Mrs. Joni Willis – Pleasant Green Elementary

Sep 23, 2008, 4:30 AM | Updated: Feb 25, 2019, 3:28 pm

I am very pleased to nominate Joni Willis for your Teacher Feature award. There are many excellent teachers in our schools; however, I believe that it takes a very extraordinary person to be a special education teacher. Mrs. Willis is a special education teacher who taught my son at both Meadow Moor Elementary and Upland Terrace Elementary. Currently she teaches at Pleasant Green Elementary in Magna. My son has autism and when he was placed in Mrs. Willis’ classroom, he required one-on-one teaching in order to learn. Mrs. Willis was very patient and compassionate and was very willing to adapt her teaching environment and approach to match my son’s needs. Over the four year period of time that she taught my son, he was able to reach many amazing milestones. Within a relatively short period of time he was able learn in small group settings rather than the one-on-one teaching. She not only cared about my son’s academic education, she really cared about his well being and often initiated other teaching programs such as a safety program when she noticed that my son would benefit from it. My son has limited language and he is not able to tell me about his day at school. Mrs. Willis provided daily home notes telling us about our son’s day in school so we would know how he was doing and what was going on. She took time out of her schedule to make personal phone calls to us when she was excited about something he did or accomplished at school. She truly loves the children that she teaches and takes a personal interest in each one of them.

This year was my son’s first year of junior high. In my experience, every parent of a child with autism is terrified of their children leaving elementary school and attending junior high. Mrs. Willis was very aware of my apprehension and instigated transitioning my son to his new school several months before he completed 6th grade. Early on she contacted the special education coordinator for Granite School District to solicit her help in making my son’s transition as smooth as possible. She even took an afternoon off from her classroom and took my son to his new school to familiarize him with the school and his new teachers. She introduced him to the “noisy” lunch room to make sure he would be able to handle that environment as well. When he started junior high, she prepared what she called a dictionary that contains explanations of some of my son’s behaviors and phrases and what they mean to help his new teacher know what he is needing or saying. Most amazingly, she arranged to have her classroom teaching assistant go to school with my son for the first few days of school to help him adapt to the new environment. Due to the many wonderful things she taught my son as well as the care she provided him, the transition to junior high was seamless. His new teacher loves having him in her classroom and he is thriving in his new environment. I know this is due in large part to Mrs. Willis and the extra care and time she took with my son. She was just as amazed as us by his potential for growth and she always strived to push him to reach it. The needs of a child with autism, especially in a school environment, are so great; I cannot list everything she did for his benefit. She will always hold a special place in our hearts for the unconditional love she showed him. I cannot think of a more deserving teacher than Mrs. Willis for this award.

Candi Miller

Today’s Top Stories

Teacher Feature

Emily Ashmead

Teacher Feature is back in session

After what felt like an extended summer vacation, KSL's Teacher Feature program is back in session. This year's Teacher Feature primary sponsor is Burt Brothers Tire & Service. The company has been involved with Teacher Feature for more than ten years, and says they are appreciative of a way to give back. 
1 year ago
Emily Ashmead

Mark Landeen, South Jordan Middle School

The following was submitted by JR Landeen. “I know it may seem weird that I am nominating my own father but I truly believe he is deserving of this award. I was never his student in the classroom or even attended his school but I know what kind of teacher he is. I remember growing […]
3 years ago
Emily Ashmead

Janie Lauritzen, Welby Elementary

The following was submitted by Jon P. Lauritzen. “Janie Lauritzen has taught kindergarten at South Jordan’s Welby Elementary for 19 years. She’s that special teacher that has parents jockeying with the school administration to make sure their children get into her classes. Over the years, she has taught children with learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and […]
3 years ago
Emily Ashmead

Jen Lightfoot, Viewmont Elementary

The following was submitted by Emily Chandler. “This year my child was diagnosed with Rheumatic fever in early September. Rheumatic fever is a rare disorder and a noncontagious acute fever marked by inflammation and pain in the joints. It chiefly affects young people and is caused by a streptococcal infection. Rheumatic fever will go after […]
3 years ago
Emily Ashmead

Shanalee Sadler, Alta High School

The following was submitted by Shana Davis. Shanalee Sadler is a special education teacher at Alta High School. She has been my son’s teacher for the past 3 and a half years. My son has autism and is a senior at Alta High School. Mrs. Sadler has gone to great lengths to teach my son […]
3 years ago
Emily Ashmead

Alice Erickson, Willow Canyon Elementary

The following was submitted by Amourette Bradley. “Have you ever had a teacher that stood above the rest? What if thirty years later, your child shared that same teacher? And what if he or she proved not only as extraordinary as you remembered, but even more so? Alice Erickson is that most extraordinary teacher. Many […]
3 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Mrs. Joni Willis – Pleasant Green Elementary