Monument Valley High School teacher wins excellence award

Doug Freed, a teacher at Monument Valley High School, was honored with the Utah Office of Multicultural Affairs (MCA) Excellence in Education award at the State Capitol on February 5.
The award highlights students and educators who exemplify a commitment to advancing civic engagement, embracing intercultural awareness, and facilitating change within their schools and communities.
Freed was nominated by his principal, Spencer Singer. Singer spoke of Freed’s ability to bring out the best in students and said he inspired many struggling students to excel at MVHS.
“He has a great attitude. He is an excellent role model for the kids and has helped them greatly,” Singer said.
The list of Freed’s contributions to his school and community is long. He is a language arts teacher at Monument Valley High, but he also takes care of student government, is assistant girls basketball coach, helps coordinate community events such as clothing and food drives, participates in local chapter meetings, and facilitates college trips to introduce students to higher education opportunities.
Singer said Freed has also been instrumental in improving test scores.
Teaching is not Freed’s first career. He was a newspaper editor for 35 years, so he brings the experience of that prior career to Monument Valley.
He helps students run the new bi-monthly newspaper, oversees the school yearbook, and teaches photography.
“People don’t understand how many hats teachers have to wear in small schools,” Singer said.
“He is doing tons of things for us. We want to keep him as long as we can.”
That has been a problem at Monument Valley High, which faces high teacher turnover every year.
“When you have teachers who are busting their tails and you get an opportunity like this, you want to try to recognize them,” Singer stated.
“They are worth it and you want them to be honored for all their hard work.”
Freed is reluctant to talk about himself, stressing that MVHS possesses a strong staff.
He said he didn’t want to make it seem as though he does more than others.
Freed said the goal at Monument Valley High is to grow a culture of student leaders. “Leaders become leaders essentially by helping others,” he said.
“I didn’t set out to expand multicultural awareness or anything like that,” he continued. “I have always felt enormously welcomed in this community from day one.
“It has been simple for me to want to get students to give back to their own community because it’s natural. It validates some of the things that all teachers work for.”
Freed said there are some academic challenges at MVHS, specifically in the area of English.
“Monument Valley kids don’t grow up hearing as many English words [as students in other areas],” he pointed out. “That affects reading and reading affects everything.
“We were an F school and now we’re a C school, which we are super proud about,” he said. “That’s the most important thing we’re trying to change is the academic culture.
“It’s taking hold and I can tell. The younger grades are more academically solid than the seniors the first year I was here.”
Freed said that he and his wife, who facilitates Concurrent College Courses at MVHS, are taking it one year at a time. Every year seems to be more rewarding.
He said, “I tell my kids every day that the secret to success is that you show up every day and do your best. That is what we’re going to keep on doing.”
More than 200 students attended MCA’s Multicultural Youth Leadership Day, where they heard from speakers that included Utah Governor Gary R. Hebert and Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox.
The Utah Office of Multicultural Affairs aims to promote an inclusive climate for all Utah communities and create a model state by ensuring equitable resources and services to all Utahns.
The MCA is a division of the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts.

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