Athlos Academy wishes to clone award-winning teacherOct 01, 2022 06:38PM ● By Jet Burnham
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Stacy Tonozzi, a fourth grade teacher at Athlos Academy of Utah, a K-9 public charter school in Herriman, is one of two recipients of this year’s Athlos Distinguished Educator Award. Jo Whittaker, assistant principal at Athlos Academy of Utah, explained why Tonozzi’s colleagues nominated her for this award.
“She truly is one of the greatest humans I've ever met in my life, professionally and personally,” she said. “I wish I could clone her and make a million of her.”
Tonozzi, who has been teaching for 15 years, came into teaching through a nontraditional pathway. She spent several years in special education and intervention classrooms after her involvement in developing her own children’s IEPs to ensure their academic needs were met.
She continues to use the techniques she learned to teach every student, no matter their abilities, learning style or language.
“She is able to spot students that need intervention, she gets them quickly assessed and then she puts in place these rigorous, individualized interventions for each one of the students,” Whittaker said.
Tonozzi believes in using all sensory modalities to teach a lesson so that students access information auditorily, visually and physically.
“Not every student is on the same page or on the same level, so I really try to focus on how we can teach a whole class as a whole on all these different levels where it's engaging for everybody,” she said.
Tonozzi, who is also a professional artist, photographer and graphic designer, said hands-on activities are her favorite tool.
“I think anything that you can get hands-on, it just wraps around their brains better, and they're actually doing the work themselves instead of just listening to somebody do the work,” she said.
She has had a lot of success using games to help students strengthen their math skills.
“I love working with dice and cards in mathematics because that gives them number fluency and they don't know that they're really working on number fluency, they just think that they're having fun,” she said.
Tonozzi informally mentors colleagues who want to incorporate hands-on activities into their lessons. When a teacher has a question or a challenge, Whittaker said she often refers them to Tonozzi.
Tonozzi is goal-driven and encourages growth in others.
This year, she set incentives to encourage students to practice math skills with an online game. Within the first three weeks of school, students in the two fourth grade classes had completed 20,000 math equations and had earned a pizza party as a reward.
“When those that she teaches and works with excel, she radiates brighter than the sun, not because of the work she has put in, but because of the work that her students have put in to accomplish goals,” Whittaker said.
Tonozzi values her colleagues and students and looks for opportunities to encourage and uplift them. She often leaves a positive note for a colleague who is having a rough day or for a student who has worked hard to overcome a challenge.“She just pops a card in front of them, and that little ‘thank you’ or that little ‘you're awesome’ that's been noted, it brings somebody from the dark into the light,” Whittaker said. “Everybody needs that pat on the back when you've done something good, especially with the roughness in the world r