SALT LAKE CITY — A fourth-grade teacher at a Salt Lake City school earned Teacher of the Year honors by the Utah Afterschool Network.
Anna Sagan with Dual Immersion Academy has a special connection with her students.
As a child, she came to the United States as a refugee from Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union. Now she teaches at a school where many students are learning English as a second language and are trying to find their footing in a new country.
“I was also an English language learner. I came here at six and didn't know even one word of English,” said Sagan. “I show them, I struggled with this — let's do this together.”
Sagan is in her third year of teaching. The honor she received recognizes the work she does after the bell rings at 3 o’clock.
“I stay after school until they kick me out,” Sagan said. “I have volunteered my whole life, so I don't think of it as something I need to get paid.”
The director of Dual Immersion Academy confirmed it is difficult getting Sagan to leave the school’s campus.
“She is here until 6 p.m. We do have to kick her out,” said Angela Fanjul, director of Dual Immersion Academy. “That’s how she got involved in afterschool, because if you're in the building, let's have you do something.”
Fanjul believes Sagan's efforts make a significant impact on the children.
“Some of our kids show up at 7:30 a.m and leave at 6:00 p.m. at night. We are the most consistent place in their life,” Fanjul said. “That's nothing against their parents — their parents are working hard.”
In addition to teaching, Sagan works to inspire and motivate the children to reach for their full potential.
“We want them to be successful. We want them to know you can go to Harvard,” Sagan said.
The Utah Afterschool Network works to promote high-quality programs to encourage more learning and positive experiences even when school isn’t in session.
“A lot of the emphasis that these programs put and the support they give to kids is on academic enrichment and helping them out with their overall social skills and mental well being,” said Ben Trentelman, Executive Director of the Utah Afterschool Network.
Parents looking for a program for their children can CLICK HERE.