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Mrs. Angel Pearce – Art City Elementary

Nominator: Dave Rowe
Art City Elementary School

In education we are surrounded by unselfish and dedicated people. Yet some stand out in the midst of so many honorable educators. Among those that stand out, Angel Pearce is champion. As Librarian of Art City Elementary, she has made such a significant contribution that the library has become the “heart beat” of the school. Her story is worth telling.
When Angel was hired eight years ago our meager library contained less than 3,000 books and was strictly used for circulation. Over time Angel has added 10,000 books and now boasts the largest collection of books (over 13,000) in all the elementary schools in the district. We have a hard time keeping up with her desire to fill the room with books as we haul in bookshelves and stamp new books. Not only does she provide plenty of literature, but she takes the new books home and reads them before she puts them on the shelves for circulation. She does this to ensure inappropriate literature stays out of our school and so she can be a resource to faculty, parents and students.

Understanding Angel’s knowledge of children’s literature, I decided to bring my oldest son, then 9 years old, over to see if she could spark his interest in reading. What then transpired was amazing. She began asking him questions about his interests and what books he had read (or partially read) that he enjoyed. She asked about what movies he liked and what toys he played with. After a few exchanges between Angel and my son, her eyes lit up and she excitedly led him over to the fantasy section and began pulling books off the shelves. She would take a book, briefly summarize the plot and ask if he would be interested. If he was interested, she would then describe the exciting parts to try to hook him. By the time we left, my son’s arms were loaded like he was hauling firewood. He raced home and dove into the stack. Since then, my son has not stopped reading. Despite his passion for sports and being active, my son faithfully and voluntarily wakes himself up every morning at 6:30 to read while the house is quiet. Angel does this for hundreds of children and parents every year.

As if being over books wasn’t enough, Angel has brought her passion of theater and drama into our school. Each class spends thirty minutes each week with her where she involves them in reader’s theater, short skits, book talks and more. She has transformed our mini amphitheater into what she calls the “Kingdom of Reading” where tapestries, thrones, red carpets, painted medieval scenes and a coat of arms take her students on the wings of their imaginations.

Several years ago she decided that we needed a school play at Art City Elementary. She roped a couple of teachers into it very successfully put on “Cinderella.” Since then, she and her team of teachers have put on “the Wizard of Oz,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Annie,” and others. Each one outdoes the previous. People rave over the quality of her productions and hundreds of our students audition each year for the upcoming play. At the conclusion of one of our performances of “Annie,” a parent approached me and said, “I have attended a lot of school plays and productions mostly in high schools, and this easily ranks among the best I’ve seen!” We receive comments like this all of the time, thanks to Angel.

On another occasion, a mother came to me with concerns about her daughter’s shyness and wondered what we could do to help. We concluded that putting her in the play might be worth trying. We enlisted Angel’s help and by the end of the play, this girl not only overcame her shyness, but gained confidence in other areas as well.

Several years ago Angel began to feel ill during the final week of the play. She soon discovered that she needed to have immediate gall bladder surgery. Despite many protests, Angel attended the final performance dragging her oxygen tank behind her.

Angel puts hundreds of volunteer hours into the play and everything else she does. She shops yard sales for play props, brings things from her home, seeks donations form local businesses, and enlists eagle scouts for school projects and so on.

Last fall Angel was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Doctors visits and surgeries (and recoveries) and took a lot of her time and energy and it became necessary for her pull out of the play and a couple of her regular and “extra-miler” responsibilities. We limped by that year. She remained positive and was in the library with the students as much as possible. I am happy to say again, in Angel fashion, she is back to full speed this year and better than ever. We are in the middle of our rehearsals for “Sleeping Beauty” and Angel is running circles around us.

Among the thousand little things she does for students, parents, faculty, staff, administration and district, the following are major things she does for the school:

• Co-Directs Annual School Play
• Sponsors two book fairs during school year and one summer book fair. She is one of Scholastic Book Fair’s top sellers. Book fair proceeds benefit either the PTA or the teachers. After each Spring Book Fair Angel will bring down the teachers and allow them to choose $200 worth of books for their classroom libraries.
• Annually conducts at least one school-wide reading incentive program that includes prizes, guest appearances, assemblies and daily morning announcements by students
• Angel raises enthusiasm for reading by promoting books to individual classes during their weekly session in the library with her.
• Angel is constantly applying for grants and seeking donations from local business to enhance school library, motivate students and improve school. She has brought in thousands of dollars for our school.
• Angel makes the library available to students every Wednesday during the summer months. She donates the summer hours she works in the library.
• Angel Public relations (Springville Herald, Daily Herald, district bulleting)
• Angel previews most every book she brings into the library so she can screen them or recommend them to the students. She also uses her knowledge of the books and the relationships
• Angel is a great resource to teachers in the building. Teachers constantly seek her help to find both fictional and non-fictional literature to support their lessons.
• When the new online library software was introduced throughout the district, Angel was asked to train the many librarians from other schools on how to effectively use it.
• Angel has the innate ability to make all students feel welcome and valued. As such, many students, including those struggling with school and/or life, seek her out for advice, acceptance and comfort. She truly is an advocate for children.

Angel’s influence extends beyond Art City Elementary into civic, religious, academic and business aspects of our community. She is one who constantly works to better the world around her. She truly is an “angel” to all who know her. As her name depicts, Angel is a blessing to Art City Elementary. We definitely are better because of her and she is a favorite among students.

Sincerely,

Dave Rowe
Principal

Nominator: Kim Buhler
Art City Elementary School

In September of 1998, the first of our five children became an Art City Eagle. This past fall, the last of our five entered kindergarten. While teachers and principals have come and gone, each leaving their mark, there is/was no one more influential in my children’s lives than “Mrs. Angel Pearce,” the librarian. Webster’s probably defines a librarian as a keeper of books. Mrs. Pearce expands that definition by being the “keeper of children.” Since coming to Art City eight years ago, Mrs. Pearce has not only been the school’s librarian, but also the self- appointed student comforter (when you have that bad day), cheerleader, motivator and advocate. She is, in my opinion, the person who has set the nurturing and challenging tone of the school and who day in, and day out, is the constant friend of every child there.

Her influence on the student body and the reality of what she contributes to the school became all more evident when she was diagnosed with a rare intestinal cancer in October, 2005. It was right before the school wide Scholastic Book Fair. Now a “Mrs. Pearce bookfair” is no ordinary book fair. Some wedding receptions are not planned, organized decorated or advertised at least half as well. Because as with everything she does, she incorporates every student to be involved, it’s a very in-depth situation. Suddenly Mrs. Pearce was in the hospital and the show had to go on. It took dozens and dozens of volunteers to coordinate the book fair. Many of us didn’t even have any idea what was entailed. It was only when we almost lost her that we realized what a major artery she was in the Art City system. We realized how much she was in charge of or contributed to. Mrs. Pearce had always tirelessly been behind or in front of the scenes. She ran and still runs it all. Because of her, many students had opportunities that they might not have had if they were at another school or with a different librarian. Mrs. Pearce is truly the “heart of the school.”

For instance, some of the programs that she has coordinated include:

1. Co-Directing the annual spring school wide plays “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Annie,” and this year’s production “Sleeping Beauty.” Every year almost 200 students audition and 70-90 students are selected. She co-coordinates rehearsals for 3-4 months before opening night, 3 times a week.
2. She was also one of the leaders of the Gifted/Talented Program (ACE club). My son told me after she had to leave due to her cancer surgery the program has not been the same since she left. (Apparently, she has doctors’ appointments up in SLC that exhaust her so she could no longer be involved in the program.)
3. Several years ago she directed the ACE club members as they participated in your own “KSL Tell Your Own Story” program. I believe Art City won a school award.
4. She also worked with KUTV to have Dan Pope the weather man come to our school. During the summer, she holds library days.
5. She hosted numerous Harry Potter parties at the school and other summer library parties. She plans programs that help the students continue to be motivated to read during the summer.
6. She is the school’s publicity representative for all the local papers. She works tirelessly with our students to allow them to write the articles and to train them to take the pictures. Mrs. Pearce takes the more difficult road of training the students to be in charge instead of being in charge.
7. Behind the scenes, she has given shoes to students who don’t have any.
8. As a librarian, she has read almost all the books in the library. Why? So that as she gets to know the students, she can recommend what books might interest them. That’s true dedication.
9. This last December, she wrote a letter to the Editor of the Springville Herald to remind the community and parents to simplify our lives and to remember the relationships that really matter. Personally as a mother of five and an attorney, I took her ideas to heart.

As a Vietnamese-American, I grew up with an idealism about America, its educational system and the hope it gives to everyday people – like you and me – that we can make a difference and pave our own way. Mrs. Pearce is an exceptional example of a person who helps students believe in themselves and their abilities. She’s very much into giving the children in our school the “hope of America.” She takes the harder road in teaching. First, she makes the effort to train herself extensively. She then takes the hard earned time to teach children, one on one and step by step, how to make a difference. She teaches them to set a goal, work hard to achieve it, and when they fail, she teaches them to try again and to not give up.

After Mrs. Pearce was diagnosed with cancer, I really thought she’d slow down especially in light of her weekly or monthly trips to the Huntsman Cancer Institute for continued treatment. No one would have faulted her for saying, “Hey, I need to just be a librarian–not anything else.” Yet she didn’t do that. Instead, she re-prioritized her life, figured out what things she could still contribute to, and kept going. She made and continues to make a difference, even while having less energy. She is a true inspiration to all of us.

Finally, my main purpose for nominating her, my kids. They love her. Five children over eight years have had her. Each of my children is very different. While all athletic, some love school, some like it. Some love to read, others don’t. Some are quiet, others talkative. Yet she has personalized her love and attention to each of my kids. She took my then first grade quiet, shy daughter and invited to audition for the school play. That changed her life. She helped my then, fifth grader, feel really inspired to earn an end of the year reading award. That son, now 14, loves, loves, LOVES to read. She inspired him with Harry Potter. She took this year 2nd grader, who would rather play football, and helped him find football books. She led my then 3rd grader in ACE Club. He still misses her. And how she got him and his sister, who normally ignore each other, to be in the same school play is amazing. This is the magic of Mrs. Pearce. She helps every child at their level. She inspires them. She motivates them. She loves them. It doesn’t matter who they are. She cares.

For these reasons, and too many others that time and space won’t let me enumerate, I respectfully nominate her as the “KSL Teacher Feature.”