Awards and Recognitions

CUES Teacher of the Year Award:

Mary Westover, Tintic School District

Mary Westover photo

Mary Westover is currently a  K-6 teacher at the tiny West Desert Elementary School in Trout Creek, Utah. In 2004, she received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. In 2008, she earned her Master of Arts in Curriculum and Design. 

Mary has always loved learning and decided to pursue education to help instill that same love for learning in her future students. Her career began at Roy Elementary in Weber School District, where she was hired to teach first grade. During her seven years at Roy Elementary, she taught first and third grades and summer school math. In 2011, she left teaching to move with her husband out-of-state for his career. 

In 2020, Mary received a job posting for a tiny “one-room school” in Trout Creek, Utah. After failing to find this Utah town on the map, she was intrigued. Mary and her husband were invited to make the four-hour drive to meet the community and potential students at the high school Valentine’s dance. It was love at first sight. She began teaching at West Desert Elementary the following school year with seven students in grades K-6. Currently, she has sixteen students with the promise of more each year.

Mary works to provide a positive learning environment that also creates lasting memories for all of her students.


SEDC Teacher of the Year Award:

Tammy Houston , Panguitch Middle / High School

Tammy Houston photo

Tammy Houston has been a Special Eduction teacher for Garfield County School District for 29 years. She graduated from SUU with a dual major in Special Education & Elementary Education. She got her first teaching job at Panguitch Middle/High School and fell in love. She has never left. 

She is the teacher that believes anyone can learn no matter the hand they were given. Students in her classroom are held to a high standard; while she helps them navigate through things that don’t always come easy to them. Her favorite part about being an educator is working with other staff members, and kids are why she returns every year.

Outside of being ‘Mrs. Houston’, she loves the title of being a wife, mother, and grandma. She has an amazing husband (Ryan), 4 amazing kids, and 3 grandkids. When she is not with family you can find her reading a book, and listening to or singing music.

She is very honored that she was nominated for this title and wants to thank all those she has worked with. A special thanks goes to all the students that have truly made an impact on her life.


SESC Teacher of the Year Award:

Brian Parkin, Grand School District 

Brian Parkin Photo

Brian is a British-born American photographer based in Moab, Utah. Born in Bolton, England, he graduated from the University of Reading (BSc. Chemistry), taught science in the UK and Belgium, and worked as a science book editor. He studied art & photography at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco graduating with an MFA in 1994. From 1995 to 2001 he worked as a camera assistant and location scout with commercial photographers in California. He moved to Moab, Utah in 2001, made fine copy art images for artists, and operated a fine art gallery in Moab from 2006 to 2009. From 2009 to 2018 he instructed online students in Photography at the Academy of Art University and the Art Institutes Pittsburgh. Currently, he teaches English Language Arts to high school sophomore students at GCHS in Moab, Utah. Brian continues to make new photographs but his current medium of choice is photomontage.


NEUS Administrator of the Year Award:

Jayme Leyba, Uintah School District

Jayme LeybaExperience

Jayme began his career in Ogden School District at Lewis Elementary working with gang-involved students and their families. He moved his family to Vernal to work for Uintah School District as a school counselor at West Junior High. A few years later he made the move to administration as an assistant principal at Vernal Junior High and Uintah High School. Jayme was then promoted to principal at Davis Elementary and ultimately made his last stop as the director of curriculum for Uintah School District where he oversees K-12 curriculum and instructional coaching.  All told, he has 29 years of serving students and families in the field of education. Jayme is an outdoor enthusiast, has ran a few marathons, loves his family, and enjoys spending time with his four-legged companion and best friend Zeke. 


Bachelor of Arts-University of Utah

Masters of Education Psychology-University of Utah

Administrative Endorsement-Utah State University



Friends of Education: Senators David P Hinkins & Derrin R Owens and Mark Huntsman

Senator David P Hinkins

Senator Hinkins

David Hinkins is a Republican member of the Utah State Senate, representing District 27. He was born and raised in Orangeville, Utah. He attended Emery High School and later earned a degree in Electrical Automation Technology from Utah Technical College.  Before entering politics, Hinkins worked in the mining industry and currently owns and runs an electrical service business. 

Hinkins was first elected to the Utah State Senate in 2008 and has since been re-elected several times. He has been a vocal advocate for rural Utah, particularly regarding natural resource development and public lands management. He has also been a champion of education, supporting measures to increase funding for schools and teacher salaries.

In addition to his work in the Utah State Senate, Hinkins has served on various committees and boards, including the Western States Water Council and the Utah Mining Association.  Hinkins is married and has five children. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending time with his family.

Senator Derrin R Owens

Senator Owens

Senator Derrin Owens is 8th in his family of 9th children. He grew up on sawmills and a small ranch in the White Mountains of Arizona.

After ecclesiastical service to the Chicago area from 1985-87, he returned to work as a hunting guide on a private island off the coast of California,

Owens played football for Snow College in 1987. In 1988 he met Heather Shelley of Roosevelt Utah. Senator Owens and Heather married in 1989 and live in Fountain Green where they have raised 4 sons and a daughter.

As a first-generation college graduate, Sen. Owens received a bachelor’s degree from SUU in 1992. He earned a master’s degree in education at Grand Canyon University. Senator Owens spent 26 years as a coach, teacher, and school counselor at Juab High School. Four years ago, Sen. Owens made full circle to his higher Ed. Roots accepting a job in economic development for Snow College.

His political career began with encouragement from constituents in 2015. Senator Owens has served for the past 8 legislative sessions. Five in the House of Representatives and 3 in the Senate.  Legislative assignments have included Natural Resources, Business, Economic Development and Labor, Education and Transportation committees and he is the senate chair of the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice appropriations committee.

Mark Huntsman

Senator Owens

Mark Huntsman is a dedicated and accomplished leader who has devoted over three decades to the growth and success of Sunrise Engineering, Inc. Since joining the company, Mark has played a pivotal role in its development. Beginning with a staff of only 14 employees, Sunrise Engineering has flourished under Mark's visionary leadership and is now a prominent regional multi-disciplinary firm with nearly 500 employees and 22 offices spanning Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Colorado.

Throughout his career, Mark has assumed various roles within Sunrise Engineering, showcasing his versatility and expertise. He has served as regional manager, vice president, and senior vice president of operations companywide, and is currently president and chief executive officer for the firm. In addition, he has been an integral member of the Sunrise Engineering Board for over 22 years, contributing to strategic decision-making and guiding the company's expansion.

Beyond his professional achievements, Mark has consistently engaged in public service and education. He spent eight years serving on Millard School District Board. He more recently served on the Utah State Board of Education for eight years, being appointed as chairman of the Board the final six years. In this trusted capacity, he collaborated closely with the Governor's office and the legislature to shape education policies and funding priorities in Utah. 

Mark's commitment to his community is evident through his involvement in various organizations and initiatives. He has served on the Utah League of Cities and Towns, Midwest Energy Association, and Intermountain Municipal Gas Association. Additionally, he has been a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Gas Consumers. Mark also spends numerous volunteer hours as a member of the Millard County Sheriff’s Posse and also provides ESGR military support services.

Outside of his professional and public service endeavors, Mark cherishes his role as a family man. He and his wife, Brenda, have resided in Fillmore, Utah, for the past 43 years, raising their three children and welcoming their 14 grandchildren with open arms. Mark finds joy in spending quality time with his loved ones, instilling in them the values of hard work and the importance of outdoor activities. His personal interests include ranching, teaching youth about horsemanship and cattle work, as well as engaging in outdoor recreation like boating, camping, fishing, and hunting.

Mark's leadership as Sunrise Engineering President and CEO has fostered a culture of hard work and accountability. With a focus on conflict resolution and compliance across all disciplines and services, he ensures that clients' challenges are met with effective solutions. Under his guidance, Sunrise Engineering continues to thrive, providing exceptional engineering and consulting services to a diverse range of clients.

Dedicated Service Award

Robert " Bob" Potts Jr.


 Robert Potts supported Utah’s rural school districts and state-wide committees as an Education Technology Specialist for the Southeast Education Service Center. As a Technology Specialist, Robert had the opportunities to act as a technology communication conduit between the Utah Rural Schools Association, the Regional Technology Advisory Committee, Utah Education and Telehealth Network, Utah State Board of Education, and the Consortium for School Networking where he earned his Certified Education Technology Leader certification. Robert was responsible for organizing the Utah Technology Coordinators Council, and the Utah Winter Tech Retreat. He was dedicated to helping rural schools in Utah gain equity when it comes to education. Robert’s untimely passing in June, 2022 deeply impacted those who depended on his resources and support.

Robert was proud of his community and was well known throughout Carbon County and Price, Utah, where he was born and raised. He supported the College of Eastern Utah and later Utah State University Eastern’s athletic programs as the university’s Game Management Director. Robert also volunteered for the Price City Fire Department and Hazmat Department for over 20 years.


 Superintendent Dr. Cade Douglas URSA President 2023 

Kade Douglas photo

Cade Douglas grew up in Richfield, Utah. He is the third of five children.  He was born into an “educator” family.  His dad is a retired high school principal (39 years) and his mom is a retired third grade teacher (37 years).  He was destined to become an educator.

Dr. Douglas received his Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and Spanish.  Later, he received his Master’s of Education Degree, Administrative Endorsement/License and a Level I Reading Endorsement.  He earned a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Instructional and Curriculum Leadership at Northcentral University, in Prescott, Arizona.

Dr. Douglas has taught at the elementary, middle school, and college levels. He has experience as a literacy coach, elementary principal, secondary principal and district level administrator. On May 1, 2013 he was selected to become the superintendent of Sevier School District. He serves on dozens of local and state level boards and committees ranging from Trust Lands to the State Children’s Justice Center Advisory Board. He is also president of the Utah School Superintendents Association for 2023-24.

Executive Director Parker Kala’ionamoku “Duke” Mossmanfor Northeastern Utah Educational Services (NUES)

DukeParker Kala’ionamoku “Duke” Mossman

Duke is retiring as the Executive Director for Northeastern Utah Educational Services (NUES) and has served in that position for 17 years since 2006.  Duke was born and raised on the windward side of the Hawaiian island of O’ahu.  He has lived in the Heber Valley since 1991 where he met and married his sweetheart, Becky Ritchie Mossman.  They have three children ages 31, 26 and 19.

Duke’s first education position was at Wasatch High School where he taught computer/IT courses and coached volleyball from 1991-1999.  Following WHS, Duke moved on to the Utah State Office of Education as the Education Specialist for Information Technology education programs for seven years, finally landing at NUES.  Duke holds an Associate’s Degree in Business Information Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Brigham Young University-Hawaii, and a Master’s degree in Business Information Systems and Education from Utah State University.  He also worked for a CPA firm as a staff accountant and auditor in Honolulu for three years prior to moving to Utah.

Professionally Duke has been a strong advocate for RESAs, rural schools, concurrent enrollment, career and technical education (CTE), utilizing technology as a tool to enhance learning and volleyball (boys & girls).  Duke has been heavily involved in working with legislators and district superintendents to draft, promote and pass education legislation to improve the State’s education system and increase opportunities for students.  He has a huge respect for the entire education community, especially those in rural Utah.

Dukes hobbies include fishing, farming, SCUBA diving, finding new diners, drive ins and dives, and connecting to lost relatives.  Watch for his new show coming in the Fall “Quadruple D” (Duke’s Diners, Drive ins and Dives).  In retirement Duke’s first priority is to fish more.  Then after that, do whatever the “HELL” he wants to 😊