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OUTSTANDING DISTRICT TEACHERS, SUPPORT STAFF HONORED

Leslie Shepard, Jimmie Pool, Danielle Meyers, and Terra GrayEach year, the Pueblo County Chapter of the Colorado Teacher of the Year Program honors dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled K-12 classroom educators with a Teacher of the Year Award.

Additionally, the District itself recognizes three Classified Support Staff members for their similar dedication and commitment to the District and its scholars.

On Tuesday, representatives of the Colorado Teacher of the Year Program, together with District leadership and community members, honored not only the 2020-2021 award recipients but those honored in 2020 who were unable to be acknowledged in a public reception due to the pandemic.

The reception was hosted by Dalton Sprouse, the District’s Director of Communications, with SunWest Credit Union’s Leslie Shepard – co-chair of the Pueblo County Chapter of the Colorado Teacher of the Year selection committee – presenting the award plaques to each recipient.

“It’s been said in a variety of ways that teachers don’t make an impact for a day, month, or even a year…but a lifetime,” noted Director of Communications Sprouse. “And it’s not just our teachers that create opportunities for our students on a daily basis: it’s our classified staff members as well.

“Every person in D60 is important and tonight, we’re here to celebrate the VIPs of our great district.” 

Each awardee was accompanied to the lectern by those who nominated him or her for the award: in most instances, the principal of the building where the recipient works. Chris Markert

Fittingly, the word “selfless” was the descriptor most often used to encapsulate the character of the awarded educators and support staff members.

Along with nominators, each recipient was afforded the opportunity to address the assembled gallery filled with family members and colleagues. Without fail, the awardee spent his or her time at the lectern layering words of praise and gratitude – often with their hearts on their sleeves – to supervisors, colleagues, students and family members whose unwavering support made both the moment, and a career in education, possible.

At the conclusion of the presentation of the awards, and bouquets of flowers, honorees and their guests enjoyed refreshments and the opportunity to share conversation.


2019-2020 CLASSIFIED STAFF AWARD WINNERS

PAM HOUGH, Principal’s Secretary at Centennial High School

From her nominators: “Pam performs all duties at an exemplary level. She is diligent and passionate about assigned duties and goes above and beyond. A true champion of students, she works tirelessly on her own time to create and promote achievements. Pam is always professional, calm, poised and professional.

“She is the ‘epicenter’ of the school who demonstrates leadership daily and runs a highly effective front office. She is always open to new ideas and always willing to collaborate. Pam is instrumental in putting on Hall of Fame events; organizing building usage; planning staff celebrations, meetings and events; ordering supplies and completing inventories; and running the school website while volunteering for the Centennial Foundation and for fundraisers.”

KATHY VAIL, D60 Teaching and Learning Administrative Assistant

From her nominators: “A dynamic individual who is always ready for new challenges and always carries out a task to its completion with unbridled energy. Kathy is meticulous in her work and handles all responsibilities with efficiency and professionalism. She is always willing to help colleagues with their workloads.

“Kathy assisted with the organization and planning of several district celebrations, including the Spelling Bee and the STEM Science Fair. Because of her support, these events were a huge success. Much of her work is behind the scenes, including helping with organizing field trips, coordinating student travel, producing award certificates and more. 

“When dealing with parents and students, Kathy does so with good cheer and patience, thus making student and parent interactions a positive encounter. She always shows empathy and grace and goes out of her way to give a happy face to the District.”

SHAY ROBINSON, (retired) Nutrition Services/kitchen manager at Heritage Elementary School

From her nominators: “As kitchen manager, Shay ensures, on a daily basis, that meals are prepared and served to students, whom she knows by name and with whom she develops relationships. She knows which students have food allergies, and reminds them of it. She keeps an immaculate kitchen/cafeteria and always greets everyone with a smile. 

“Shay always participates in special events and worked through the pandemic to distribute lunches. Additionally, she has been integral in reducing bullying behavior during lunchtime. As such, she gives and demands respect, and as a result, students always use manners. 

“Her strong work ethic has resulted in her being asked to train new hires. One colleague described her as ‘one of the most professional and comprehensive staff members we have ever had who always works to promote a healthy lifestyle among students.’”

2019-2020 COLORADO TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARD RECIPIENTS

COURTNEY LOCKETT, Kindergarten at Goodnight School

From her nominators: “Her effectiveness as a teacher has gained the respect and confidence of colleagues. In her classroom, students are engaged and excited to learn, because of her energy and excitement that she shows to students. Courtney believes the classroom is a safe place for everyone.

“She shows students how to handle conflict, manage emotions and problem solve. Courtney creates a sense of community, with students working in teams and helping each other. She has high expectations of students and begins each year developing rules and routines.

“Courtney is a dependable, organized and dedicated teacher who also contributes her personal time to school committees. She continues to attend sporting events, birthday parties and life events of current and former students and has served as a mentor, soccer coach and swimming teacher.”

MARCIA GRIGLAK, (retired) Kindergarten at Haaff Elementary School

From the nominators: “Marcia is warm and caring and works diligently to build a personal and positive relationship with every student and family. She sets high standards for the manner in which students are expected to conduct themselves. While her learning environment is structured and orderly, Marcia makes learning fun and engaging. 

“She guides her students toward understanding how their actions impact others. Marica implements a variety of research-based strategies into the classroom to ensure that students develop critical thinking skills. 

“Marcia motivates students by providing a balance of strong academic instruction, cultural education, and artistic and creative expression. She provides outlets for students to express themselves and creatively through her incorporation of art and music within classroom instruction.”

In her retirement, Mrs. Griglak continues to serve Haaff as a substitute teacher and in a support role for school events.

CHRIS MARKERT, P.E. at Irving Elementary School

From his nominators: “Chris is extremely thoughtful and detailed who inspires creativity in students by inspiring critical thinking. He includes rigorous science concepts in his classes and asks open-ended questions in order to guide students to make reasoned and logical decisions. He is sure to remind students that everyone has different skills and abilities that can change with time and practice.

“He motivates students to want to learn and encourages open communication and free thinking. He is enthusiastic, praises students often and recognizes them for their contributions. Chris also gives students responsibilities and tasks and encourages them to connect their learning to real life. 

“He serves as a mentor for students facing the most challenges, and those lacking a positive and consistent influence in their lives can rely on him. Chris even offers to taken on interventions when he notices a teacher is overwhelmed.”

THE 2020-21 CLASSIFIED STAFF AWARD WINNERS

CRISTEN “JO” CORDOVA, (retired) paraprofessional at South Park Elementary

From her nominators: “Cristen dedicates her time and resources to the less fortunate. As an educator, she is passionate about making sure her students learn and will differentiate her instruction methods to meet their needs. 

“She has a unique ability to bond with the students and then figure out ways to help them work around their disabilities and learn, always inspiring students to have a great day with a very caring attitude, which she displays to all. Cristen’s energy and enthusiasm for her job are first-rate. She is a positive role model and driving force in the multiple disabilities program. 

“Ever creative, Cristen always makes wonderful Father’s and Mother’s Day, Christmas and other holidays special for children.”

SANDRA MONTOYA, Preschool Teacher at Haaff

From her nominators: “Sandra has undeniable passion for teaching, and goes above and beyond for students and the Haaff community. She has a strong work ethic, stressing high standards for creating a culture of acceptance and respect.

“Sandra makes every second count and continually builds new ideas outside of the classroom and during summer break. She is always willing to be involved in important school-wide decisions and volunteers with family involvement events and school beautification.

“She stresses a creative/hands-on approach to teaching, with classroom areas for building/creating, dressing up, pretend play, art projects, small group academic learning tables and a welcoming whole group carpet.

“Students say, ‘She just doesn’t teach us, she cares. She always finds a way to make us feel like we were part of her family and an important member of the classroom. When we’re sad, she makes us happy.’”

ALEX GARCIA, (retired) custodian at Columbian Elementary School

From his nominators: “Because of Alex, the school shines from top to bottom, and always has during his 30-year career. He takes pride in his work and treats the school like his own home. He arrives early on snow days to ensure sidewalks and entrances are clean, and he always exceeded COVID safety precautions.

“Alex is intelligent, responsible, hardworking, enthusiastic and respectful. He illuminates kindness, respect, compassion and traditional manners daily. He has served as an adopted grandfather to current and past students for 30 years. He always maintains a positive relationship with everyone and judges no one. 

“He truly believes in the saying, ‘If you want to play hard, you have to work hard’ and practices what he preaches.

THE 2020-21 COLORADO TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS

DANIELLE MEYERS, Third Grade, Columbian 

From the nominators: “Danielle has a passion for her job and kids like no other. She works late almost every day and works weekends to make sure her students get the best instruction they can. She is always thinking about the next project or idea to bring to class. She has created an environment that promotes kindness, hard work and perseverance.

“Danielle supports students academically as well as social/emotionally, and build relationships with them – showing them how much they matter and how much she cares – which enables her to reach more children.

“Outside of the classroom, she has displayed her leadership and compassion by leading Student Council and taking part in many community projects, including clean-ups, and coat drives.”

KIM O’CONNOR, P.E., Bessemer Academy

From her nominators: Affectionally known as “Kim in the Gym,” she is “highly motivating, with inclusive and engaging lessons, virtually and in classroom. Her students always leave with a positive and encouraging message from her.

“She creates Healthy School atmosphere with fun activities. Her students learn about smart eating, how their bodies work, and the importance of exercise.

“Kim supported an inclusion campaign by creating lessons based around disability awareness and the Paralympic Games. She is the epitome of a team player, supporting all classroom teachers in content areas and extending health lessons into the STEM curriculum.”

MELINDA NADLER, formerly of PAA and now teaching in St. Louis

Prior to the start of the school year, Melinda moved to St. Louis, where she is continuing to teach students.”