Educator of the Year nominees

VALLEY — The following are the nomiees for Educator of the Year. The banquet was last week.

Alamosa School District

Katherine Murr

Murr has been with the Alamosa School District for 13 years where she teaches first grade. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in literature, language and culture from Adams State University. Murr is a teacher who inspires hope, ignites the imagination and instills a love of learning. She establishes a positive classroom environment and encourages student to become lifelong learners. In addition,  believes in the importance of working collaboratively with team members and parents.

Centennial School District

Clara Adams

Adams has been with the Centennial School District for five years where she teaches high school science. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Panhandle State University and an associate’s degree in animal science from Lamar Community College. Adams believes that education goes well beyond the confines of the classroom. In order to broaden the minds of young adults, she is prepared and more than willing to dare, encourage and guide her students to step out of the box and into wide world. 

Center School


Mark Jones

Jones has been with the Center School District for nine years where he teaches high school construction/mechanics/MS math. He attended Adams State University. Along with teaching, he has coached volleyball, football, basketball and track. Jones believes that every student can learn regardless of language, background or socioeconomic status.  He and his students take on and tackle various construction and mechanical projects. His classes learn on-the-job experience from his instruction and this is a benefit for the students. Jones connects with his students and challenges their intellect.

Upper Rio Grande School District

Natalie Horrocks

Horrocks has been with the Del Norte School District for 14 years where she teaches high school science. She has a master’s of arts in secondary science education and a bachelor’s degree in geology from Adams State University. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in environmental management through Western State University. Horrocks promotes a hands-on approach to learning connecting students to their world.  She realizes that she has the opportunity to today’s youth to help them understand the impact our daily decisions make on protecting our environment. Horrocks is dedicated to the success of her students and is willing to expand her expertise to provide relevant opportunities for her students.

Monte Vista School District

Dena Jaminet

Jaminet has been with the Monte Vista School District for 15 years where she is an instructional coach and certification for elementary education. She received a principal licensure from Colorado State University, a certificate in the leadership program from Generation Schools Network and a master’s in elementary education. Jaminet makes it a practice to teach, listen, never complain and she always puts others first. Her planning and direct instructions of district standard instructional and student behavioral programs is instrumental in helping new staff and she continues to provide some level of expertise.  She grasped the principles taught by Lindamood-Bell and became certified by the organization.

Mountain Valley School District

Lisa Powers

Powers has been with the Mountain Valley School District for two years as the school counselor. She also teaches, middle school Blue Print Health Class and senior class in preparation for college or jobs opportunities. Powers has a master’s degree in counseling from Webster University and a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Colorado Christian University. She works diligently with each student to provide emotional support and teach health, social and interpersonal skills. She strives to foster stability for all students, and her enthusiasm and drive spreads to students, staff and families.

North Conejos School District

Nikol Kelley

Kelley teaches seventh grade language for the North Conejos School District where she has 27 years of experience. She received a master’s degree in teaching from Grand Canyon University and a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education from Adams State University. She’s known for helping to drive district initiatives to improve classroom instruction. She has moved and implemented effective mentoring, thinking strategies and other trend-setting practices derived from effective professional development.

Sanford School


Sarah Culler

Culler has been with the Sanford School District for five years where she teaches first grade. She received a master’s degree in mathematics from Western Governors University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Adams State University. Culler strives to guide each of her students to reach his or her potential. She is in charge of the before/after school-tutoring program. She uses student data to frame individual learning, and she keeps careful watch of student progress. Culler wants her students to be able to explore their own passions and to be excited about learning.

Sangre de Cristo School District

Kelly Parker

Parker has been with the Sangre de Cristo School District for 12 years where she teaches second grade. She received ha bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Adams State University, she completed coursework in early childhood development and education from Trinidad State Junior College. Parker takes the time to know each student and their family in order for them to understand their self-worth. Parker continues to be passionate toward teaching and is excited about learning new instructional strategies. Her enthusiasm toward the profession along with her beliefs that all children can and will be successful is infectious to all.

San Luis Valley


Laura Barr

Barr has been with the San Luis Valley BOCES for four years where she teaches early childhood special education. Barr received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Wichita State University, a special education generalist endorsement from Western State College and a master’s program in early childhood special education from University of Northern Colorado. Barr is willing to do what is asked of her to support the learning of all students. She understands the importance of early intervention and works hard to help prepare students for their life long journey through education. 

Sargent School


Jenny Kimberling

Kimberling has been with the Sargent School District for 22 years where she teaches kindergarten. She received a mater’s degree in reading education from Adams State University, a master’s degree in K-6 education from University of Northern Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in music education from Colorado State University. She loves teaching and everything that it encompasses. Kimberling believes nurturing students to learn empathy, grace, mindfulness, sportsmanship, resolution techniques, teamwork and academics are all equally important. Without one you cannot learn the other.

Sierra Grande School District

Travis Paine

Paine has been with the Sierra Grande School District for three years where he teaches high school English. He received a master’s degree in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in English/secondary education from Adams State University. Paine goes out of his way to help struggling students in his classroom. He has helped students reach new heights in language arts, sports and overall academics. He goes above and beyond to make sure that the students feel valued, accepted and successful.

South Conejos School District

Madison Mansheim

Mansheim has been with the South Conejos School District for four years where she teaches middle school English and video production. She received a bachelor’s in secondary English education from Adams State University. She also is licensed in English language arts and K-12 gifted and talented education. Mansheim is a doer, she comes up with an idea for making the school district a better learning place for all children, and she creates a plan and follows through to completion. As the video production teacher, she encourages students, writers and producers to find their voice thorough self-expression.


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