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Colleen Curran – Riverton High School

I would like to nominate Colleen Curran for your Teacher Feature and hope that she can be recognized for the years of unselfish service she has given to both her school and especially her students.

Ms. Curran is a teacher at Riverton High School where she has taught for several years and excelled as reiterated by her Assistant Principal
“I have rarely had the pleasure of working with a teacher of Ms. Curran’s high caliber”.

“She is a very dedicated teacher. Students love being in her classes. They know her room is a safe place to be where there is always someone there who cares about them”.
“She has a gentle style with people which produce remarkable results”.

These are just some of the accolades which her assistant principal shared and which if asked anyone who knows her would agree with. Ms. Curran puts in hours of extra work over and above what an average teacher would put in; including hours of paperwork and the time she takes to create individual curricula for each of her individual students. Perhaps it would prove of great value to now mention that Ms. Curran is a special needs teacher and spends time developing these individual curricula because she takes time to understand that these special students speak a language of their own and few teachers would really take the time to know what that is and engage with their students at such great length.

She has spent time managing her peer tutors so that they too can build this invaluable rapport with the students. On occasion she has had to fight for this peer program with administration just to ensure that these students receive the best care possible.

She really does care about her students on a personal level and takes great pride in their development and accomplishments.

I remember when one of her students was featured on a news story for being nominated as Prom Queen by her fellow students. The pride she felt was so strong that she made sure to email all of her family the link so that we could share in this students accomplishment, she was also featured in that story as a teacher sharing how special this student is.

They are family to her and I believe she has a unique love for each and every one of her students.

Having raised 8 wonderful children of her own, Ms. Curran uses that love and compassion she has used as a mother and transfers that to her students that she works with. Ms. Curran was still a full time mom when she went back to school to get her degree and pursue teaching. Not only has she raised her own children but she has also been a second parent to several of her grandchildren as well.

Over the years has spent time upgrading her skills. For example she has taught resource, has qualified for three different other endorsements, including ESL and taught severe/profound for several years which she has used in service to kids with the most severe limitations.

She also spent a summer teaching at Dan Peterson School for the severe/profound students to get that experience.
At the age of 71 most women her age would have already retired but Ms. Curran’s dedication and love for both what she does as well as her students has meant that she has worked for more years than most.

In my culture back home in New Zealand a woman of her age that has given so much service to others would be revered highly, but unfortunately Ms. Curran has never been recognized as teacher of the year or any other public recognition while some of her younger less experienced counter-parts have received these awards and have not put in anything close to the amount of hours and mental stress that it takes for someone to genuinely teach these students, a task that I cannot comprehend and one that I believe very special people take on.

Ms. Curran spends time and effort to ensure that her special needs students are never left out or embarrassed and advocates for her students to participate in performing groups like choir and theater, which several of her students are involved in.

I feel honored to participate in this nomination of Ms. Curran as I know of no greater recipient of this recognition. I truly hope that any and all nominations you receive for Ms. Curran will help in your selection process to truly understand how valuable Ms. Curran is to teaching and in particular special needs teaching and we should be lucky to have more teachers like her.

She also just happens to be the best mother-in-law a girl far from home could ask for.

–Darlene Hawea

I’d like to nominate Mrs. Colleen Curran for your Teacher Feature. She is finishing 25 years of being a teacher of Special Needs students this year, both in the Alpine and Jordan School districts. In that time, she may have been acknowledged once as a teacher of the month for teaching Resource Students in her early years of teaching, not sure.

Now for the last seven years, she has been working with the Severe/Profound population, consisting of Down Syndrome, Autism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other severe disabilities at Riverton High School.

Many people think teachers with this population of students merely ‘babysit’ and don’t do any actual teaching. But Mrs. Curran has been noted by some administrators as actually finding ways to teach something useful in whatever ways her students can handle.

And they vary from one to another, so much that she has been heard to say that working with 15 students is like teaching in 15 different languages, where she knows all of them but they only know their own and can’t communicate with anyone else. She has had to create a curriculum for each one yearly to fit the special needs of each student. And has done so with great compassion for each one.

Colleen Curran is a teacher of amazing ability and patience. She is not only personable and loving with her students and their parents, but believes each one can learn something and progress as far as they are able, with her individualized help, the help of peer tutors and especially the help of family and parents. Her peer tutor program, which she has had to fight to keep for students to opt for in their schooling electives, has had some students coming to her each year telling her that she has influenced them to choose this as a subject of study when they go on to college.

As she completes her last year full time teaching, well past retirement age, a mother of eight who continued educating herself while also raising her own kids, and getting endorsements in ELL, Reading and others to make herself a better teacher, she has seen other less educated and qualified teachers get significant recognition from her department, some after only teaching a short time, for example. I’ve seen her passed up like this over and over, though she would never complain about feeling slighted in any way. She is never one to: toot her own horn”. She has just gone about doing her job with high levels of integrity, character and dedication to her students.
She had a Bachelor’s in Vocal Music when she started, but went through a BYU program to certify in Special Ed. She then got an MS in Special Ed from USU to enhance her credentials, while also teaching at the same time.
She doesn’t know she is being nominated nor would seek it, has a great level of humility and would never approve of anyone talking about her lack of recognition. I am a family member, but have heard that families of teachers have nominated, thus my nomination. These comments only come from my own observations, not her input in any way.

But with hopes that she might get some much deserved attention for her last 25 years of being a Special Education Teacher of the highest quality, I also share a letter from her school’s VP who certainly knows her work and praises her for it, Jim Marsh:

“Ms. Curran is an inspirational teacher. She has a rare talent for connecting with students. During the years she has been at Riverton High School she has developed a sterling reputation. In short, she is the perfect high school special needs teacher. I have been working closely with Ms. Curran as her assistant principal at Riverton High School in Riverton, Utah for the last three years. I have spent many hours observing Ms. Curran in action. She is a very dedicated teacher. Students love being in her classes. They know her room is a safe place to be where there is always someone there who cares about them. She has unlimited patience and perseverance even when she is under pressure which is quite often. She has a gentle style with people which produces remarkable results.

“Ms. Curran is unfailingly polite and considerate. She treats all students with respect. She has an obvious and sincere concern for others. I have watched her on several occasions managing difficult student/parent issues. She is a master at handling these problems with sensitivity and aplomb. I am especially impressed by Ms. Curran’s calm, quiet style, her strength of character and commitment to caring for her students. It is no surprise that she is held in high esteem by students, parents, and teachers alike. She is a champion of the students with learning challenges. She spends extra time and effort to assure that the special needs students aren’t left out or embarrassed.

“Ms. Curran is a strong advocate for involving her special needs students in main stream classes as much as possible. Her students are often involved in performing groups like choir and theater. They love being in these classes. Ms. Curran regularly attends conferences and professional development. She is a tremendous asset to Riverton High School. We have been most fortunate to have her services in our Special Education department and in our school.
“I am pleased to give Ms. Curran my highest recommendation. She is an outstanding teacher. Very few teachers in our profession have such a gift for teaching. In my 30 years in education I have rarely had the pleasure of working with a teacher of Ms. Curran’s high caliber. I would be honored to speak to anyone interested in her qualifications. Feel free to contact me at the phone number below.”

Sincerely,

James P. Marsh

–Douglas Curran

I would like to nominate Mrs. Colleen Curran; she is a Special Education Teacher for Riverton High School. She has taught school for 24 years and will be retiring this year. Colleen received her Master’s Degree in Special Education when she was raising a family of 8 children. And through the years she worked hard to continue with extra hours of continuing education classes and received many endorsements to benefit her students and teaching abilities. Colleen and her husband Doug (who for a few years was singer for ‘The Letterman’) met on the road while performing. She also was an entertainer. They both taught music and worked with musical performances at BYU Hawaii. And 10 years later moved to Orem, Utah where she continued to teach music lessons and work at her children’s schools. Because of her love for music, her students benefited greatly in her classrooms. Mrs. Curran has been working 8 years with the mild to moderate Special Needs students at Riverton High, before that she taught other Resource classes. Mrs. Curran has implemented and oversees ‘The Best Buddies Club (which is a National Organization for Special Needs Kids) at Riverton High. It’s a group of Volunteer Students who do activities with the Special Needs students during school and after school. This not only is a blessing to Mrs. Curran’s kids but also to the whole student body. She also puts in countless hours of work and time to her students that she cares and loves so much for. She is always one of the last ones out of the school because of all the reports and preparation it takes to run her classroom. But she never complains. She is amazing. She rarely misses any days of work; she knows if she is not there it would be hard on the students who have become so attached and feel safe and loved by her. Sometimes being a Special Ed. teacher goes unrecognized and unnoticed. Because of her dedication and love for the students she works most days without a break until she goes home. Throughout her 24 years of service she has never been recognized for any award or honor. Of course she would never expect it. That is why before she retires it would be an honor to her and her family and most of all to her students she has dedicated her life to throughout the years. Mrs. Curran would be so surprised if she received such an honor. Thank you so much.

–Georgia Chadwick