Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Once again, one of my favorite people gets the recognition he deserves. Here is the article from the newspaper:

Big ideas, big character
Washington Elementary Principal Staheli wins Huntsman award

By David DeMille

ST. GEORGE — He sleeps on the roof, jumps out of planes and runs marathons.
He eats lunch with his stu­dents, takes them on field trips to his family farm and has his head shaved on the playground.
Whatever it takes to moti­vate his students, Washington Elementary School Principal Burke Staheli is willing to give it a try.

The tireless Staheli has spent the last 10 years making his mark as the head of Washington Elementary School, becom­ing well-known for his willing­ness to perform unusual stunts as an incentive for students to meet challenges, but also for the enthusiasm with which he encourages students to learn.

“He’s an amazing man,” said Hollie Aldred, the staff developer who has worked with Staheli at Washington Elementary for the past nine years. “He runs 300 miles per hour and we run to keep up.”

On Friday he’ll be recog­nized for his efforts as one of 10 Utah educators this year to receive the Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education.
Staheli joins an elite group of educators who have been rec­ognized as the state’s best over the past two decades.
Now in its 19th year, the Huntsman award program rec­ognizes 10 recipients — two teachers and one adminis­trator from the elementary, middle and high school levels, plus one volunteer. Each win­ner receives a $10,000 check and a crystal obelisk during a banquet, plus the prestige that comes with the title.

“I was just honored, hum­bled,” Staheli said, recalling the day that he learned about the award.
While Aldred kept him occu­pied in his office, faculty, staff and students snuck into the gymnasium. Then Staheli was told there was an emergency in the gym and when he ran in, the entire school was there for the announcement.
“I was told by a lot of people it’s the first time they’ve seen me speechless,” Staheli said.

Washington Elementary School principal Burke Staheli demonstrates the proper way to pull a handcart for a group of fourth-graders as they prepare to head out on the road between Rockville and Grafton on Thursday during a handcart trek. A bus load of students spent a day away from the reading, writing and arithmetic found in their classrooms and braved the trials of the trail to lean how some of the pioneers made their way to Utah in the 19th century. JUD BURKETT / THE SPECTRUM

Staheli credited his teachers and staff — dreamers and doers and movers and shakers, as he called them — for helping to create an environment for learning at the school, where students have continued to perform well on standardized testing despite coming increasingly from low-income households.

“I think we need to have a glass-half-full type of attitude about the potential of our children,” Staheli said, indicating that he thinks students from any background are in a position to learn.

He pushed for Washington Elementary to become the district’s first “No Excuses University” school, a national push to start equipping grade school students with the tools they’ll need for college, starting a yearly fund to provide two $500 scholarships for former students.

He has also started numerous fundraisers and other projects through the school, trying to instill a sense of community service in students.

Through it all, he maintains a uniquely friendly relationship with students, and school staff said students’ appreciation for Staheli as a person plays a big part in their willingness to work hard and meet his challenges.
“He knows each student by name, and a little bit about them,” said Dixie Hatch, school secretary.
In a letter nominating Staheli for the Huntsman award, teachers, parents and former students painted the principal as an innovative educator whose commitment to learning is never questioned.
“He has been amazing at looking into new ideas which are futuristic and push children to be better citizens and students,” Braxton Bateman, a teacher, said.

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