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Top Utah teacher loves history

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Scott Crump has taught history and political science for 26 years, telling his students about the benefits of a free society and of past presidents.

Now the Bingham High School teacher will get a chance to meet the president of the United States himself.

A native of Copperton, raised by schoolteachers in the small mining town, Crump has a passion for teaching. That passion was recognized Friday night when he was honored as Utah's 2004 Teacher of the Year.

First runner-up was Cathy Jolley, Timberline Middle School, Alpine District, and Nancy Reed, Weber High School, Weber District, was named second runner-up. Each receives $200 cash.

"To me, that's just overwhelming," Crump said of going to Washington, D.C., to meet the president. "I just tingle to think about it."

The Jordan School District teacher, who has taught at Bingham since 1978, said teachers must get their students involved in what they are learning.

"I look at each student as candles to be lit," Crump said. "Every day when I go to school, I get to open up the door and step into any world," be it ancient Egypt or colonial America.

Each year, Crump and his students draft a bill and find a sponsor to introduce it in the Utah House of Representatives. They see it through the legislative process, from committee hearing to House vote. Some years, Crump said, the bill reaches the Senate and even has been signed by the governor into law.

"Then we get to keep the pen," he said with a smile.

Teaching is in Crump's blood. Not only were his parents teachers, but he has an aunt, uncle and brother who are educators.

The 1976 Brigham Young University graduate is also a history buff to the core. He is a member of the Utah State Historical Society, a founding member of the Riverton Historical Society and has penned two tomes about the history of Riverton.

Crump has been known to dress up as George Washington to spice up lessons about the Constitutional Convention. He's also known as a tough teacher, but is lauded for helping students understand that history is about lifelong learning, recognizing historical relevance and becoming a good citizen.

Crump has been recognized as one of Utah's best at least twice before. He is a former Utah State Legislature Educator of the Year and recipient of the Utah State Historical Society's Teacher of the Year award.

Crump also coached his students to a state championship in last year's academic decathlon.

The 2004 Utah Teacher of the Year title comes with a series of trips and prizes, including: $1,000 from the Utah Public Education Foundation; a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet President Bush; a SMART Board, a white board that doubles as a computer; and a trip to NASA's Space Camp in Alabama. Crump also will be nominated for National Teacher of the Year, and will receive a free trip to the national conference along with Teacher of the Year winners from other states.

Crump accepted his honor with humility, saying he simply represents how much caring other Utah teachers have for their students.

"I have a passion for history," he said. "The monetary rewards for being a teacher aren't great, but there are other rewards for being a teacher."

E-MAIL: gfattah@desnews.com