Awards and Recognitions
Teacher of the Year Awards
NUES Region | SEDC Region | SESC Region
Mindy Terry, Daggett School District
Mindy Terry has been an educator for eleven years. She started her career as a third-grade teacher in Wyoming in 2011. In 2014, she joined the teaching staff at Daggett School district, where she taught fourth grade at Manila Elementary for a year, and then moved into a sixth-grade position for five years. When an opportunity arose for an instructional coach in the district, she knew she needed to apply. It was hard for her to leave the classroom, but coaching teachers is something she always dreamed of doing when she grew up. Now or never seemed to be the motto to live by. Mindy has been an instructional coach for two years and has enjoyed working with teachers and students. Mindy’s degree, Master of Education in Instructional Design, has helped her lead in the district as a coach and in other capacities. If you ask her, her official title is District Middle Man.
In her free time, she enjoys working in the yard and tending to her plants indoors and out. She spends time with her family doing whatever the day’s shenanigans present. Living near the Flaming Gorge, she spends time paddle boarding and enjoying nature. During the many cold months, she dabbles in watercolor painting, redecorating, reading, exploring the Enneagram, and binge-watching her favorite shows while crafting. Mindy’s life motto is: Enjoy the day! You never know, it might be your last.
Merilee Terry, Kanab High School
Chris Sweeney, Carbon High School
Chris Sweeney currently teaches 9th - 12th grade students world geography, AP world history, AP government and politics, and psychology at Carbon High School in Price, Utah. Sweeney received a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science Education while minoring in Economics at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.
During his 21 years of teaching, Sweeney has encouraged his students that while excelling in the classroom, to break free of the traditional four walls and pursue activities that extend beyond the confines of general education. Whether it be an extracurricular activity or an activity in the community, students can find their niche and explore options that may define their future selves.
Sweeney himself finds joy in advising and coaching multiple groups. He enjoys working with Sterling Scholars, Student Government, Quiz Bowl, Utah History Day, and the Carbon High Marching Band and Color Guard. Sweeney was selected as the Carbon School District Teacher of the Year in 2014 and 2022. He has also received the National History Day - Utah Teacher of the Year Award in 2015.
In his spare time, Sweeney enjoys spending time with his wife of 17 years, Shelley, and their four children. He also enjoys traveling to historical sites around the country gaining knowledge and stories to share in the classroom with his students.
Administrator of the Year Award:
Principal Rena Orton, Mt. Pleasant Elementary School
Rena Orton is currently the principal at Mt. Pleasant Elementary in North Sanpete School District. This is her 14th year as principal. Before becoming principal, she taught sixth grade for ten years at Mt. Pleasant Elementary and six years at Panguitch Elementary in Garfield County. She is a graduate of Southern Utah University and Utah State. She enjoys working with students, teachers, staff, and parents. One of her biggest accomplishments was moving everything from one school into a new elementary over the Christmas holidays. That was a big task.
Rena is married to Harold Orton and they have three sons. She enjoys fishing and playing in the mountains with her family. Her new passion is being the best grandma possible to her granddaughter, Denally.
Friends of Education: Representatives Bradley Last and Lowry Snow
Representative Snow was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Utah House of Representatives in 2012. He currently serves as Chair of the House Education Standing Committee and is also a member of the Education Appropriations Committee. He has sponsored several bills dealing with Juvenile Justice including comprehensive reform in 2017 which provided for early interventions for young offenders involved in Utah’s juvenile justice system. He currently serves as a member of Utah’s Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee. In addition to his work in Juvenile Justice, he has sponsored several bills dealing with education. He has advocated for the expansion of Optional Extended Kindergarten opportunities for all children, sponsoring several bills and
appropriation requests over the last 7 years which have expanded this program across the state. He has been an advocate and cheerleader for teachers—in large measure because he is married to recently retired Sheryl Snow who taught high school in the Washington County School District for over 30 years. One of the statements he often makes when he speaks to groups about his work in the legislature, is: “I believe one of the most important tasks we undertake as lawmakers is to provide for and fund the very best educational opportunities possible for the children of our state.”
Outstanding Service: Ray Timothy, CEO/Executive Director UETN
Dr. Timothy serves as the CEO/Executive Director of one of the country's premier Research and Education networks, Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN). UETN provides network services, application services, and support services to public education, higher education, and libraries. It is a public/private partnership that connects every public school, charter school, college, applied technology college, and university in Utah. UETN provides connectivity and educational resources to more than 824,000 students and more than 80,000 educators and staff in Utah public and higher education.
UETN is also responsible for broadband connectivity to 70+ healthcare sites throughout the State of Utah. Sites include rural hospitals, clinics, community health centers, public health departments, and the University of Utah dialysis centers, among others.
Dr. Timothy comes to the head of UETN after having served for over 45 years in various educational leadership positions. He has served as a classroom teacher, principal at the elementary and secondary levels, district superintendent, and deputy state superintendent. In those areas of responsibility, he has had a continual focus on the use of technology to enhance the educational opportunities for students. He has served on multiple educational technology advisory groups for the Governor of Utah and other state leaders. He recognizes the unique role UETN plays in “Networking for Education and Healthcare” in Utah.