Award for LuAnn Brobst Staheli - The Brobst/Probst Family

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Award for LuAnn Brobst Staheli

Submitted by Bill Brobst

LuAnn Brobst Staheli of Spanish Fork, Utah, is a descendant of Robert Ellsworth, Pearl, David Ellsworth, Caleb C., Johan Jacob Jr, Johan Jacob Sr, Johannes F, Jean Michael, Philipp Jacob, Christophel, Barthel, Rudolph. LuAnn is a long time Brobst family researcher and a major contributor to the information base for our family.

She recently won the Christa McAuliff award. Our heartiest congratulations to LuAnn.

Here's the citation, From the Orem (UT) Daily Journal: "Spanish Fork teacher wins second major award By JANIS NIELSEN JOURNAL PUBLICATIONS It isn't often that lightning strikes the same place twice. And it isn't often that a small-town teacher garners two prestigious awards in the span of a few weeks. Yet LuAnn Staheli of Spanish Fork recently did just that.

Only a couple of months ago, Staheli was named Utah Teacher of the Year by the Utah Council of Teachers of English and the Utah Writing Project. Now Staheli has won the prestigious Crista McAuliffe Fellowship Award.

The McAuliffe Fellowship, named after the teacher who perished in the Challenger disaster, is a federally funded award given annually to one person in each state. Applicants vying for the award submit proposals detailing their plans for using the fellowship funds.

In her application, Staheli proposed to develop a special, innovative program that complements the new state secondary CORE curriculum in language arts. Staheli will be assembling a handbook about young adult literature for students, parents and teachers. As part of her project, Staheli will attend writing symposia and conferences to learn about new teaching methods and hear young adult authors.

For years, Staheli has had a very strong interest in current young adult literature. Now she wants to make that literature more accessible to parents, students and teachers. Staheli understands many fear the content or worry about the language or situations in contemporary books. She hopes her new handbook will dispel some of those fears.

Sometimes just a book's title will scare off potential readers. For example, one book by M.E. Kerr is titled Dinkey Hocker Shoots Smack. Rather than being about drug use, the story deals with a teenage girl who goes to drastic lengths to get the attention of her mother, who is too involved in her own projects, including saving children on heroin. The mother finally receives her awakening only after seeing "Dinkey Hocker Shoots Smack" written on a wall by her daughter.

Literature can safely expose readers to different views without having them personally go through negative experiences, Staheli said. Her handbook will let students and adults know up front what a book is about. It will feature summaries of each book and suggestions for extension activities, theme topics and discussions. It will include areas of possible concern such as language and situational content. Staheli hopes her guidebook will be used regularly by parents and those beyond the school's realm.

Staheli sees value in "hooking" students on reading early in life. In today's world, many people just don't take the time to read, she said. Students' lives have become so fragmented that it is often hard for them to find the time to read. Some struggle to learn to read; some who read well choose not to.

In her own classroom at Payson Jr. High School, Staheli has used many strategies to encourage reading. She has helped some reluctant readers in her class get started by listening to books on tape. In a program she calls "literature circles" or "literature partners," small groups around the classroom pick a book they to read together, then introduce the book to the whole group in a final presentation. Staheli often reads to her students or just piques their interest in a book by mentioning it in class. Some entire families have started reading together with Staheli's encouragement. And Staheli is especially pleased that some of her students have had articles published in local newspapers.

Students can learn many important lessons just by reading, Staheli notes. It is unfortunate some people run scared, avoiding anything that might have a controversial subject in it or deal with something in a controversial way, Staheli explains. As they read a particular book, kids can learn about decision-making as they realize that a particular character didn't make a wise choice.

Young adult literature can help students gain an understanding of other people, other lifestyles and other situations without actually having to experience them themselves, said Staheli. And research is proving that if you can get students interested in books that are contemporary, they eventually spread out to read the classics, informational texts and all sorts of things on their own, she said.

Staheli currently serves on the Utah Council of Teachers of English Board as the junior high school representative. She has worked on the textbook adoption committee as well as the initial committees that developed the new state CORE curriculum.

For the last four or five years, Payson Jr. High School has taken part in a state project called the Literacy Education Advocacy Program. As head of the English department at the junior high, Staheli has been heavily involved in developing and improving reading strategies for secondary students.

Staheli has taught English and creative writing at the school since 1984. Before coming to Utah, she taught English and psychology for five years at Rockville Junior-Senior High School in Rockville, Ind. Staheli graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in secondary education.

A Hoosier scholar, she had a four-year, full-ride scholarship to the university.

An accomplished author in her own right, Staheli has been published in Grit magazine, the Church News and Scouting magazine. She has written scripts for the Stadium of Fire and for five years edited an international newsletter for the Osmonds: Second Generation.

Staheli has submitted two fictional young-adult novels for publication and is working on a third. She has written three film scripts, one about the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Staheli is a past president of the League of Utah Writers and was president of the Utah Valley Chapter before that. She is a member of the Spanish Fork Arts Council. Staheli is married to Mike Staheli of Spanish Fork. �

This page was last updated on Monday, 21-Feb-2011 18:19:03 MST
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