OGDEN -- Several teachers received a little extra cash for the summer, thanks to their peers and the Ogden School Foundation.
A teacher from each school in Ogden School District received a check for $250 from the foundation to spend on anything they wanted -- no stipulations. The idea for the awards came in the spring, when foundation board members wanted to show their appreciation to teachers, said Foundation Director Janis Vause.
The board emailed a survey to the teachers and principal at each school, asking specific questions about any teacher they thought was the best at the school.
Collaborating well with families and colleagues to help students and creating a positive learning environment were two of the listed attributes the nominated teacher should have. The foundation board members then went through each nomination form and chose the teachers with the most votes.
"We had some schools with a lot of participation and some with not as much," said Vause, who believes next year's response will be bigger as teachers learn more about the program.
The nomination forms were kept anonymous.
"We wanted the teachers to vote for themselves if they wanted," Vause said.
She said she was impressed with the wide variety of teachers who were chosen.
"We had some new teachers that come in with a lot of new ideas, and then some seasoned teachers with so much experience that are close to retirement," Vause said.
One of the "seasoned" teachers, Connie Bennett, a fourth-grade teacher at Polk Elementary, had no idea she would win. Bennett is retiring, so when the principal told her she needed to attend the assembly, she thought it might be for something about that.
"I had forgotten all about the other award," she said. "I wasn't even thinking about it at all."
Vause said many of the teachers didn't even think they would win.
"That's what you like to see," she said.
Bennett thought it was great that the money was to be spent in any way the teachers wanted to spend it.
"I'm pretty sure most of the teachers will spend it on teaching materials," she said with a smile. "I know I would, if I was still going to be teaching."
Vause said it was important to the foundation donors that the money be a personal reward to the teachers, with no strings attached. In the fall, the foundation offers mini grants for teachers to use in the classroom, but this is all a teacher reward, she said.
Mount Ogden Junior High School history teacher Miguel Aguilar found it very gratify ing to receive the award after being nominated by his fellow teachers.
"He said that was the biggest thrill for him, to be honored by his peers," Vause said.
The teachers also each received a special certificate and will be honored at a half-time Weber State University football game later this fall.