By Teri Carnicelli
Ryan Norrid, whose family has lived in the North Central community for generations, has a bright and engaging smile and a winning personality. But few knew that he struggled with a learning disability.
Ryan was both encouraged and inspired by his eighth-grade teacher at St. Francis Xavier Elementary, Dan Long. As a way to both thank Long and give him the recognition he deserved, Ryan nominated Long for a Fulton Homes Teacher of the Week award.
In his nomination, Ryan wrote, “As a student with a learning disability, Mr. Long has been one of my best advocates and has encouraged me and believed in me. It is because of him that I have pushed myself harder each and every day to complete my assignments and do the best I can. Mr. Long tells all his students to follow their dreams and to never stop believing in themselves.”
Long, who teaches religion/leadership and social studies at the preschool through eighth-grade Jesuit elementary school while also coaching the flag football, basketball and baseball teams, was selected and received the Teach of the Week award and $300 in class at the end of January.
Because of that nomination, Long was chosen from all the weekly winners as Teacher of the Year. He was honored May 21 at the 13th-annual Teacher of the Year luncheon, held at Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe. He was presented with a $1,000 check by Ira A. Fulton, founder of Fulton Homes.
“Dan Long inspires his students to excel in life, both in and out of school,” said Doug Fulton, Fulton Homes CEO. “We are excited for the opportunity to give him the recognition he deserves.”
In his nomination, Ryan also wrote, “Mr. Long believes that all his students can make a difference in this world. [He] inspires his students to push harder to achieve their goals. I feel well respected while being taught in Mr. Long’s class, as I believe each and every other student does as well.”
Ryan will attend Brophy College Prep in the fall as a freshman.
Kim Cavner, principal of Saint Francis Xavier School, has known Long for many years, and said, “Dan’s students and their parents treasure him as a role model, friend, and a lover of learning. Dan is open, curious, and creatively takes on new challenges. We are extremely proud of him, and very happy he [received] this recognition.”
“This is such an honor to be named Fulton Homes Teacher of the Year,” Long said. “It’s so inspiring to see well-rounded students who reflect back what teachers instill in them every day.”
Each week’s winner was announced on Friday morning on KNIX’s Ben and Matt in the Morning Show. Teachers were nominated by students and parents.