By Christine Yee
Photo gallery here: https://brightonbengals.org/photos/paul-otterstrom-brighton-teacher-of-the-year/
Despite social distancing guidelines, Brighton’s Teacher of the Year didn’t have to celebrate the good news alone this morning.
Mr. Paul Otterstrom, Brighton’s woodworking teacher, appeared shocked when he opened the door and saw Principal Tom Sherwood, Assistant Principal Marielle Rawle, and CTE Coordinator Lisa Prudden standing in front of his house with an announcement poster.
Then when dozens of his co-workers, students, and friends drove by–honking their horns and shouting “congratulations!” and “you deserve it!”–Otterstrom wiped tears from under his glasses and waved back with a big grin across his face.
He laughed and commented, “it’s April Fools Day!”
Mr. Otterstrom teaches woodworking, woodturning, guitar making, and furniture design. He is “passionate about his subject area and creates a welcoming place for all students that enter his classroom, encouraging them to investigate woodworking and develop their talents,” Brighton administrators wrote in his district nomination.
One student commented that they love the safe, positive atmosphere and when Mr. Otterstrom sings Happy Birthday opera-style. Another student said Mr. Otterstrom taught them to persevere through hard times because “mistakes are only opportunities for new designs and progress.”
Otterstrom also advocates for his peers as a Canyons Education Association leader.
In closing the nomination says: “Driven by his passion for carpentry and his desire to give each student a place to create, each time you enter his classroom, you not only see his students hard at work sanding, drilling, and sawing as they shape their projects, but you also see students that are being shaped by
a teacher who cares.”