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June Alumni Recognition: Jason Tackett

Jun 1, 2018

Jason Tackett, a special education teacher in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been named June Alum of the Month.

Tackett, who received his bachelor’s degree in Special Education from The Patton College in 2003, won the 2018 Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education, which includes a $10,000 prize. Karen Huntsman, founder and sponsor of The Huntsman Awards, informed Tackett of his award during a surprise visit to Franklin Elementary School in April.

“I love this school,” said Tackett, who has taught at Franklin since 2011. “I love the population that I get to work with.”

The Huntsman Awards, which began in 1993, recognize outstanding educators and volunteers who work in publicly funded schools in Utah. Winners are selected among nominees in four categories: teacher, administrator, volunteer, and special education teacher. Tackett, one of 11 winners, received his award at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on May 11.

After graduating from The Patton College, Tackett taught at Pikeville Elementary School in Pikeville, Kentucky, from 2003-05 and at Primary Children’s Residential Treatment Center in Salt Lake City from 2005-11. He has taught at Franklin Elementary for seven years, working with fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders with emotional and behavioral disorders.

“My approach with the kids is not to stand up above them and say, ‘This is where you need to be,’” said Tackett, who has a master’s degree in Special Education from Utah State University, “but to go to where they’re at and then we walk out together.”

Tackett develops students’ Individualized Education Program (IEP), manages the school’s Behavioral Support Unit, conducts behavioral analysis, and develops behavioral intervention plans, among other responsibilities.

His contributions to the field extend beyond the classroom. He is a certified mindfulness instructor; gave a TEDx Talk, “Reimagining Learning,” in March; and is the founder and facilitator of Resources One to Another (ROTA), a program that supports students’ positive behaviors, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships by developing and strengthening five major areas of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Franklin Elementary Principal Randy Miller called Tackett’s Huntsman Award “overdue,” adding, “I think it’s great for the teachers to see that recognition for one of their own, especially (for) Jason. He’s just that well thought of by everyone.”

This award was not Tackett’s first. He was named Utah State Board of Education (USBE) Special Education Teacher of the Year in 2015 and the Utah Council for Exceptional Children Teacher of the Year in 2018.

In his spare time, Tackett volunteers at a Salt Lake City hospice, serving as a companion to hospice patients with terminal illnesses and to those actively dying.

Tackett intends to use some of his prize money on a vacation.

“I love to travel,” he said.