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The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) recently named debate teacher Mike Shackelford the 2019 Speech Educator of the Year—a Distinguished Service Award given primarily for Mike’s work strengthening debate programs not just here at Rowland Hall, but across Utah.

I'm grateful that my job allows me the opportunity to get involved in the larger debate community and make a difference for more kids in the state.—Debate Coach Mike Shackelford

“I'm grateful that my job allows me the opportunity to get involved in the larger debate community and make a difference for more kids in the state,” Mike said. “My mentors—Ryan Hoglund, especially—taught me the importance of giving back early in my career.” Ryan, our former debate coach and current director of ethical education, won this service award in 2007. 

Mike explained that school activities like debate depend on countless acts of service, from volunteer judges to late-night transportation and beyond. “Everyone is working so hard that it seems selfish not to do my part,” he said. “I also love matching the passion and work ethic that my students put into the activity.”

Match, he has. Since he joined Rowland Hall in 2007, Mike has taken on an array of leadership roles and accumulated several prestigious awards:

  • Utah Debate Coaches Association (UDCA) Chair of the Elementary and Middle School Division (2017–present)
  • UDCA Chair of the Novice Policy Committee (2016–present)
  • National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) State Educator of the Year for Utah (2017–2018)
  • NSDA National District Chair of the Year (2016)
  • UDCA Policy Debate Coach of the Year (2014)
  • National Debate Coaches Association Executive Board (2013–2015)
  • NSDA Chair of the Great Salt Lake District (2011–2016)
  • UHSAA Speech and Debate Representative (2009–2015)

Rowland Hall Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic nominated Mike for the award and confirmed his dedication to debate. “Mike’s classes are full of enthusiastic debaters who feed off his energy and knowledge,” Kendra wrote in her recommendation letter. “He loves working with students in a competitive environment and it shows.”

For the Shackelfords, debate—and the friendly competition thereof—is a way of life: Mike's wife, Carol, won this award six years ago while coaching for Bingham High School. "Now I'm even with her, which feels great," Mike joked.

Mike is the eighth Rowland Hall employee to receive one of these awards.

The UHSAA started their Distinguished Service Awards program in 1987 to honor individuals for their contributions to high school activities. Mike is one of 17 Utahns to be honored this year, and he’s the eighth Rowland Hall employee on record to receive one of these awards. View a list of past recipients in our article on band director and music teacher Dr. Bret Jackson, UHSAA’s 2018 Music Educator of the Year.

Debate

Debate Coach Mike Shackelford Named Speech Educator of the Year for Utah

The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) recently named debate teacher Mike Shackelford the 2019 Speech Educator of the Year—a Distinguished Service Award given primarily for Mike’s work strengthening debate programs not just here at Rowland Hall, but across Utah.

I'm grateful that my job allows me the opportunity to get involved in the larger debate community and make a difference for more kids in the state.—Debate Coach Mike Shackelford

“I'm grateful that my job allows me the opportunity to get involved in the larger debate community and make a difference for more kids in the state,” Mike said. “My mentors—Ryan Hoglund, especially—taught me the importance of giving back early in my career.” Ryan, our former debate coach and current director of ethical education, won this service award in 2007. 

Mike explained that school activities like debate depend on countless acts of service, from volunteer judges to late-night transportation and beyond. “Everyone is working so hard that it seems selfish not to do my part,” he said. “I also love matching the passion and work ethic that my students put into the activity.”

Match, he has. Since he joined Rowland Hall in 2007, Mike has taken on an array of leadership roles and accumulated several prestigious awards:

  • Utah Debate Coaches Association (UDCA) Chair of the Elementary and Middle School Division (2017–present)
  • UDCA Chair of the Novice Policy Committee (2016–present)
  • National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) State Educator of the Year for Utah (2017–2018)
  • NSDA National District Chair of the Year (2016)
  • UDCA Policy Debate Coach of the Year (2014)
  • National Debate Coaches Association Executive Board (2013–2015)
  • NSDA Chair of the Great Salt Lake District (2011–2016)
  • UHSAA Speech and Debate Representative (2009–2015)

Rowland Hall Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic nominated Mike for the award and confirmed his dedication to debate. “Mike’s classes are full of enthusiastic debaters who feed off his energy and knowledge,” Kendra wrote in her recommendation letter. “He loves working with students in a competitive environment and it shows.”

For the Shackelfords, debate—and the friendly competition thereof—is a way of life: Mike's wife, Carol, won this award six years ago while coaching for Bingham High School. "Now I'm even with her, which feels great," Mike joked.

Mike is the eighth Rowland Hall employee to receive one of these awards.

The UHSAA started their Distinguished Service Awards program in 1987 to honor individuals for their contributions to high school activities. Mike is one of 17 Utahns to be honored this year, and he’s the eighth Rowland Hall employee on record to receive one of these awards. View a list of past recipients in our article on band director and music teacher Dr. Bret Jackson, UHSAA’s 2018 Music Educator of the Year.

Debate

Explore More Faculty Stories

Student leans on lockers in hallway.

After several years of success in the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing (AiC) awards program, 2020 marks Rowland Hall’s winningest year yet—the capstone of which is our first national winner, junior Katy Dark.

Katy is one of 40 high schoolers tapped from a pool of 4,700 applicants to receive the highest AiC honor this year. She and the other winners will receive cash, prizes, and a trip to the Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, to celebrate and network in early March.

“I’m ecstatic that I’ve gotten the privilege to win the national award,” Katy said, adding the recognition for pursuing her passion has left her stunned. Katy has applied for the AiC awards three times; in 2019, she won an honorable mention from the NCWIT Northern Utah Affiliate.

In addition to Katy’s national win, the NCWIT Northern Utah Affiliate gave senior Ellie Nichols and juniors Maddy Eatchel and Yuchen Yang AiC honorable mentions. Teacher and alum Ben Smith ’89 earned the Educator Award.

In addition to Katy’s distinction, our local affiliate gave senior Ellie Nichols and juniors Maddy Eatchel and Yuchen Yang AiC honorable mentions. And after an honorable mention last year, computer science (CS) teacher and alumnus Ben Smith ’89 secured our affiliate’s Educator Award for his steadfast support of young women in computing.

NCWIT’s Award for AiC honors women, genderqueer, or non-binary high schoolers for their computing-related achievements and interests. Winners are picked for their aptitude and aspirations in tech and CS—as demonstrated by their computing and leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access, and plans for college.

Not only is Katy committed to pursuing a computing career, she’s already using her knack for the subject to make a difference in her community. She’s been teaching coding to students—primary at-risk Latinx youth—at Salt Lake City’s Dual Immersion Academy since the school lost funding for CS in 2018. Read our story on her President’s Volunteer Service Award. Now, Katy hopes to make her program permanent through a combination of grants and fundraising.

“I’m honored to have Katy as one of my students,” Ben said. “She is deserving of the NCWIT national award because she has taken her interest in and passion for technology, cybersecurity, coding, and computer science and found ways to bring that passion to students who would not ordinarily have the opportunities that she has had. She is selfless and dedicated to making the world a better place.”

Ben started encouraging his students to enter the AiC awards in 2014. Since then, 13 Winged Lions have earned a collective 18 awards, including one win and two honorable mentions at the national level. On top of that, Ben won two educator honors at the affiliate level. Under Ben’s leadership, Rowland Hall has been committed to ensuring all students—especially young women, who are underrepresented in computing careers—feel welcomed and supported in CS. That effort shows in our classes: in January, Rowland Hall earned the College Board's 2019 Advanced Placement (AP) CS Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in our AP CS Principles class. Out of 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 818 won the award. We're one of only two in Utah.

stem

teacher talking to students in class

The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) recently named debate teacher Mike Shackelford the 2019 Speech Educator of the Year—a Distinguished Service Award given primarily for Mike’s work strengthening debate programs not just here at Rowland Hall, but across Utah.

I'm grateful that my job allows me the opportunity to get involved in the larger debate community and make a difference for more kids in the state.—Debate Coach Mike Shackelford

“I'm grateful that my job allows me the opportunity to get involved in the larger debate community and make a difference for more kids in the state,” Mike said. “My mentors—Ryan Hoglund, especially—taught me the importance of giving back early in my career.” Ryan, our former debate coach and current director of ethical education, won this service award in 2007. 

Mike explained that school activities like debate depend on countless acts of service, from volunteer judges to late-night transportation and beyond. “Everyone is working so hard that it seems selfish not to do my part,” he said. “I also love matching the passion and work ethic that my students put into the activity.”

Match, he has. Since he joined Rowland Hall in 2007, Mike has taken on an array of leadership roles and accumulated several prestigious awards:

  • Utah Debate Coaches Association (UDCA) Chair of the Elementary and Middle School Division (2017–present)
  • UDCA Chair of the Novice Policy Committee (2016–present)
  • National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) State Educator of the Year for Utah (2017–2018)
  • NSDA National District Chair of the Year (2016)
  • UDCA Policy Debate Coach of the Year (2014)
  • National Debate Coaches Association Executive Board (2013–2015)
  • NSDA Chair of the Great Salt Lake District (2011–2016)
  • UHSAA Speech and Debate Representative (2009–2015)

Rowland Hall Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic nominated Mike for the award and confirmed his dedication to debate. “Mike’s classes are full of enthusiastic debaters who feed off his energy and knowledge,” Kendra wrote in her recommendation letter. “He loves working with students in a competitive environment and it shows.”

For the Shackelfords, debate—and the friendly competition thereof—is a way of life: Mike's wife, Carol, won this award six years ago while coaching for Bingham High School. "Now I'm even with her, which feels great," Mike joked.

Mike is the eighth Rowland Hall employee to receive one of these awards.

The UHSAA started their Distinguished Service Awards program in 1987 to honor individuals for their contributions to high school activities. Mike is one of 17 Utahns to be honored this year, and he’s the eighth Rowland Hall employee on record to receive one of these awards. View a list of past recipients in our article on band director and music teacher Dr. Bret Jackson, UHSAA’s 2018 Music Educator of the Year.

Debate

2019 Cary Jones and Sumner Family Faculty Awards

Each year at division commencement ceremonies, Rowland Hall proudly honors faculty who have demonstrated exceptional teaching and mentoring

Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award 2019

The Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award is presented to one faculty member at Rowland Hall each year who demonstrates excellence in teaching, serves as a mentor to others, and contributes to the Rowland Hall community. This award was established through an anonymous gift to the school in honor of Mr. Jones' dedication to the faculty when he was a trustee and chair of the Board of Trustees.

Fifth-grade teacher Sarah Button is a beloved teacher in the Lower School. Her charming rapport with her students is long lasting, and her love for each student is evident. She understands best practices for delivering a meaningful, engaging, and joyful curriculum and her students show her the utmost respect.

Sarah contributes to our community in many ways. She has been instrumental in implementing our Strategic Plan and understands the importance of each of its components. She has been invaluable in her role as ombudsperson. This year, she partnered with two other colleagues as they led our faculty on a one-year journey through the book Onward, which focuses on cultivating emotional resilience in educators.

Rowland Hall proudly honors Sarah Button with the Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award.

Sumner Family Faculty Awards

The Sumner Family Faculty Award is given each year to an outstanding faculty member in each division who has demonstrated a love for teaching and excellence in their field. The award symbolizes the Sumner family's high regard for Rowland Hall's faculty. Congratulations to the following 2018–2019 recipients.

Beginning School: Camilla Rosenberger, 3PreK teacher

Camilla is a committed, joyful team member whose love and admiration for Rowland Hall's youngest learners shines through her smiles and conversations with them. She is a comforting presence to these small people in their difficult moments, and she encourages them to stretch themselves and be their best—artfully adapting her teaching to each learner. She is a wonderful colleague: her insightful—sometimes delightfully subversive—wit is a treat, and her infectious laugh can be heard down the hallway. She works hard to be the teacher her students need, learning all the time from colleagues, summer reads, podcasts, conferences, and more, always reflecting on how she could be more effective.

Lower School: Dave Sidlow, second-grade teacher

Dave's coworkers describe him as calm, collaborative, and supportive. Always open to new ideas, Dave engages in a collegial team relationship and is a great listener. In the classroom, students benefit from his natural enthusiasm and joyful sense of humor. His classroom environment is inclusive, safe, and inviting place where students feel free to share opinions and make mistakes. He respects and honors each of his students as individual learners. He does an excellent job of keeping students excited and engaged. In return, it's clear that his students will do almost anything for him.

Middle School: Allison Spehar, co-director of dance, musical theater teacher, and director of community programs

Modeling what it means to be a lifelong learner, Allison Spehar has embraced every opportunity to grow—from joining professional-learning communities, to taking online courses, to attending and presenting at conferences. Allison's influence extends beyond the Middle School, working with faculty, staff, students, and families in all divisions on our equity and inclusion initiatives. She is a leader in this work within the wider independent school community as well, sitting on the planning committee for the annual People of Color Conference. Allison is a student-centered educator and has been a key part of the continued development of the advisory and community programs in the Middle School. Whether interacting with advisory groups, supporting students in the Arts and Ensemble program, working backstage or in the sound booth during a performance, or choreographing and writing scripts for this year's phenomenal Imagining Alice performance, her passion for creating meaningful connections with students is apparent. Allison's boundless energy is only matched by her dedication and commitment to our students and her craft as a student-centered, dynamic teacher.

Upper School: Lauren Carpenter, health teacher

Lauren Carpenter has taught and coached thousands of Rowland Hall students throughout her career. Lauren is a tour-de-force department of one, designing and teaching Rowland Hall's signature health and wellness curriculum for three decades, steering students through the essential learnings of adolescence and growing into adulthood with authority, creativity, openness, and sensitivity. One colleague said: "Lauren is unflappable. She approaches things with a positive mindset and a desire to create a warm, trusting, safe classroom environment." And another: "I have so much respect for the kind of honest conversations she manages with our students, and the tools and knowledge she gives them to be responsible for their own well-being, to respect and even protect others."

Respected and appreciated by her colleagues, a true friend to many, Lauren represents the best in education and the best of Rowland Hall: a caring, kind, inquisitive, articulate, creative teacher and lifelong learner.

People

Teacher speaking at graduation ceremony.

Jeanne Zeigler, Lower School teacher, retires after 38 years of dedicated service. She began her Rowland Hall career in 1981 as a kindergarten aide who also oversaw the Extended Day Program. Since then, she’s taught in first, second, and third grade; implemented and worked as the lead mentor in a teacher-mentoring program; served as an ombudsperson; and won the Sumner Award (1994) and the Jones Award (2009). During her tenure, Jeanne was a caring teacher to countless students; a rich, knowledgeable resource for Lower School families; and a dependable friend to her colleagues. She’ll remain connected to Rowland Hall, serving our school and lending her lens as a member of Rowland Hall’s Board of Trustees. “I am so fortunate to have had an occupation that has made me feel so fulfilled,” Jeanne said. “Not everyone is this lucky, and I'm very grateful for it.” Read Jeanne’s retirement story.

Carol Frymire, assistant to the director of technology, retires after three decades and myriad titles at Rowland Hall. In addition to her last role here, she has previously worked as a receptionist, assistant to the head of school, owner’s representative for the McCarthey Campus construction project, alumni director, student-billing manager, auction director and assistant, and database manager. Countless Rowland Hall community members have appreciated and benefitted from Carol’s customer-service skills and her desire to always go the extra mile. Carol and husband David will be relocating to St. George, where they plan to golf, hike, and enjoy the warm weather, but we expect to see her from time to time when she returns to Salt Lake City to visit her family. Read Carol’s retirement story.

Ethanne Waldo, administrative assistant for the admission and college counseling departments, retired in December 2018 after 28 years of service to Rowland Hall. In her nearly three decades here, she wrote and proofread countless letters, maintained databases and produced reports, and tracked the many steps of the application process for both incoming Rowland Hall students and seniors preparing for college. Ethanne’s positive attitude and strong work ethic are just two of her traits that Director of Admission Kathy Gundersen most appreciates. "She has an observant eye and a sharp sense of humor," Kathy said, "and in her quiet voice, she has been known to drop the most astonishing commentary." We’ll miss Ethanne dearly and wish her a wonderful retirement. Read Ethanne’s retirement story.

The way this community works together so students can achieve their athletic and academic goals is inspiring.—Sarah Getzelman

Sarah Getzelman, Rowmark Ski Academy team manager, leaves Rowland Hall this summer after an action-packed 12 years. Sarah's skill, compassion, teamwork, and relationship building within Rowmark and the Rowland Hall community has been second to none, Rowmark Director Todd Brickson said. Sarah has been an unwavering, stabilizing force holding the often-hectic ski program together—she is leaving Rowmark a much better place. Sarah said she looks forward to our program’s continued success on and off the hill. “The way this community works together so students can achieve their athletic and academic goals is inspiring,” she added. We’re excited for her and will keep in touch as she climbs new mountains and skis down the other side.

Kristin Takahashi, middle and upper school librarian, left in summer 2018 after 12 years of service in order to start a new career as a paralegal. Kristin was instrumental in transforming the Lincoln Street Campus library into a 21st-century learning center. She was an early advocate for digital books and resources and played a key role in developing proper research techniques for our students. She was also an outstanding resource for faculty, and displayed remarkable attention to detail and thoroughness in her work for Rowland Hall. “It has been a privilege to work in such a caring community,” Kristin said. We wish Kristin the best in her new career.

Cindy Feinman, kindergarten assistant teacher, is moving back to the East Coast after 11 years at the Beginning School. Since 2008, Cindy has supported five kindergarten teachers, contributing her wisdom, even-keeled sensible approach, and caring attention to the interior lives of young children and adults. In 2015, Cindy won the Sumner Award, and now-retired principal Carol Blackwell described her this way: “Cindy starts each day with a smile, warm hug, or word of encouragement for students and parents. Her positive comments reassure parents that their child is in confident hands. She delights in the relationships she establishes each year, and she cares deeply for the children and their families.” Cindy has also served as a divisional ombudsperson and on the Faculty Budget Committee. We’ll dearly miss her warmth, wry humor, and insight about the emotional lives of kindergarteners, and wish her the best.

Our nine years here have been among the most stimulating and rewarding of my life, professionally and personally. The Upper School is a dynamic group of professionals whose collaborative spirit has helped me learn so much about what we all do.—Dr. Fiona Halloran, pictured top

Dr. Fiona Halloran, beloved Upper School history teacher and department chair, is relocating to San Diego with her family after nine years at Rowland Hall. She wore many hats here: mentor, collaborator, storyteller, quilter, lunch host, Interim innovator, member of the disciplinary committee and many hiring committees, prolific writer of rec letters, tireless advocate for students and faculty, and more. Fiona engaged, captivated, and inspired in her classroom, while striving to uphold a culture of care, accountability, and professionalism schoolwide. Dr. Halloran said she heads to California with a profound sense of gratitude for the warmth and generosity of the Rowland Hall community. “Our nine years here have been among the most stimulating and rewarding of my life, professionally and personally,” said Fiona, also mom to Iain, who has grown up in our beginning and lower schools. “The Upper School is a dynamic group of professionals whose collaborative spirit has helped me learn so much about what we all do.”

Shannon Casson, Middle School athletics director and physical education (PE) teacher, relocated to British Columbia with her husband in summer 2018 after five years at Rowland Hall. Our school benefited from Shannon's expertise and dedication to the PE program on both the McCarthey and Lincoln Street campuses. She excelled in bringing new curriculum and standards to the departments and ​ensured our Middle School athletics program ran smoothly, all while coaching multiple teams herself. While we’ll miss Shannon, her enthusiasm for wellness and the outdoors makes her an excellent match for British Columbia, and we wish her the best as she settles there.

Mark Davenport, ninth-grade history teacher affectionately known to students as “Dav,” leaves Rowland Hall after five years to pursue new challenges. Mark helped freshmen develop their academic and research skills and—through his eastern civilizations and Latin America courses—encouraged students to engage in complex narratives about the past. He also helped ninth graders challenge themselves via annual outdoor-learning adventures in the Uinta Mountains. Mark taught popular seminars, served on admissions and hiring committees, and created and nurtured a classroom environment that is supportive and engaging, as well as appropriately challenging. We’ll miss Mark’s patience, humor, thoughtfulness, and love of learning, and wish him the best.

Gina Kiechle, 4PreK assistant teacher, is relocating to the San Diego area with her family after five years of service to the Beginning School. During Gina’s time here, she shared her passions for music, yoga, stories, and sustainability with students and grown-ups alike. She also served as a liaison between the Beginning School and the Sustainability Committee, and in that role helped division faculty and staff hold themselves to a higher standard for water use, composting, recycling, and more. While we’ll miss Gina's beautiful singing voice and her talent for animated storytelling, we’re excited for her to embark on her next adventure—living the surf life with her husband in California. Gina said that Rowland Hall has been an important part of her life, both as an employee and as a parent of graduate Laura ’05. “The ideals to which this school strives are exemplary,” she wrote. “It has been a dream job!”

Elizabeth Rodriguez, 4PreK assistant teacher, leaves the Beginning School after five years of impactful work. During her time here, she built rich relationships with students, families, faculty, and staff. She'll be missed for her kind and patient way with children, her keen insights and comforting presence with families, and her willingness to chip in and share the workload with her teammates. Happily, we'll still get to see plenty of Elizabeth as a Rowland Hall parent next year, as her eldest will be in 4PreK. We wish Elizabeth all the best in her new professional adventure teaching high school Spanish to native speakers.

Dave Samson, Upper School assistant principal, leaves after four years to head the Upper School at the Brookwood School in Massachusetts. “Dave has been a peerless and fearless partner in leading the Upper School,” Principal Ingrid Gustavson said. He gracefully juggled the daily trials and tribulations of school life while developing meaningful programming and policies that will endure for years to come, Ingrid added. Dave championed balance, wellness, student voices, and restorative practices in the Upper School. Most importantly, he valued building relationships over time, and with empathy as a core vehicle for success—whether in working through a disciplinary situation, helping students choose their courses, or managing parent expectations. While we’ll miss Dave, we’re happy that he gets to move back closer to extended family, and grow as a leader in this next chapter of his career.

Jill Chesley-McGinnis, 4PreK lead teacher, is leaving the Beginning School after two years to focus on teaching early childhood education at the University of Utah. Jill has a seemingly endless wealth of kindness, patience, and profound love for young children and their families. This year, she has served as a facilitator of the self-study group for social-emotional learning—a deeply important and complex component of a Rowland Hall education. We’ll miss Jill's warmth, cheer, and deep knowledge of young children's development, but we’re pleased that she'll continue her impactful work on their behalf in her role at the University of Utah.

Marcus Milling, Upper School chemistry teacher, is leaving Rowland Hall after two years. Marcus brought inquiry-based, lab-intensive practices to the chemistry curriculum, led his colleagues in sharing lab experiences, and advocated for time, resources, and collaboration to grow a strong lab-based program across scientific disciplines. We’ll miss his initiative and passion for science. The high number of students signed up for Advanced Topics (AT) chemistry are a testament to his teaching. Students in tenth-grade and AT chemistry courses now spend more than half their class time collecting data, analyzing the results, and coming to their own conclusions about how the physical world operates, thanks in part to Marcus’ work.

Linda Quinn, Beginning School administrative assistant, leaves Rowland Hall after two years of work. Linda was instrumental in supporting a smooth transition for her division after former principal Carol Blackwell retired. She’ll be missed for her warmth with students, families, and teachers; her wry sense of humor; and her hard work on behalf of our community. We wish her all the best in her next adventures.

Melissa Sharp, seventh-grade science teacher and advisor, is moving to Los Angeles to teach high school science after two years at our Middle School. Melissa is a passionate science educator who will be greatly missed by her students and colleagues. In addition to the dynamic lessons she created in her classroom, she was a strong advocate for her students here. We wish Melissa all the best in California.

Liz VanLeeuwen, part-time library media assistant, left in November 2018 after two years of service to the McCarthey Campus. We wish her the best.

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