by Becky GINOS
KAYSVILLE—Some people go about changing lives with no thought of recognition. Stephanie Blaisdell is one of those people. Blaisdell is a third grade teacher at Endeavour Elementary and last week she received the praise she deserves. Blaisdell was honored with the 2018 Heidi Martin, Mighty Heart Educator of Excellence Award at a surprise assembly last Friday.
“She teaches, models and inspires,” said Endeavour Principal Traci Robbins. “Over 28 years she’s worked tirelessly behind the scenes not looking for credit, helping children with emotional and economic challenges. She was the leading teacher in academic proficiency and teachers from all over the state came to observe her.”
The award is named for Heidi Ann Martin, a Utah resident born with only two chambers in her heart. Martin had surgery when she was three days old and had a rare heart and liver transplant three years ago when she was 24. Jan. 12, 2017, she passed away from complications from her condition, according to material provided.
An anonymous donor created the award in Martin’s name to recognize an educator who has gone above and beyond in teaching. Endeavour will receive a $10,000 grant to be used as Blaisdell sees fit for the benefit of the school.
“The donors were friends of the Martin family,” Robbins said. “She (Blaisdell) was selected because a lot of people nominated her.”
Robbins said Blaisdell is a world traveler and uses her knowledge to enhance the classroom. “She makes learning relevant to kids,” she said. “She also taught Spanish for five years and she’s very tech savvy. She knows that technology is a tool. Her students are active bloggers. But she also believes that ‘no device, no tool, will replace the heart of a teacher.’”
Blaisdell said she was shocked by the honor. “This was the most amazing tribute I could have ever wanted,” she said. “My family kept it a complete secret. Actually, I’m so glad I didn’t know it was such a big surprise.”
The idea that the award is centered on the heart was especially touching for her because that’s what teaching is all about, she said. “When things get hard I just need to look into the kids’ cute little faces, so something about the heart was so special,” Blaisdell said. “I’ve had the best principals too. They have a lot of heart and passion about education so it’s been good to have that support.”
When she first started her career Blaisdell was working in business administration. “Then I lived in the Dominican Republic and that changed my mind,” she said. “I decided I wanted to be in the classroom with kids and watch them grow and change. It’s not for the money, fame or reward, it’s the little kids who leave hearts and notes on my desk. When I have hard days and then I get a handwritten letter or little gifts those rewards are better than any money I could get.”
When school ends for summer break Blaisdell isn’t relieved – she’s sad. “I’m always the teacher sitting on the last day crying,” she said. “I get so attached they’re like my own children.”
“That’s why she teaches day after day,” said Robbins. “Her heart is into her kids.”
“I’m so thankful to the donor,” Blaisdell said. “I want to tell them ‘thank you so much for honoring our teachers like this.’ Just a huge ‘thank you.’”