Educator's Scholarship > Scholarship Recipients

  UCCR Educators Scholarship:  Peacebuilders of Tomorrow Award Recipients

 Congratulations, and thank you for your contributions in promoting peace and leadership in youth!





Javier Viana

North West Middle School

Salt Lake City School District


Javier Viana has worked as an educator for Salt Lake City School District for seven years. For the past two years, Viana has taught Techniques for Tough Times, a research-based, field-tested, hands-on curriculum designed to develop social and emotional learning, to students at Northwest Middle School. Viana received guidance from Leigh VandenAkker, who developed the curriculum at East High School.


Viana innovated within this curriculum by designing and implementing a student-led mediation program for schools. He trains students to resolve interpersonal conflicts using a graphic organizer and communication techniques. As a result of his guidance, students in this mediation program are able to focus on what the “real problem” is, as well as the other person’s point of view, which has led to understanding and developing empathy. By the end of each mediation session, students work collectively to figure out the “win-win” solution to their conflict. Students involved report a sense of ownership of their school and relationships, as well as increased confidence and self-worth.  Viana was honored to receive the Peacebuilder Scholarship Award funds, and plans to use them to pay student mediators for their hard work next year.



Tami Ewell

Copper Mountain Middle School

Jordan School District


Tami Ewell has been a teacher for 12 years. She currently teaches ninth grade English at Copper Mountain Middle School in Jordan School District.  Tami loves to read, travel, and go jeeping with her family all over Utah.  Last summer, Tami was able to travel with Global Education Allies to Rwanda where she worked with teachers, law students, and others at the Nyanza law school. They studied conflict resolution through the Arbinger Institute and then collaborated with the Rwandans on creating conflict resolution lessons and activities for students from elementary age to adults. They co-taught those lessons at different schools in Nyanza.  Tami was also able to teach those same lessons to her students this fall.  Tami recognizes the important role that schools play in educating students on peace building skills and she looks forward to using the scholarship to develop more collaborative projects with her students and students in other countries to further their understanding of conflict resolution and to assist them in developing a global perspective.  Tami would also like to use the scholarship to further explore is Online Dispute Resolution.  Students are very involved in social media and are in need of learning conflict resolution skills that apply to online situations.



Mrs. Leigh VandenAkker

East High School

"Techniques for Tough Times"

 Leigh M. VandenAkker is Utah’s 2012 Teacher of The Year and winner of Utah’s 2011 Golden Apple Award. She is a 2015 recipient of the prestigious Huntsman Award. As co-author of Techniques for Tough Times™, Leigh has trained teachers nationwide, providing insight and support by educating teachers in classroom management and how to teach SEL. She presented recently on “Whole Child vs. No Child” at SXSWEDU. With over 20 years experience in the educational setting, Leigh has developed strategies and techniques that really work in today’s classrooms. Designed to aid classroom teaching of communication and anger management skills, her curriculum supports the strategies for teaching metacognition. Students learn to self-advocate, have a voice and use higher order thinking skills to power through life’s obstacles. Leigh holds a M.Ed. degree as well as certifications in Special Education, Criminology and Corrections, ESL, and Conflict Resolution (communication, mediation, negotiation.) She is highly skilled in program development and coordination. Her particular expertise is with “at-risk” populations, grant proposal writing and program management. Leigh just returned from visiting the country of Brazil as a 2012 Pearson Global Scholar, where she had the unique opportunity to examine its education system. She is recognized as a consummate professional who cares deeply for students, she is a full-time public high school teacher. VandenAkker is presently teaching at East High School in Salt Lake City School District. She is currently serving on the Utah Education Association Teachers Excellence Task Force. You can find out more about her by viewing her recent TED talk.


Mrs. Heather Threlkeld

Legacy Preparatory Academy

"The Leader in Me" -Steven Covey

 Heather Threlkeld has a Bachelors Degree from Utah State University in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Masters of Art in Teaching Secondary Science with an emphasis on Biology.  She lives in Centerville, Utah and has worked for LPA since 2014.


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