Cheri Jones is Educator of the Year


ALAMOSA — Fifteen educators from around the Valley walked home Wednesday night being recognized for work that often goes unnoticed. Yet during the 32nd Annual San Luis Valley Outstanding Education Recognition Banquet, the San Luis Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) gave Alamosa School District's Cheri Jones the top honors of being the Outstanding Educator of the Year.

Before the awards ceremony held at the Rodeway Inn began, Kimba Rael, last year's winner, spoke about qualities that teachers need. It became the topic of the speech because when she met with other award-winning teachers she was surprised that they referred to it in the present tense.

"They said that once you are a teacher of the year you are always a teacher of the year," said Rael. "The qualities don't go away."

Rael read from a Washington Post article that listed 12 important qualities teachers need to have. The first was a passion for teaching and the second was a love of kids. "You have to love kids to teach and reach the whole kid," Rael said.

She also said that teachers have to understand the role of school in a child's life. "High school is more than the sum of the classes the kids take."

Rael stressed the importance of a strong work ethic, a willingness to reflect, and that being a great teacher is a constant struggle to always improve. "Sometimes you'll feel like your a first-year teach again and again," said Rael. "You have to have a mindset of growth.

"A failed lesson doesn't mean that the teacher failed. It's a lesson and a chance to grow."

After going through the list she tasked the tables to come up with their own qualities and strengths show in their districts teachers.

Rael ended by quoting Alexander Den Heijer. "When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment which it grows," Rael said, "not the flower."

The following teachers were recognized:

Alamosa School District

Cheri Jones  (Educator of the Year)

Jones has been with the Alamosa School District for five years where she teaches Middle School Science. Jones has 17 years of prior teaching experience. Jones received a BS degree in Secondary Science and a MA in Education from ASU.

Jones consistently uses lesson plans that reflect instructional objectives appropriate for students and approved curriculum. Through formative assessments she identifies which students have mastered which parts of their skills. Jones is pictured above with BOCES Board President Mark Bahr.

Centennial School District

Lucy Mondragon

Mondragon has been with the Centennial School District for seven years where she teaches second grade. She received an AA Degree and a BA Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with and Endorsement in Special Education from Adams State University.

Mondragon's use of cooperative learning strategies help build her classroom culture of inclusion and encouragement. She also builds positive relationships with her learners and their families to engage all learners. Mondragon is interested in helping students prepare themselves to become successful adults.

Center School District

Ashley Lane

Lane has been with the Center School District for seven years where she is the Elementary ESL Interventionist. Ashley received a BA Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Adams State University.

Lane works to create effective Language Objectives so that her students have a clear and focused path when listening, reading, speaking and writing. She is pursuing a graduate degree in Adaptive Leadership which will help her continue to mentor and support fellow educators. Ashley wants to be a leader that will bring the best education possible for students.

Ashley Lane was not present at the ceremony.

Creede School District

Murry Polk

Polk has been with the Creede School District for seven years where he teaches grades K-1, with a total of 40 years in the educational field and has recently came out of retirement to teach again. Murry received a BA in Education and a Master of Education from Sam Houston State University.

One of Polk’s great strengths is his ability to build relationships with students, their parents, and his co-workers. He believes educators are charged with not only the education of young minds, but providing a loving, caring, and structured environment that will encourage and enhance their daily lives.

Del Norte School District

Bill Sauvigne

Sauvigne has been with the Del Norte for 12 years where he teaches Wood Shop.

Bill received a T.A.P. Degree from Colorado State University.

He believes that students must continually show how all subjects are inter-related and the knowledge gained in one will help gain knowledge in others.

Sauvigne’s success in the classroom is largely due to his ability to create positive, trusting student-teacher relationships. Bill’s classes incorporate extensive cooperative learning opportunities as well as independent academic ventures.

Moffat School District/Crestone Charter School

Emily Donaldson

Donaldson has been with the Crestone Charter School for two years where she teaches High School ELA and Social Studies. Emily received a BA Degree in History and Secondary Education for University of Maryland and a BA Degree in Art History from Colorado State University.

Donaldson uses project-based learning which ensures that the students make use of their creativity and interest, allowing them to stay with their work throughout the whole process. Her skill and clarity in fostering ‘student exception’ and ‘student self-monitoring’ of their work has created a high degree of student ownership of learning and actual awareness of the content learned.

Emily Donaldson was not present at the ceremony.

Monte Vista School District

Peggy Haslar

Haslar has been with the Monte Vista School District for 15 years as an Early Childhood School Counselor. She received a BA Degree in English and a MA Degree in Counseling from Adams State University.

Haslar proactive approach to her counseling position means that she studies and researches prototypes in accordance with the ASCA school counseling model. She does several small group activities where children are engaged on whatever social emotional skill they may be working on.

Mountain Valley School District

Jody Abeyta

Abeyta has been with the Mountain Valley School District for four years where she teaches third Grade. She received a BS Degree in Organismal Biology from Adams State University.

Abeyta consistently tries new approaches and techniques to keep up with current trends and uses best practice methods in her classroom. Every student in her classroom knows they are a vital and important part of the classroom, and each child has the chance to succeed.

North Conejos School District/Alternative Program

Janice Price

Price teaches in the Alternative Program for the North Conejos School District where she has 27 years of experience. She received from Adams State University a Physics Major, Secondary Education Major and a Mathematics Minor.

Price’s teaching approach involves finding and using student’s unique strengths to help them overcome their struggles and develop a positive self-concept. She believes that students must see that she cares and wants them to succeed. As a teacher she strives to help students love to learn and that anything worth having takes work.

Sanford School District

Mandy Mortensen

Mortensen has been with the Sanford School District for 18 years where she is the Title I Elementary Teacher. She received a BA Degree in Elementary Ed. and a MA in Educational Leadership from Adams State University. She is involved in the Gifted and Talented program and is also a member of the District Leadership Team, as well as President of the Sanford Teacher Organization.

Mortensen believes that education is so much more than just learning to read, write, and math. She helps students to realize the importance of critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, synthesizing information, interpretations, and analysis.

Sangre de Cristo School District

Misty Lambert

Lambert has been with the Sangre de Cristo School District for five years where she teaches Middle School/High School Art. She received a BA Degree from Mesa College, her Teacher Certification from Regis University, Technological Enhancement.

Lambert uses formative assessments to track each student’s progress and assesses their understanding of the various mediums through work samples. Students take ownership in their own learning and identify areas of personal weakness through their daily reflection of project progress. Lambert visualizes her roll in the classroom as a facilitator, a mentor, and a guide through the visual arts world.

San Luis Valley BOCES

Deborah Huss

Huss is an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher and has been with the SLV BOCES for 30 years. She is the Team Leader for the BOCES ECSE Teachers and a member of the Child Find Team. Huss received a BA Degree in Special Education from the University of San Diego a MA Degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado and a Licensure in Early Childhood Special Education from Denver University.

Huss chose to pursue and teach special education students because she felt a great hope that though there would be challenges, there would also be many successes. She sees herself as an educator of children but also an educator of parents and general education teachers.

Sargent School District

Kendra Sanderson

Sanderson has been with the Sargent School District fort three years where she teaches fourth grade. She is also the Elementary student council sponsor and the National Elementary Honor Society Sponsor. Sanderson received a BA Degree in Early childhood education as well as a Gifted and Talented Specialist.

As a teacher Sanderson believes that it is up to her to get to know the individuals within her classroom and to do everything that she can to make learning a constructive and affirming experience for each of them. She encourages students, holds them accountable, jokes with them, listen to their stories and talks to them about things they are interested in.

Sierra Grande

Christy Lucero

Lucero has been with the Sierra Grande School District for eight years where she teaches Middle School History. She received an AA Degree with an Emphasis in Education for Trinidad State Junior College and a BA Degree in Elementary Education from Adams State University.

Lucero communicates the importance of high expectations for all students and utilizes scientifically research strategies to accomplish these goals. She likes to interact and influence her students and parents by forming relationships with them. Lucero encourages all of her students to come to her with anything that they would like to talk about.

South Conejos School District

Jessica Valdez

Valdez has been with the South Conejos School District for 16 years where she teaches first grade. She received a MA Degree in Reading and a BS of Elementary from Adams State University.

Valdez utilizes the depth and complexity model within her teaching to help differentiate instruction for her students. She establishes an engaging and comfortable classroom which promotes resect of all who enter. She enables, motivates, and encourages her students to have a great work ethic by providing learning experiences they enjoy, yet also have to earn.

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