her way to the classroom.
“The challenge has surprised me, but I also think that’s been one of the delights, and one of the things that makes it so endlessly interesting is that there’s constantly new challenges ahead.”
Merkley will now be considered for the National Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced in the spring.