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Park City Education Foundation honors 'best of the best' with Excellent Educator awards

Students at Parley's Park Elementary School cheer for their teacher, LeAnn Rocchi, after she wins the Excellent Educator award.
Grace Doerfler / KPCW
Students at Parley's Park Elementary School cheer for their teacher, LeAnn Rocchi, after she wins the Excellent Educator award.

The Park City Education Foundation recognized nine individuals through the PCEF Excellent Educator Program this year. Winners were surprised Friday morning, April 26.

With fanfare from the high school marching band, bouquets of flowers and plenty of hugs and applause, nine educators received awards as Park City’s “best of the best.”

Park City Education Foundation members traveled from school to school around the district Friday morning to celebrate the teachers’ accomplishments. The Louis and Doilney families, who sponsor the awards, joined the foundation to honor the winners.

The morning began at Park City High School, where there was a tie for the first time in the award’s history: science teacher Gaylynn Mooney and special education teacher Holly Huggins were both honored.

The Excellent Educator award runs in the Huggins family: Holly’s mother, Laura, won the award as a teacher at Treasure Mountain Junior High.

“It’s a thousand times more incredible to see my daughter win it than it was for me,” Laura Huggins said.

Also at Park City High, science teacher Ed Mulick won the Sarah and Stephen Doilney Award, which is based on nominations from the senior class for most influential educator of their years in the district – it’s the fifth time he’s won.

Teachers nominate their colleagues for each year’s award, and winners got to hear their coworkers’ praise as their names were announced. None of the winners knew ahead of time they would be honored.

Linda Hilton, the winner at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School, has been teaching fifth grade for more than 40 years.

“I’m just delighted and surprised and so happy,” she said.

Superintendent Jill Gildea said it was a festive morning all over the district.

“What I love the most is that families got invited to support the nominee,” she said. “At the last school we were at, I was standing with the students, and the students in the elementary band said, ‘That’s our teacher and we would nominate her,’ which is such a fun acknowledgment of our teachers’ successes.”

Park City Education Foundation CEO Ingrid Whitley said celebrating at each school was a privilege.

“I know how much heart and soul and time goes into being an amazing teacher, and these teachers really exemplify that,” she said.

The PCEF Excellent Educator Program has given awards every year since 1996.

The Excellent Educator award recipients for the 2023-24 school year are:

  • Jen Hales, Ecker Hill Middle School
  • Linda Hilton, Jeremy Ranch Elementary School
  • Daniel Wells, McPolin Elementary School
  • LeAnn Rocchi, Parley’s Park Elementary School
  • Gaylynn Mooney and Holly Huggins, Park City High School
  • Casey Ryan, Treasure Mountain Junior High School
  • Eva Montejano, Trailside Elementary School