Denece Kitto moved to Monument Valley In June 2020 to accept the role of principal after serving in a variety of educational and state capacities. She has taught in elementary, secondary and higher education, with a heart for her Native American students and colleagues. She first came to the Navajo Nation to set up a tutoring program in a community center and visited a boarding school where the children left a lasting impression. Later, she worked for the State of Utah in the Division of Housing and Community Development where the Ethnic Offices and Navajo Revitalization were housed, and later as an assistant to former Lt. Governor, Gayle McKeachnie, who served Governor Jon Huntsman over Rural and Indian Affairs.
She accepted her most recent position just as the pandemic hit. Due to the lack of internet and the fierce grip of grief, students received minimal education. Denece, her staff and faculty at Monument Valley High School took advantage of students learning at home and oversaw a project for students to interview their elderly. This turned into the book called Hozho- A Walk In Beauty where parents and elders in the Dine' community provide advice to their children and tell stories of their childhood. This book is currently being sold to provide educational scholarships for students in Monument Valley.
Learn More and Purchase Hozho- A Walk in Beauty
Ranee Cly is a Navajo woman from Oljato, a beautiful peaceful reservation located in the famous Monument Valley, Utah. She graduated from Monument Valley High School, continued her education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstafff. In 2010, she decided to pursue more education and attended Kaplan College to complete her billing and coding diploma.
Growing up in Monument Valley and experiencing city life, Cly was able to gain insight into how different the two living situations are. On the reservation, water was not available from a faucet and had to be filled from a windmill into a barrel. Cly was raised by her grandparents while her mom lived in the city and wored. Her grandmother shared stories about the traditional upbringing she gave her own children. For example, she would use the stars to tell the season and weather changes. She would also get up early in the morning before the sun rose and pray to the dine (god) and often said if you wanted to be blessed with many fortunes then you needed to get up early and pray.
The Hozho book has those stories and other messages that the students on the reservation grew up hearing. The elders were proud of their lifestyles and didn’t need more. Their survival teachings gave them strength and cultural understanding that all things in life have a meaning.
Jason Quinn has been illustrating freelance for more than 20 years and his body of work covers everything from Magazine illustrations to children's books, product design to album cover art. His most recent passion has been murals created specifically for public schools and communities with an emphasis on literature and educational appreciation.
As the husband of a veteran teacher, he developed an interest in his wife's contributions as an educator and finally decided that elementary education looked like fun. He returned to school, obtained his teaching certificate and now enjoys teaching with his wife in Monument Valley. He’s taught 4th grade, 5th grade and is currently right at home as the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Art Specialist, where the students agree that he’s their favorite teacher.
Misty Cly is a Navajo veteran from Oljato, Utah, a small community located on the Navajo Reservation in Monument Valley, Utah. She served in the US Navy for three years NCIS, and then 17 years as a civilian. Misty returned to Monument Valley, determined to influence the educational mindset of students. She's worked in both elementary and secondary capacities. Misty currently serves as a school counselor at Monument Valley High School and markets the Ho’zho’ book to provide scholarships to graduating seniors, as another way to give back to her community. Misty received her Bachelor’s in Human Resource Management and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in school counseling from Liberty University. She is committed to helping students Walk In Beauty, as taught from Navajo Elders in the book, with a goal to help every student become college ready.
Loretta McClure is a Special Education teacher for students with moderate-severe disabilities at Westlake High School in Alpine School District. She graduated from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Deaf Studies. She has been teaching for 6 years in a Life Skills classroom.
McClure created the Unified Champion School (UCS) philosophy at Westlake and is heavily involved with the Special Olympics through their youth leadership programs and Unified Sports program. She coaches a variety of Unified Sports and was thrilled when her teams recently brought home a Unified State Championship in basketball and soccer. One of the most rewarding aspects of McClure’s career has been watching the Unified Sports program explode at her school, creating a culture of whole school engagement in all three of the components of a UCS. Westlake High School was recently honored as a Unified National Banner Champion School; a huge accomplishment.
Growing up, McClure lived in and out of foster care, became homeless on various occasions, and went through countless horrific experiences that no child should ever go through. Although raised on the streets of New York City and Los Angeles, she found her home in Utah where she raised her 4 children. Due to her upbringing, she has become a fierce protector of those who are often classified as peculiar or different. She demands equality in and out of the classroom. She is a fierce advocate for people of all ages to get an education; especially in their later years. Her life motto is to never give up by always moving forward.
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Carla Bedingfield is the Adapted PE teacher and a Unified Coach for Wasatch High School. Her husband Andy and two sons are a huge support and bring so much joy to her life. Her role as teacher and coach has been a great asset in providing unique opportunities for all students. She enjoys coaching soccer, basketball and track, but her love would be basketball. The Wasatch High Unified team was selected recently to participate in the USA Games hosted in Florida this past summer and took home bronze.
Carla also plays a role in mentoring the High Schools "We are One" club to provide leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities by promoting inclusion throughout the school through various activities outside of just sports. Special Olympics has been a wonderful organization to work with and their values of inclusion and sport are what drew her to become an active participant.
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Shad Larson was born in rural Arizona and is the youngest of five children. He spent most of his weekends and summers working on the family ranch and hay farm. He graduated from BYU where he received a bachelor's degree in 2014 and then a law degree in 2018. He has been married to McCall Larson since August 2015 and has an extremely energetic 2 1/2 year old boy named Everton. Shad loves playing and watching sports, especially soccer, so much so that his son is named after his favorite team from England. He enjoys providing service and giving to others in need.
The Show Up for Ukraine project sparked his interest because, like most people, he watched the news and felt hopeless and dejected with what was happening.The drive gave him an opportunity to provide the people of Ukraine just a small amount of help. He first called his family in Arizona and had them contribute money and then took his son to the store and bought everything he could to add to the drive. This did not feel like enough so he volunteered to attend the drive and signed up for a shift. After working his shift and still seeing mountains of supplies left to be sorted he stayed for hours more helping move, sort, and catalog all of the supplies throughout the day, simply treating it like another day on the ranch bucking hay. The highlight of the day was actually finding some of the stuff he bought with his son and just the feeling that he did the best he could in that moment to help out others.
Dirk lives in Utah with his wife Suzette and 4 mostly-grown children. He is an entrepreneur involved in projects including Provo High football, commercial real estate and the Melting Pot Restaurant downtown in Salt Lake City.When war broke out in Ukraine, Dirk, like so many others, felt compelled to help. He connected with a friend who had gone to Krakow, Poland to ferry refugees from the Ukrainian border and provide shelter and travel on their journey to more permanent destinations.
Within two weeks, Dirk booked a flight, rented a van and was driving through Easter Europe. Utah First Lady Abby Cox connected with Dirk and he was able to deliver several thousand of the letters she had received from Utah school children directly to Ukrainian children as the came across the border to safety.
Dirk made two trips to Krakow and built a great respect for the bravery of the Ukranian people and for the generosity of other good people from all over the world who came to help Ukraine. Currently Dirk serves on the advisory board for Reach Humanity, a non-profit that operates in Krakow and continues daily work with Ukrainians in need.
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Rachel Garrett is a former high school teacher, licensed foster parent, and CASA. Rachel has a psychology graduate degree in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis on how trauma impacts brains and behaviors. She has spent the last decade of her life working and caring for teens in various capacities. This year, she founded Common Thread, an organization that serves over 600+ youth ages 12-19 who have been impacted by trauma. She is a mother to two young children and a bonus mom to multiple teenagers she loves as her own.
Carson Garrett works in Utah tech and software at MX technologies. He has a Graduate Degree in Information Systems and works with companies all over the world. He is an entrepreneur at heart and has started many small side businesses. He is the founder of NutriKid, a health and wellness company for kids. He is a licensed foster parent and father of two. He enjoys spending time with family in the outdoors.
The latest trauma research reveals healing and recovery from trauma to be impossible without lasting, caring connections to others. As a teen foster family, the Garrett Family saw many of the teens they love begin falling through the cracks after reunification. Common Thread is an organization they founded in May to create a trauma-informed, fun, and connected space to support teenagers’ healing journeys. Common Thread provides an inclusive community, resources, safety, and connection for teens who have been impacted by the foster care system and/or other forms of childhood trauma. In the last six months, Common Thread has served over 600 youth, provided 25 free events in the community, offered a 6-week group therapy session, and unified an incredible team of 80 community volunteers.
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