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Mrs. Jana Coates – North Davis Junior High School

Dear KSL Radio,
Thank you for a place to publicly express appreciation for the great teachers we have in the state of Utah. My children have had many wonderful teachers but one stands out and is deserving of special recognition.

Mrs. Coates, who teaches at North Davis Junior High in Clearfield is an amazing teacher. She has taught my children English, History, Theater, and also served as a student government advisor. For 5 years she has worked with Program Care in their after school efforts to enrich the lives of children. Together she and they put on a show called the Dinner Theater where hundreds of children have had their first opportunity to sing, dance, and act on stage. Junior High is such a difficult time in a child’s development, these kids are trying to figure out who they are while exuberantly full of energy, and hormones that they have no idea what to do with. She manages to reach out to them, teach, direct, and help them through their drama experiences, both on stage and off. I have watched her help children who are going through emotional trauma that kids this age are plagued with. She has sacrificed after school time to help children in need. Usually a group of them are hanging out in her classroom after school. She walks well the delicate balance of being an example of a responsible adult authority and a fun-loving friend.

There are those who love theater but prefer to work behind the scenes, these children receive her attention as well, learning stage craft skills that have helped many of them obtain employment. I cannot tell you the countless hours she puts into script writing, costuming, sets, sound equipment repairs, fretting over casting, smoothing out ruffled feathers, and being aware of what’s new the kids like. No budget could cover her hours…so much of this is done on her own time. I watch her productions in amazement of the magic she brings out of these children who range in age, confidence, and ability. I have observed her give each cast member a chance to shine like a star. Not only does she notice what talents children already have, she opens their eyes to other possibilities. She has taken groups of children to see live performances in the community and at the Hale Theater. All of the children she teaches get to see a beautiful world out there and inside themselves they never would have known without her.

My son, Anthony, was in her Theater class in 9th grade. She twisted his arm to try out for Dinner Theater. He was struggling with self-esteem and thought he had no talent. Because she was his favorite teacher, he gave into her pleadings and tried out. To everyone’s amazement, including his own, he sang very well and was given a major part. This experience changed his life and gave him a desire to develop talents and pursue a career in the arts. During the difficult transition between Junior High and High School, she continued to support him through a major personal crisis. I have dropped him off to talk to her when I didn’t know where else to turn. She not only enriches the lives of her students, she in a real way saves them. Teachers like this are hard to find and so needed in the world today. Thank you for the opportunity to publicly praise a teacher who has made a great difference in the lives of many children, my family, and the community. Hats off and a big round of applause to you, Mrs. Coates.

P.S.

I have enclosed a picture of the last Dinner Theater cast and a program from their performance, notice the back page and the number of students and teachers she involves both on stage and behind the scenes. Please read her director’s note it shows the way she always puts the focus on the kids rather than herself. There is also a picture of my son Anthony, who if he ever becomes a big star will owe it all to Mrs. Coates. Even if stardom is not in his future, she has helped him survive those troubled teenage years with some wonderful memories to treasure and learn from. She is the one in the bright yellow shirt, third from the right, on the bottom row of the cast picture. In her director’s note she states this is the final performance of the Dinner Theater. I hope this is not true, but if so, please recognize her for many years of dedicated service above and beyond the call of duty of a job description.

An appreciative member of your listening audience,

Nora Limb