EVANSTON — Uinta Meadows Elementary fourth-grade teacher Caryn Piper has been named the Uinta County School District No. 1 Teacher of the Year. Piper, an Evanston High School graduate, has been a teacher in the district for more than 25 years, teaching multiple elementary grade levels in that time.
In a nomination letter shared with the Herald, UME Principal Jerrod Dastrup shared what he believes makes Piper an outstanding teacher. Dastrup said Piper “embodies the three big ideas” of the UME professional learning community (PLC), the first of which is ensuring all students learn.
“The most challenging students thrive under her direction because she helps them see their own potential,” reads Dastrup’s letter. “Caryn puts students first in every situation and she works around the clock on their behalf because she loves them.”
The nomination letter said Piper also works as part of the UME collaborative culture, the second of the three big ideas of a PLC. “Caryn has held collaborative leadership roles as a kindergarten and second-grade teacher, each for 10 years, and now she leads her fourth-grade team,” which today is one of the most high achieving and collaborative, data-driven grade-level teams in the school.
Dastrup’s letter said Piper has been instrumental in many district committees, including English language and math resource adoption and curriculum pacing guides, evaluation adoption, report cards, blended learning, social studies and more. “She has presented at school board meetings as the voice for elementary teachers for many different district events and initiatives.”
The third “big idea” of a PLC is “focus on results.” Dastrup said, “I have never worked with a more data-driven educator. She is our school-wide data specialist, creating data protocols, spreadsheets and assessments.”
The nomination letter said multiple grade levels work with Piper to guide data practices and the students in her classroom are always high achieving. “What’s even more impressive is the amount of students in her class who were basic or below basic in third grade who move to proficient or advanced by the end of the year…She sets up all fourth graders for success entering the fifth grade.”
Dastrup said Piper’s voice is valued at UME and throughout the district. “When I find Caryn at my office door I invite her in and I listen. Her forward thinking and proactivity make UME and our district stronger…She was the first teacher who came to me to discuss the student gap that will need to be addressed in the fall due to COVID-19.” Dastrup said, “She changes lives, all lives, for the better.”
When Dastrup and Becky Symes, literacy coach, made a surprise visit to Piper’s home to present her with the award, Dastrup said the vote to determine the district teacher of the year was unanimous, including principals of the other schools in the district, who are all aware of Piper’s invaluable contributions to the district.
Dastrup’s nomination letter will now accompany Piper’s application for consideration for the title of Wyoming Teacher of the Year.