ASU Educator Highlight Award for August goes to Leanna Brazel

Courtesy photo Pictured, left to right: Adams State Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Justine Schwarz; Alamosa Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Leanna Brazel; Alamosa Elementary K2 Principal Roxanne Vigil; Alamosa School District Assistant Superintendent Luis Murillo; Alamosa School District Superintendent Diana Jones; Adams State Teacher Education Program Coordinator and Advisor Chrissy McKinney; Adams State Teacher Education Program Coordinator Paul Clark; and Adams State Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Michele Mann.

AES kindergarten teacher brings STEM lessons to the classroom

ALAMOSA — Leanna Brazel puts in the work so her students can benefit. It’s why she’s pursuing a master’s degree at Adams State while teaching kindergarten at Alamosa Elementary.

Already she’s bringing in elements from her own advanced education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) into her kindergarten classroom, incorporating more hands-on learning projects that can enhance the early learning of students.

It’s that type of advanced approach to learning in the early years that caught the eye of instructors at the Adams State School of Education, who this week presented Brazel with its Educator Highlight Award. She is the eighth recipient of the monthly award that Adams State educators launched to bring attention to the outstanding work of educators across the San Luis Valley.

“I want to be the most effective teacher that I can for my students and bringing in that hands-on play learning to them is important to instruction. They really need that,” Brazel said. “For myself I’ve always been interested in the sciences growing up. It’s always been the content that I loved and so being able to bring it to them and bringing learning to life for them is really what I want for my master’s.”

Brazel follows a long line of outstanding kindergarten teachers at Alamosa Elementary, where the role is particularly critical. While most children will attend pre-school in preparation for their K-12 years, Alamosa sees a good number of its students entering kindergarten without any earlier instruction, said Alamosa Elementary K-2 Principal Roxanne Vigil.

“This is really where they learn not only their ABCs and 123s, but also how they learn kindness, where they learn how to interact with each other and collaborate, where they learn to be empathetic to others, where they learn to be helpful members of society,” Brazel said.

Brazel’s work toward her master’s degree at Adams State is evident in her classroom, Vigil said. “She’s incorporating experiments and other hands-on work, and you see a lot of growth with her class. They’re always having a great and fun time when they're learning with her.”

Earning a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in STEM will undoubtedly aid Brazel in her teaching career. More importantly for her is how her own education will help with the instruction of the young ones.

To make a nomination for the Adams State Educator Highlight Award, please fill out this nomination form.

This monthly award recognizes Adams State University School of Education alumni, prominent local teachers, and other educators working within or hailing from the San Luis Valley. In so doing, Adams State University hopes to build familiarity with the community as a serious destination for future educators.