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Earning the Highest Honor

Heidi Boogert smiling
Photo courtesy of Heidi Boogert

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,

“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 Scaden with her husband, holding their kids
Photo courtesy of Brenna Scadden

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

Lindsey Nye smiling in a doctor's office
Photo courtesy of Lindsey Elmont Nye

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.”