November 10, 2020 Hero of Education

The PUSD board, superintendent, RCMS principal and the two Heroes of Education — Jake Swartwood (tallest) and Gail Wade.

Dr. Jennifer Murphy, the new principal at Rim Country Middle School, honored two of her staff as Heroes of Education during the Nov. 9 Payson Unified School District board meeting.

Murphy recognized eighth grade language arts teacher Gail Wade and Dean of Students Jake Swartwood for their willingness to go above and beyond for students and staff.

Wade impressed Murphy with how he taught his students remotely.

“When Mr. Wade instructs, the light bulb turns on in the minds of his students,” she said.

She attributed his success to his “ability to connect students to learning.”

In his spare time, Murphy said Wade serves as the speech and debate teacher.

Wade took a leading role in the “writing across content” essays the students write each year. Since writing helps explain history, science and even math, learning how to write in classes other than English is key.

“He has taken the driver’s seat in this initiative to increase student achievement as well as collaborate with other content teachers to ensure the process is smooth and refined to perfection,” said Murphy.

Swartwood “was the first to welcome me aboard to PUSD and to RCMS,” said Murphy.

Being new to the job and starting during the summer, Murphy appreciated Swartwood meeting with her several times to answer questions she had.

Murphy learned he doesn’t go above and beyond just for her, but “he has a passion for students to be successful in their own way.”

When students needed a safe place to complete their work during the district shutdown, “he organized and executed this task quickly, and was ready to welcome students on short notice.”

Murphy noticed that Swartwood not only works well with students who don’t need extra help, but he has a way with those with special needs.

Murphy watched as Swartwood helped two non-verbal students get “settled and provided support to those students throughout the day.”

“Mr. Swartwood is a key stakeholder within our school community; he knows our families well and is constantly building relationships among the students and staff.”

Contact the reporter at mnelson@payson.com

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