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South Valley Riverton Journal

Outstanding teachers recognized

Jul 01, 2022 09:38AM ● By Jet Burnham

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Three Mountain Point Elementary teachers were recognized as outstanding teachers this year by three separate organizations.

Heidi Rivera was one of 27 teachers recognized by the Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce. The award was celebrated with a certificate, gifts, treats and a luncheon, which showed her that the community values educators.

“It was just an affirmation that what I do is important to the community that I serve in,” Rivera said.

Rivera loves her job. She’s been teaching kindergarteners for six years.

Mountain Point Principal Elizabeth Felt said Rivera is a “powerful resource in our building” and a “strong mentor.”

“She is one of those kinds of teachers that, regardless of what grade level you teach, you come and talk with Heidi,” Felt said.

Rivera helps other teachers, no matter what grade they teach, understand critical learning skills in a simple way. Felt said she is “like an evangelist”— when Rivera has success with a resource, product or strategy, she enthusiastically tells others about it.

“I think that teachers have the best job in the world and I want everyone to be as excited about this as I am,” Rivera said. “And so if there's something new that I find out, I want to share it with them and let them be as excited as I am.”

Bluffdale City Council identified seven Exemplary Teachers, including fourth grade teacher Crystal Hammer.

Hammer’s secret to being a great teacher is that she asks her students a question on the first day of school that sets the tone for the entire year.

“This gives my students the opportunity to have a say in how they want their year to go,” she said. “I believe when students have a voice and ownership in the classroom it builds trust quickly.”

Hammer builds relationships with her students and with her colleagues. Felt said Hammer, who has been teaching for nine years, has been a great mentor to practicum and student teachers.

 “She has been willing to step in and step up to helping those practicum teachers understand just a little bit of the ropes,” Felt said.

Hammer enjoys working with new teachers and inspiring them to love the teaching profession.

“I help them find a deeper passion for their future career,” Hammer said. “This, in turn, reignites my passion for teaching and I evolve at the same time.”

Hammer has also “brought in this ray of sunshine” to the Mountain Point staff by planning parties, baby showers, personalized gifts and fun activities to boost morale among colleagues.

“She does a great job at building people up and coming up with fun things for our faculty to do,” Felt said.

Gina Vondwingelo was selected as the Jordan Education Foundation Outstanding Teacher of the Year for Mountain Point Elementary.

Colleagues describe her as lively and engaging. She loves to use technology, creativity and humor in her fifth grade classroom.

“I have found that sometimes that little bit of laughter will often reduce the tension some can feel with new learning,” Vondwingelo said. “I also often overly gesture and have been known to use a very bad accent or to randomly break out in bad singing.”

Vondwingelo is a veteran teacher (16 years) who mentors both new and experienced teachers.

“She's one of the leaders in our building innovation and technology use,” Felt said. “She's usually one of the first teachers to implement an innovative teaching strategy.”

Colleague Melissa Monsen said Vondwingelo is dedicated to helping all her students succeed.

“She has the knowledge and resources to make learning meaningful and fun for the students,” Monsen said. “She is just a stellar teacher who gives everything she has to help students succeed.”

Felt said she trusts Vondwingelo to work with any student, regardless of their skill set or level of ability, because she is a dynamic teacher with an engaging and relatable teaching style.

Vondwingelo is the kind of teacher who is loved by students, parents and colleagues.

“She has built relationships that are long-standing and enduring,” Monsen said. “Giving her best is what she does every day.”


JEF Outstanding Educators

Foothills Elementary School - Amy Anderson

Midas Creek Elementary School - Dr. Cheryl Pribble

Mountain Point Elementary - Gina Vondwingelo

Rose Creek Elementary - Danielle Tuttle

Southland Elementary School - Lara Stout

Rosamond Elementary School - Seth Otteson

Riverton Elementary School - Lynette Jorgensen

Bluffdale Elementary School - Larissa Carla Rodrigues Collaco

South Hills Middle School - Nichole Valerio

Oquirrh Hills Middle School - Janae Rindlisbacher

Hidden Valley Middle School - Ryan Nielsen

Riverton High School - Raechel Bunnell

JATC South - Brenda Straley

Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary - Celena Ottley

Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle - Krista Gibbons

Kings Peak Virtual High - Kelli Malmberg


Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Teachers

Summit Academy Elementary - Toryn Coombs

Kauri Sue Hamilton School - Beau Burningham

Holy Trinity School - Jenn Kiel

North Star Academy - Emily Storye

JATC South - Brenda Straley

Foothills Elementary - Krista Cummings

Bluffdale Elementary - Janae Young

Mountain Point Elementary - Heidi Rivera

Riverton Elementary - Gina Nokes

Midas Creek Elementary - Dr. Cheryl Pribble

Butterfield Canyon Elementary - Cara Pool

Rose Creek Elementary - Angela Johnston

Oquirrh Hills Middle - Krystal DeJesus

South Hills Middle - Teri McIntyre

Hidden Valley Middle School - Heidi Peterson

Riverton High - Cindy Morrey


Bluffdale City’s Exemplary Teachers

Bluffdale Elementary - Kadee Oman

Summit Academy Independence Campus - Rose Webb

Summit Academy Bluffdale Campus - Elisabeth Kindmark

Mountain Point Elementary - Crystal Hammer

Hidden Valley Middle - Shannon McDonald

Summit Academy High - Marcus Dickson

Riverton High - Robyn Harris


Jordan Association of Elementary School Principals, Principal of the Year Awards

Rookie Principal of the Year: Garett York - Southland Elementary School

Student Advocate Principal of the Year: Courtney Titus - Kauri Sue Hamilton School