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Earning the Highest Honor
In 2022 the U.S. government named McKay School alumna Heidi Boogert one of 102 recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Given out this past February, this is the highest recognition that K–12 science, mathematics, technology, engineering, and computer science teachers can receive.
“The award recognizes that those teachers have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful,” states the Presidential Award website (“About the Awards,” PAEMST, paemst.org/about/view).
“Being a teacher means being creative, reflective, and a classroom community architect,” Boogert says. She feels grateful to have received the award and
states, “This good fortune began when I was a student whose love of learning was ignited in classrooms with teachers who welcomed and valued me. As a professional, I cherish that my growth and understanding have been deepened in many ways—but always with inspiring colleagues. I’m grateful to the students who have been part of my journey and who have shown me what makes a classroom joyful.”
Boogert teaches third-grade mathematics at Highland Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City. She began her career 17 years ago with a McKay School internship that she says gave her “the best start”: “Having the autonomy of a classroom teacher with the support of an expert and a group of colleagues in the same stage of their careers was invaluable.”
Extending Education Outside the Classroom
Brenna Scadden made the most of her McKay School education by working with recovering stroke patients and even traveling to India to help implement a program to assist children in language development.
Scadden graduated from the McKay School with her bachelor’s degree in 2019 and a master’s in communication disorders in 2021. During her undergraduate education, Scadden assisted Professor Douglas B. Petersen with Story Champs, a program that assists children with language comprehension skills. Scadden’s team taught teachers in India how to implement Story Champs into their language programs; the teachers then adapted the program to their culture. This has resulted in a tier-one, peer-reviewed publication.
For her graduate thesis, Scadden focused on aphasia, which is the loss of language after a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Working with Professor Tyson G. Harmon, Scadden’s team discovered that many patients recovering from a stroke found it difficult to concentrate on speech improvement if their environment was loud and disruptive.
Scadden now works as a speech-language pathologist specializing in early intervention. Scadden uses—and relishes— a home-visit system for work. “I love the aspect of working with people, helping them meet their goals, and helping them progress from where they are at right now,” she says.
From the McKay School to the Midwest, Marriage, and a Master’s
As a student in the McKay School, Lindsey Elmont Nye wasn’t sure where her move to the Midwest would lead. This leap of faith led her to a place in which she married the love of her life and pursued a career she loves: helping cancer patients rehabilitate speech, swallowing, and voice during and after chemoradiation or after reconstructive surgery.
Prior to graduating from the McKay School in 2016 with a degree in communication disorders, Nye shadowed speech-language pathologists and gained hands-on experience, solidifying her conviction that she’d chosen the right career path. In 2018, Nye graduated with a master of science in speech-language pathology from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During her fellowship year, she worked as a speech therapist for a Wisconsin school district. She then accepted a position in the Department of Otolaryngology at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she has spent the last three years specializing in head and neck cancer patients.
“As hard as my job can be sometimes,” says Nye, “the pride I feel from having a personal connection with these patients and watching their resilience, even in the face of death, is more rewarding than any trophy.”