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When the Sedona Rotary Club put out a call to area school teachers to look among their peers and nominate candidates for the inaugural “Teacher of the Year” award, a long list of names came flooding in.
By Tyler Midkiff
Larson Newspapers

When the Sedona Rotary Club put out a call to area school teachers to look among their peers and nominate candidates for the inaugural “Teacher of the Year” award, a long list of names came flooding in.

“It was a tough race,” said Phil Reay, the Rotarian who created the award.

Narrowing down the nominees was more of a task than Reay expected, he said. Those chosen were the result of much discussion among the Rotary committee members charged with choosing the winners. Ultimately, it came down to four carefully-selected Sedona school teachers.

David Hoover, a coach and physical education teacher from West Sedona School, was the first to accept the award.

“I’m going to accept this today,” Hoover said, “but I feel that every one of the teachers at our school is deserving of this award. I just happen to be the one who got it this year.”

Hoover is always among the first to arrive and the last to leave the school everyday, according to WSS Principal Mary Kline. He’s collected so many trophies for the school’s athletic teams that the school needs to build a new trophy case to hold them all, she said.

“David [Hoover] is a friend, he’s a partner in the school, and we’re very fortunate to have him,” she said.

Kim Jackson, a first-grade teacher at Big Park Community School, was also awarded.

She first began working at BPCS as an intern from Northern Arizona University about 10 years ago, according to Principal Steve Gardner.

She lead an effort to give extra help to students struggling with their reading and she regularly offers input regarding the direction of the school, Gardner said.

When she learned she had been chosen to receive the award, “The first comment she made was, ‘Maybe I can use [the money] towards getting something for the classroom,”’ Gardner said.

Marsha Johnson, the principal educator for grades four through six at Sedona Charter School, stood to receive her award and a round of applause.

Johnson leads by example, Sedona Charter School Business Manager Alice Madar said. Johnson’s been active in getting the children out into the community for public service and she works hard to unify the school under one clear vision, Madar said.

Growing up as one of the older children in a large family, Johnson got started on her path to teaching early. She sort of lead the pack, she said. Years later, she couldn’t imagine anything she’d rather be doing with her life.

“It’s been my whole life’s path,” she said.

Geoffrey Worssam, an art teacher from Sedona Red Rock High School, was final teacher awarded by the Rotarians.

He’s taught in the Sedona School District for more than 20 years, but it’s not the quantity of time he spends with the students, it’s the quality, according to SRRHS Assistant Principal David Lykins.

“I feel good at our high school knowing that Mr. Worssam’s on our campus everyday,” Lykins said. “He makes those tough connections with kids.”

Whenever Lykins brings a tour through SRRHS, he always stops by Worssam’s class, he said.

“It feels great,” Worssam said after accepting the award. “I feel appreciated, and once again, it’s another example of how the community and the schools work together.”

According to Reay, the Sedona Rotary Club created the Teacher of the Year award to honor local teachers who go above and beyond their role in the classroom.

The teachers have a tremendous influence on Sedona’s children and they’re not acknowledged quite as much as they should be, he said.

“You guys are the unsung heroes in our community,” Reay said to the teachers. “We applaud what you guys do everyday.”

Each teacher received a plaque and $500.

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