ST. GEORGE — Mikey and the Mrs., hosts of Planet 105.1’s morning show, have been honoring teachers weekly with an award that has a rich history and hits close to home for the founders.
The recipients of the Best Teacher on The Planet are recognized at 8:45 a.m. every Wednesday, October through early May.
The roots of the on-air award trace back to 2006 and Chris and LaRae Nelson.
“My mom taught for over 42 years and Chris’ parents were both teachers,” said LaRae Nelson, promotions director at Canyon Media. “We know that teachers often spend a lot of their own money on their classrooms and give a lot of themselves to their classes. We wanted to honor them.”
Now in its 17th year, the process has been cemented as an important yearly tradition. Those whose lives have been affected by the teacher send letters recommending candidates. And the nominators aren’t always former students.
“We have had teachers nominate other teachers. Husbands nominate wives. We’ve had all kinds of nominations,” Nelson said. “The letters often bring the teachers to tears and are probably the most special thing that we give them.”
The promotion is personal for everyone involved, especially for radio host Mikey Foley, whose parents were both teachers.
“I know firsthand the struggles and stresses of the job,” Foley said.
According to study.com, over 90% of teachers spent money out of their own pockets in 2023, on top of teachers sacrificing their own time after hours to give their students the best education possible.
“I don’t think I ever saw my mom watch a TV show without also grading papers at the same time,” Foley said. “I feel like the Best Teacher on the Planet award is a great way to fill that gap between the difference these teachers make and the recognition they deserve.”
All weekly winners are invited to a celebration in May where four grand prizes of $1,000 are awarded. The winnings are split between the teacher and their school, among other prizes, including a 55-inch TV from BLVD Home.
“The prizes have changed throughout the years, but the goal has been the same: Honor the amazing teachers,” Nelson said.
One past recipient is Robin Lyman, a teacher at Pine View Middle School. Even though she has only been teaching for four years, she is already all too familiar with what it takes to keep her class on schedule.
“I spend a good 3-6 hours after school grading and emailing and preparing for lessons,” Lyman said. “I don’t even think I could add up how much money I have spent on my classroom over the years. My paycheck is never enough for what I spend on my students.”
Lyman’s nomination letter was sent anonymously. Her selection and subsequent prize money went right back into her classroom and students.
Part of her gift was $50 cash, which she used to buy Swig drinks for her honors classes. In May, she won the thousand-dollar prize, and she spent her share on her classroom to create a Harry Potter theme, complete with decor, books and feather quills.
“It meant the world to me,” she said.
Foley, Nelson and all involved ask the community to keep sending their nominations and give teachers the recognition they deserve.
Click here to submit a Best Teacher on the Planet nomination.
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