I would like to nominate my wife, Kari Bennett, for her tireless efforts to bring the out the best in her High School and College jewelry students. Because of Kari, Hillcrest High School has one the premier silversmithing programs in the state; a program which Kari has built and maintained entirely on her own over the past 14 years, adding equipment and materials a little at a time each year as her small budget permits, and sometimes paying for things herself.
Jewelry is a very labor-intensive subject to teach; helping students with solving the many technique and design problems is difficult in the short time allotted (and I know, because I substituted for her for several weeks while she was on maternity leave with our 3rd child, and her classes really keep you running!) Her classes are popular, with class sizes often over 30 students, and so Kari must bring projects, papers, and quizzes home on her own time to grade them. This she does because she takes pride in her student accomplishments and truly beams when she can show me a well-made pair of earrings, pendant, or ring from one of her students. In recent years, Kari and her students have produced enough quality work in silver to run a sale a couple of times a year to support the arts program at Hillcrest.
Her students have won multiple awards in local and state art competitions, and leave her wonderful notes about how much they love her class and appreciate her help with their projects. Her reputation as a great jewelry teacher who really knows her field, and cares about her students has newly developed into an opportunity to teach silversmithing at Salt Lake Community College, where interest in jewelry design and creation is growing by leaps and bounds.
Kari is so giving, even taking on community education classes on her few spare evenings for local church groups, that I would love to see her receive the praise she so richly deserves.
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