2014 Janice Voorhies
Bingham High School celebrated the 78th annual performance of the Christmas Candlelight Program on December 16, 17, 18, 2014. Since 1937 students at our school have been participating in this annual Christmas festival of lights and music. Since 1976 it has been tradition to honor someone of this program who has contributed outstanding service to Bingham High. This award is known as the Candlelight Service Award and was first presented to Joel P. Jensen, the Bingham High music teacher who started the Candlelight tradition.
This year the award was given to Janice Voorhies, a former Bingham High School English teacher. Mrs. Voorhies was raised in numerous places all across the United States as her father was an officer in the Air Force. In the 1960s as time came for her to go to college, her father was determined to send her to a college that was safe from all the demonstrations and violence that beset college campuses during the Vietnam War. So she attended Brigham Young University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1968, majoring in English Education and minoring in Spanish, Business, Religion (required), Psychology, and Music. While at BYU, she worked for the Daily Universe (the campus newspaper) and developed a love for the written word. Plus, she stated that surpassing her initial expectations, she also received an excellent education.
Her first job was at Lehi Junior High, but it only lasted a year, as she got married, then pregnant. In those days women more than 5 months pregnant were not allowed in the classroom. So over the next 20 years she took time off to raise her family of eight children–six sons and two daughters. She remarked that the choice to have children was and continues to be the finest experiences of her life. The value that she places on her own children later spilled into her classroom and was the foundation for the value and concern that she had for the children of others.
She began teaching again the year her youngest son went to kindergarten. Ironically, she was hired in 1989 at Midvale Junior High – the same school where she student taught many years before. Two years later a neighbor, Loftin Harvey– who taught English at Bingham High, encouraged her to apply there, so she did. She was hired at Bingham to teach regular junior English and advise the school newspaper staff. Her first year required an enormous learning curve. She loved the junior English curriculum, but the computers they were just starting to use to do layout for the Prospector baffled her. She sought out the most savvy computer kid in the class, and she taught him to write while he taught her to use a computer. She stated that it was a very successful symbiotic relationship!
Over the years she would teach regular junior English, junior honors English, Technical Writing, Journalism, AP language (very briefly), senior college-prep English, and her favorite—concurrent enrollment English 1010. She always loved writing, and despite the fact that 1010 required literally hundreds of hours of reading and responding to essays, she knew that learning to write a thoughtful, balanced argument was the key to success in college, no matter what major a student chose. More importantly to her personally was the fact that those essays were a window into student experiences and thinking. She has long believed the more people understand about another person and his/her life, the more likely they are to respect and admire them. She feels lucky to have known and worked with so many extraordinary students over the years.
At age 50 she accomplished a lifetime goal by earning a Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Westminster College in 1996. In 2003 she became one of the first eight Utah teachers to become National Board Certified. She has been awarded the PTA Teacher of the Year in 1993-1994, SLCC’s 2003 Outstanding Concurrent Enrollment Instructor of the Year, Presidential Scholar Teacher of the Year, Sterling Scholar Outstanding Teacher Award, and the UEA Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008. Additionally, she has served as the State High School Journalism Association President, Co-Chair of the Deseret News Minority Mentoring Project, highlighted in the Deseret News/ UEA “Why I Teach” campaign (which included her brief essay on the annual calendar and a television commercial), the Chairman of the Bingham Advisory Committee, long-time supporter of JEA, and head of many of their committees. She has had a couple of essays published in the Deseret News, plus pieces in Utah Business, The Ensign, The Friend, and Utah Holiday magazines.
Her educational philosophy has three goals:
1. Help students embrace the joy of learning.
2. Teach students the skills they need to become life-long learners.
3. Don’t damage students (through ridicule, sarcasm, labeling, or name- calling) while working towards Goals One and Two.
She believes teaching is about people. Teachers are the professionals who pass on to the next generation not only our society’s cumulative skills and knowledge, but the foundations of our culture, values, and traditions. She has always felt that what she and her colleagues do everyday matters on a scale far beyond their classrooms. There is no better job in the world. After retiring from the classroom in 2012, Janice would be elected to the Jordan School District Board of Education in 2012, a position in which she still serves.
Janice married B. James Voorhies and they have eight children: Leah Voorhies, Mark P. Voorhies, James S. Voorhies (deceased), Benjamin N. Voorhies, David S. Voorhies, Michael E. Voorhies, Rachel Pommerening and Nathan W. Voorhies. She and her husband are the proud grandparents of 23 grandchildren–9 boys and 13 girls. She remarked that eight of her grandchildren are 3 and under, so she has toys everywhere!! She has often thought of getting a license plate holder which would say “MY GRANDCHILDREN ARE SMARTER THAN I AM!” She loves to read, write, cook, eat, travel, sew, garden, and laugh.
For her outstanding service to Bingham High School, we are happy to present the 2014 Candlelight Service Award to Janice Voorhies.