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Svetlana Winward – Mountainville Academy

Rarely in one’s journey on this planet do we find/associate/learn from someone as extraordinary as Svetlana Winward.

Svetlana, originally from Russia has an incredible story that makes our burdens seem insignificant, and one that makes her a teacher of life skills as well as academics. At the time of her first trip to America, Svetlana had it all as a very successful educator and businesswoman in Russia. She and her young son determined to make a trip to Disneyland for some time away. Little did she know that following weeks would change her life forever.

During their flight to Orange County California, Svetlana came down with pneumonia, forcing a emergency landing in Salt Lake City. After an extended hospital stay, Svetlana and her son set off to pick up where they left off. Since Svetlana had not returned to Russia as expected, all of her personal funds were “locked down” or frozen. Without money, they found themselves homeless in Salt Lake City, in February, without funds to return home. Through a series of remarkable problem solving and miracles, Mrs. Winward found kindness from an LDS ward, and was able begin rebuilding her life here in Utah.

With much effort, humility, and persistence, Svetlana has adapted to her new life here in Utah. She now teaches 2nd grade at Mountainville Academy in Alpine, where she is an amazing teacher. She instills in her students a desire to find strengths within themselves, while learning to watch for virtues in others. She has a cheer for every complimentary word you can think of, and encourages the children to congratulate each other for being “awesome” or “amazing”. Her unique life experiences provide the children with perspectives on the world that you don’t often see in Utah. The children in Mrs. Winward’s class love her, and you can always tell that she loves them too. How lucky our second grader is that many years ago, a plane dropped Svetlana Winward off in Salt Lake City!

-Brooke (daughter of Greg & Samantha) Collier