Finalists selected for 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year

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Each year, the Colorado Teacher of the Year program honors an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, and qualified K-12 teacher to represent the entire profession in the state. The selected teacher then continues as Colorado’s candidate for the national teacher. Denver7 is proud to partner with the Colorado Department of Education for the Teacher of the Year program.

Colorado 2022 Teacher of the Year will be named at the end of October and will come from one of these seven finalists:

Mountain Vista Community School

Carrianna DePace is a fifth grade English teacher at Mountain Vista Community School, a Harrison School District K-8 Title I school in Colorado Springs. She has spent her entire career teaching at MVCS because she feels so passionate about her community and believes that in order to be an agent of change you need to fully engage and know your community. DePace is a first generation college graduate and became a teacher because she knew that for children like her who face chaos and trauma at home, a safe school and education has the power to equalize. She believes that in order to effectively teach students, we must know and love the child as a whole and hold students to high expectations. DePace holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Masters in Curriculum and Teaching. DePace continued his studies at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs.

SkyView Academy

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Utah State University, Julia Ferre built a career in creating on-air and online media before finding her path to education. She was accepted into the Boettcher Teachers’ Residency Program in 2016, where she shared her skills and experiences with students at a neighborhood school in Douglas County. She obtained a Master of Arts in Education with an endorsement of culturally and linguistically diverse learners from Adams State University. After four years as a grade 5 teacher, she became a grade 8 science teacher at SkyView Academy, a charter school in Highlands Ranch. Ferre believes that the environments designed by the students and the learning demonstrations selected by the students promote the strongest intrinsic motivation.

Grand Ouest High School

Emmylou Harmon teaches CTE Science / Math / Agriculture at West Grand High School in Kremmling, where she taught 21 years of her 23-year teaching career. Harmon received a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from High School Teacher Education from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master of Science in Science Education from Montana State University Bozeman. She has taught algebra, geometry, remedial math, health, physical science, chemistry, biology, greenhouse / horticulture, environmental science, and food science. Harmon received 2021 Colorado State Science and Engineering Fair Teacher of the Year, an award sponsored by Lockheed Martin. She was also selected as the West Grand School District Teacher of the Year in 2021. Harmon not only works for her students to experience education, but she also plans experiences for staff at school in order to create an educational community in the hope of building a strong and stable team of teachers.

Falcon College

Ashley Lowe teaches Grade 8 English Language Arts at Falcon Middle School in Peyton. As a third year teacher, she has developed and implemented contemporary educational programs and practices to elevate learning in her classroom and authenticate student engagement. She was part of her school’s initiative of Modern Teacher, a model of teaching that creates a culture of learner-centeredness. Its personalized learning plans for students were recognized nationally at the 2021 National Conference on Digital Convergence. Lowe was recognized by her district as the 2021 Teacher of the Year for her school. Lowe believes in the power and importance of forming meaningful relationships with students to share his passion for the arts of the English language. She believes that as an English teacher she teaches more than reading, writing and communication – she also teaches empathy. Lowe received his Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from Colorado State University – Pueblo and is studying for his Master of Arts in English online at Arizona State University.

Glenwood Springs College

Autumn Rivera is a sixth grade science teacher at Glenwood Springs Middle School in Glenwood Springs, as well as an assistant professor in the education department at Colorado Mountain College. For over sixteen years as an educator, she worked with students from elementary to postgraduate level. Rivera holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a Master of Arts in Secondary Science Education from Colorado College; and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs. Rivera is the Colorado Association of Science Teachers’ Region 3 Elementary Board representative. She also volunteers with the American Association of Chemistry Teachers. She has presented a variety of professional development courses, including at the Roaring Fork EdTech Summit and the Colorado Science Conference. Rivera is also the college science officer for her school district.

Craig College

Cristina Vanzo teaches STEM education from grades 6 to 8 at Craig Middle School in Craig. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Science in Learning and Technology from Western Governors University. She has been teaching in the Moffat County School District since 2012, the start of her education career. After being a fifth-grade teacher for two years, Vanzo decided to take on a new challenge, moving to middle school, where she taught math and science to sixth-graders. It was around this time that she worked with her school leaders to develop a STEM program for students. Working in a rural district, she identified the need for STEM education and worked with stakeholders in the district to create an elective engineering course. Its program has been recognized at the state level by the Colorado Association of School Boards through the Student Achievement Program Award. Vanzo is always up for challenges and comes to school with enthusiasm every day to learn alongside her students.

Classic Academy Ascension

After spending many years in the oil and gas industry as a scientist and business development analyst, Paula Wilderman began her second career as a teacher to show students the importance and beauty of mathematics. Born and raised in the Midwest, she received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Southern Indiana University. Wilderman went on to obtain a doctorate in microbiology and molecular biology from the University of Miami. She moved to Colorado for a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine before pursuing a career in industry. Over the years, she has been both a tutor and coordinator of several programs in the Denver area. In 2018, Wilderman began teaching math and science to middle and high school students at Ascent Classical Academy in Douglas County in Lone Tree. There, Wilderman is involved in school activities and the establishment of school culture. She constantly demonstrates the wonder of learning and can be heard encouraging her students to say, “I don’t know that… yet. She created the Ruby Society which helps girls develop their virtue, character and gratitude. Wilderman has established and heads the local chapters of the Junior and National Honor Societies and is the co-leader of the House of Leonidas, one of the six houses of the school’s house system.

This Colorado Teacher of the Year cover brought to you by Canvas credit union. Find out how Canvas celebrates our community and helps Coloradans afford life to canvas.org.


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