Tackling the daily challenges of teaching all the core subjects to special-education students at Granger High School is what inspires Beckey Carson to work so hard at her craft.
Her peers took notice of her dedication and determination, nominating her for the Utah Education Association Excellence in Teaching award. Carson was one of 10 teachers in the state who were recipients of $1,500 courtesy of the Arch Coal Foundation at the Superstars in Education banquet in October.
"I feel so humbled," Carson said about the award. "They pick out 10 educators out of maybe 80,000 UEA members, so it is a very humbling experience."
With more than 18 years at Granger, Carson is a mainstay on campus and has the responsibility to teach all subjects, from health to U.S. and world history, to special-education students at the West Valley City school. She also goes above and beyond teaching as she write grants to enrich her students' learning, and that effort doesn't go unnoticed by school administration.
"She does a great job of getting grants from different areas to help students with their needs," said Granger High principal Jerry Haslam. "She is also one of the first teachers here in the morning and then the last one to leave at night."
Most people outside the classroom would view teaching special-education students as an additional challenge to a teacher, but Carson fell in love with the students right from her first job as a teaching assistant in a self-contained classroom nearly 30 years ago. It was that moment she knew where she wanted to be as a teacher. Her feelings for her students haven't waned over the years.
"I absolutely love it," Carson said. "I can't imagine teaching any other population.
The students realize that they have certain learning disabilities, but they are confident they can overcome the stigma with help and they come to class wanting to learn, according to Carson.
Karen Newton, who has worked with Carson for 20 years, knows that one of her colleague's best strengths is her willingness to listen to students and make a connection.
"Her students know that they can go to her for anything because of her willingness to listen," Newton said of Carson. "I often told her that she should put a couch in her classroom because it seems that everyone goes in to talk to her because she is such a good listener."
Observing her students give it their all to overcome their challenges makes it all worth it for Carson.
"Watching them overcome challenges and their willingness to try is rewarding," she said. "It also makes you really appreciate what you have in life."