MURRAY — Cindy Hanson can be found sporting an aviator's cap, safety goggles and a flowered, polyester jumpsuit, hosting a Murray High assembly as her Gilda Ratner-esque alter-ego, "Dora."
Hours later, you might find the English teacher working with social studies instructors, bridging lesson plans so students can better connect the two subjects.
In between, she might think of new ways to help students understand the value of an education for learning's sake, whether or not it can make them rich quick.
"To me, it's an important thing they understand what education can add to their lives," Hanson said. "It's constant growth and learning for me as well . . . I can't imagine anything else I'd rather be doing."
For her passion, enthusiasm and expertise, Hanson has been named Murray School District's Teacher of the Year.
"She is non-stop energy," principal Dee Jensen said. "She is animated, full time, in her classroom . . . and a great representation of what great teaching is all about."
Hanson knew she wanted to follow in her teacher-mother's footsteps by the time she hit early adolescence. Raised in a small Montana town with seven brothers, she fancied a whistle and gym shorts as a perfect career fit.
In college, Hanson majored in physical education, but added an English minor to feed her fire for reading.
Hanson started her 19-year teaching career at Payson Middle School, teaching P.E. and reading. Five years later, she transferred to Glendale Intermediate in Salt lake City School District, then to Murray's Riverview Junior High. By then, she had hung up the whistle to teach reading and writing full time.
Hanson, who has a master's degree in education with an emphasis on teaching and learning strategies, has taught nine years at Murray High. She has taught English and concurrent enrollment, in which high school students earn college credit, and has worked as chairwoman of the school's English department.
She also mentors beginning teachers and has served on the school's community council.
"She does a marvelous job bringing people together," Murray Superintendent Richard Tranter said. "She is a master teacher who understands kids, her curriculum, and puts a lot of time into making sure kids have an incredible experience in her classroom."