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Church honors local educators

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints honors teachers for service to youth, community

Posted: March 27, 2009 8:49 p.m.
Updated: March 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.

"Whether it's been on those hot summer days in summer school or waking up at 6 a.m. for a review session, the journey has been unforgettable with Mr. Del Rio, and this is not just flowery rhetoric," said Saugus High School student David Hughes.

"To change one's life is to change one's world," Hughes continued. "Mr. Del Rio inspired me to change mine."

Hughes was reading a statement he prepared honoring Del Rio, one of 19 teachers recognized before about 200 attendees last Saturday evening at A Beacon to the Future - A Tribute to Teachers hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The Santa Clarita Stake Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints hosted the event, which was free and open to the public, and praised educators from Hart, Valencia, Golden Valley and Saugus high schools as well as teachers from College of the Canyons and private tutors.

The students were as much a part of the ceremony as the teachers, since each student introduced his or her own nominee with a short blurb of a special shared student-teacher experience.

"We ask our young high schoolers to pick a teacher who was influential in their life," said Melanie Dvorak, Stake's director of public affairs. "Then we inform each nomination and send them an invitation to our event."

Every teacher nominated by a student received recognition, and Assemblyman Cameron Smyth and Councilman Bob Kellar were in attendance as keynote speakers.

Smyth, who grew up in the valley and at one point served as superintendent for the Hart District, understands the importance of teachers and their impact on students.

Smyth, in addition to acknowledging the hard work educators put in day in and day out, also acknowledged special events like this one put on by the community.

Dvorak said she was impressed a local assemblyman took time out of a busy congressional schedule to attend a local tribute to teachers.

She said Kellar talked about how everyone fits the role of a teacher throughout life. He also spoke of how Santa Clarita is a special place because it is so family oriented.

"I will never forget Mrs. Lopez's loving nature and the care that she shows to every one of her students," Christine Lindberg said about Hart High teacher Karen Lopez.

Holly Black from Valencia High honored Sue Peterson.

"Mrs. Peterson is an upbeat, positive person. She's just very fun to be around," she said.

Elizabeth Lindberg honored her piano teacher Jeanne Jordan.

"Ms. Jeanne is such a great, caring and nice person. She teaches me what I love to do, play the piano," Lindberg said. "Thursday is my favorite day of the week because it is piano day. When I get to my piano lesson it is a getaway from school. Before I even start my lesson, Ms. Jeanne asks me how I am doing and listens patiently and intently."

The honorees included: Patricia Stephenson, Joe Walker, David Stradling, John Albert, Linda Clark, Vilo Del Rio and April Dooley from Saugus High School; Vicki Goodwin, Melissa Palmer and Dave Harris from Canyon High School; Robert Fisher from Golden Valley High School; Deborah Gear from College of the Canyons; Karen Lopez from Hart High School; Sue Peterson from Valencia High School; Sylvia Wortman from Mitchell Elementary School; Janet Thompson, a private tutor; Jeanne Jordan, a piano teacher; Patty Padovich and Stephen Snow, a Sunday School teacher and Seminary teacher at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints respectively.
Canyon High School's Madrigal Singers provided entertainment for the event as well as two sisters from the congregation, Christine and Elizabeth Lindberg, who played a duet on the piano.

"Each teacher received a certificate from the Smyth's office and from the state," Dvorak said. "I think it's important to the teenagers to have the opportunity to express their gratitude to the people in their life and their service."

She said they also received a typed-up version of the shard-student experience and a pin with TLC 2009 engraved on it - for teaching, leading and challenging.


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