Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alum wins Utah “Best of State” Educator Award

Indiana University School of Education
Alumni e-newsletter

Alum wins Utah “Best of State” Educator Award

Teacher for nearly thirty years honored during gala on May 31. By her own count, Lu Ann Brobst Staheli has taught reading and writing to more than 4,000 students. The Utah award is part of the annual Utah Best of State program, which honors excellence in a variety of fields.

Posted On: September-15-2008

How has an IU School of Education graduate turned out students proficient in reading and writing and instilled a love of literature for 29 years? To quote from a loud used-car commercial of days past, “Volume, volume, volume!”

“Until I’ve given them a million words, I can’t teach them how to write,” said Lu Ann Brobst Staheli, B.S. ’76. On the staff at Payson Jr. High School in Payson, Utah since 1984, she says she puts a lot of words in front of her students to help them overcome fears of reading and writing. “The more words I can put in front of them, the more likely they will discover something—a book, short story, poem, or piece of non-fiction—anything that will hook them, giving them a reason to get excited about reading.”

Her passion and her success earned accolades from the annual “Utah Best of State” awards, a program which annually recognizes excellence from a variety of fields across Utah. Staheli won the Best of State Educator K-12 award for her work over the years in teaching English, Writing for Publication, and Reading Options. “At first I didn't realize how big this award was, but I was excited to be nominated and chosen winner of my category,” Staheli said. “I had won other teaching awards before, and assumed this was similar in scope. Then I read the judging criteria and listened to stories about some of the other winners in various categories. I realized that winning Best of State was a wonderful honor.”

Staheli estimates she’s taught more than 4,000 students, many of whom she sees often. “Once my student, always my student,” she said. Many come back to visit the classroom or contact her for book recommendations or just to talk. She said the students develop a sense of connection with her by sharing literacy, which she said helps them value books and writing as adults.

And her work is very visible on the internet, where she maintains several blogs related to reading and writing. “ has become the gateway to all my blogs and evolved into a place where I write about my life,” Staheli said. “ allows me to share author interviews and book reviews with teachers, librarians, students, and friends; started as a place to share info with librarians and those in my technology classes; has tips for parents, teachers and students about literacy; focuses on adult literacy issues; and started in my graduate class as a place for school librarians to share info.”

Staheli points with pride to being a “teacher of teachers.” Two former students also teach at Payson Jr. High, another is an administrator, and several others are in education elsewhere. She says she’s also moved students toward careers in creative writing and journalism. In all students, she’s hoped to encourage a lifelong love of reading.

“People who read succeed,” she said. “If a student reads well, school is easier. Eventually my students leave the junior high school. Most of them graduate from high school. Obviously, those who leave with reading and writing skills will move on to successful careers that add to the economy."

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