Several local teachers honored with prestigious Golden Apple Award

David Holt (Pine View High School) flanked by Carl and Emma Russell, members of the St. George Chapter of the BYU Alumni Association, date unspecified, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Linda Sappington, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Five amazing, talented and inspirational educators were recently honored at the Washington County high schools where they daily “contribute toward building a stronger, better-educated society.”

Jace Johnson (Dixie High School) with Vicky Lewis, chairman of the St. George Chapter of the BYU Alumni Association and Carl Lewis, date unspecified, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Linda Sappington, St. George News

Being recognized at their respective high school assemblies were Jace Johnson, on the faculty of Dixie High School; David Holt, who teaches at Pine View High School; Kyle Jones, who shapes lives at Snow Canyon High School; Jared Bringhurst, from Desert Hills High School; and Kyle Lewis, an educator at Tuacahn High School.

Each was presented with an engraved 2nd annual Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching and Leadership for outstanding work in his classroom, a gift card from Applebee’s and the applause of his grateful students.

The prestigious Golden Apple Award presented annually by the St. George Chapter of the BYU Alumni Association, went – for the first time – to all male recipients nominated by senior LDS seminary students with votes cast by the entire seminary student body, according to Vicki Lewis, chairwoman of the local BYU organization.

Pine View’s recipient David Holt, probably better known as “Coach” or “Coach Holt,” was recognized not only as one of the best cross-country coaches in Utah but as an outstanding teacher as well. “He shows as much dedication for his students as he does for his athletes.”

Holt uses his great personality and love for his students to create a learning environment to help everyone, not only learn, but also to become a better person. It is not uncommon to see dozens of students in his classroom before school and during lunch. He creates a community at Pine View which inspires hard work, commitment and friendships. He expects a lot from his students but gives them every single tool needed to excel. His classes are not easy, but his loving and truly caring nature help push student to success. Each student feels they are known and have a voice in class. “

Kyle Jones (SCHS) with Vicky Lewis and Carl Lewis, date unspecified, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Linda Sappington, St. George News

Other of his students say, “He encourages thinking! Making you work hard for the answer;” “I feel as though I left class with not just knowledge and random facts but with life lessons as well” and “I have never had a challenging class which was this much fun.”

Students at Dixie High School say of their honoree Jace Johnson, “Mr. Johnson deserves every award out there! He is the hottest supermodel, best actor, and the best father! But most importantly, the best teacher! Mr. Johnson always has a smile and a sense of humor which makes class exciting and fun. He strives to get along with each of his students, and in doing so, he makes learning extra special for us. He is the type of teacher you can have a normal conversation with about anything. He is easy to relate to. Mr. Johnson is an amazing teacher because he cares about his students and tries his best to help them succeed!”

Kyle Jones is a special teacher at Snow Canyon High School who encourages the pursuit of learning. Accumulated from the remarks of multiple students, the student body appreciates his unique angle on teaching.

Kyle Lewis (Tuacahn High School) with Rex and Vicky Lewis and Carl and Emma Russell, date unspecified, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Linda Sappington, St. George News

“He always finds a way to explain concepts and things in a different way. He will do what it takes for his students, to fully understand something.” Another student explained how much patience he possesses. “He never gets cross or stern at us. Even if the class is too loud, he’ll work with us.” At the end of the day, Mr. Jones is willing to provide a way for each student to succeed. “He’ll work with us and give us opportunities to raise our grade as much as possible.”

Furthermore, he expects his students to be responsible and have accountability, a characteristic which will see every student through the rest of their education and careers.

Students at Tuacahn High School were asked to describe their teacher Kyle Lewis in one word. Responses included Passionate. Life changing. Intelligent. Inspiring. Meritorious. Innovative. Groovy. Genius. Driven. Trusting. Knowledgeable. Swag. Kosher. Inventive. Artistic. Truthful. Powerful. Honest. Amazing. Hardworking.

And, he has a way of connecting with students which is engaging and inspires critical thinking. He challenges them to ask questions and apply feedback while remaining humble and willing to receive feedback himself. “We are not only learning different methods and tools we can use in acting but how we can use them to create our own work.”

Jared Bringhurst (DHHS) with Rex and Vicky Lewis, date unspecified, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Linda Sappington, St. George News

He also has a unique “ability to give students space to be truthful, without pressure or making them feel uncomfortable. He does this by encouraging us to abandon our ego and work to be the best we can be. Kyle Lewis is hands-down one of the most inspiring, kind, and influential people I’ve ever met in my life. We are so blessed and thankful to have him apart of our Tuacahn family.”

Of Desert Hills High School’s recipient Jared Bringhurst, students noted, “Although this is only his second year of teaching, he has influenced many students. Mr. Bringhurst is amazing and is truly passionate about what he does. He spends countless hours preparing and constantly aims to make his lessons better. Mr. Bringhurst comes to school ready to encourage learning with a smile and a contagiously good attitude. His students, performing at an excellent academic level, exemplify his teaching ability. What really makes him stand out as our choice for this award this year, is his ability to connect with every student. He believes in everyone’s ability to improve and never asks them to do anything he is not willing to do himself. His first priority is to find out how the students are doing and how he can help them. You can always find students in his classroom getting help on their assignments, being taught one on one, talking, getting advice, and laughing. He has achieved a classroom expectation of high academic performance and has motivated students to be better people.”

Lewis said, “It was amazingly impactful to witness these presentations to such deserving teachers. This is an award we hope to continue presenting each year. It helps all of us better see good in the world. Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients.”

The St. George Chapter of the BYU Alumni Association is one of many such organizations nationwide which offer services and activities to keep alumni connected and active in the life of the university today.

For more information about the Golden Apple award or on how to become involved in the St. George Chapter of the BYU Alumni Association, call 435-272-7564.

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