Colorado's Aspiring Educator Honor Roll

Our educators are training the next generation of artists, scientists, engineers and health professionals who will power Colorado’s economy and communities. That’s why elevating the profession has become a top priority for the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

To kick off Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re recognizing Colorado’s top teacher candidates on Monday, May 8. We've asked each school or college of education to select up to two teacher candidates to join our inaugural Aspiring Educator Honor Roll. We will celebrate the honorees at a ceremony at the State Capitol at 1:30 p.m.

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2017 Honorees


Student: Mike Pritts
College/University: Colorado College
Major/Degree Program: Master of Arts in Teaching
About Mike: Throughout the MAT program, Mike has demonstrated the highest level of passion and commitment to his students. As an Army Veteran, Mike has a deep understanding of the challenges military families endure. He entered Colorado College's program with the expressed goal of working at Fountain Fort Carson High School, hoping to create a safe and welcoming family-like community for his students whose lives are filled with uncertainty. With compassion, kindness and a gift for leadership, he has done just that. Mike has already been hired as a history teacher and football coach for the next school year at FFCHS. His dedication and natural abilities in the classroom humble everyone around him, and he is truly an outstanding educator.


Student: Tricia Renee Cornelius
College/University: Colorado College
Major/Degree Program: Master of Arts in Teaching
About Renee: Renee Cornelius was born to be a teacher. When she talks about her students, there is a light in her eye, a joy that cannot be suppressed. She is truly passionate about helping her students see their potential and giving everything of herself to help them achieve that. Renee is dedicated to education as social justice and committed to ensuring all her students have access to high quality experiences. This year brought obstacles and challenges Renee was not expecting; and yet, she demonstrated incredible perseverance and tenacity. She is truly a dedicated and talented educator.


Student: Kayleigh Busse
College/University: Colorado Mesa University
Major/Degree Program: Liberal Arts - Elementary Education
About Kayleigh: Kayleigh's passion for children is clear the minute you begin to listen to her speak about working with elementary students. Not only does she show a passion for being in a classroom, Kayleigh gives one hundred percent effort to make sure all students' needs are being met while building strong relationships with individuals so she can cater to their interests and prior knowledge. She works collaboratively with her peers working to solve problems, analyze student work, and plan engaging instruction. She is a strong college student in her courses as demonstrated by her 3.8 GPA and very high score on the National edTPA Teacher Performance Assessment in elementary math; she is now taking that dedication and hard work to the elementary classroom. Kayleigh will be the educator who makes a positive difference in children's lives.


Student: Brandon Stanfield
College/University: Colorado Mesa University
Major/Degree Program: Bachelors of Arts in History with a concentration in Secondary Education
About Brandon: For a pre-service teacher, Brandon possesses the planning, reflection, and implementation skills of someone far senior and all with a humility and enthusiasm to learn more: all for the sake of his students. Brandon cares deeply for his students and is able to form healthy and meaningful relationships with them. He engages them with his humor, animation, and a genuine willingness to hear them. They trust his authenticity, and as a result, work and learn not only for themselves, but also for him. These relationships are foundational to how he manages his classroom. Brandon is today a teacher candidate, but tomorrow he will be a teacher moving into his own classroom ready to affect the lives of countless children.



Student:
Kenia Pinela
College/University: Colorado Mountain College - Glenwood Center
Major/Degree Program: Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Teaching Endorsement
About Kenia: Kenia Pinela is a first-generation college and DACA student from Mexico. Ms. Pinela has demonstrated her aspirational and self-taught skills by balancing her full-time job in Valley Settlement Organization in Glenwood Springs, CO as well as her full-time student responsibilities at CMC. At the Valley Settlement Organization, Kenia is the Director of Alumni Program and for the Family Friends and Neighbors Program. She will start her internship year in the fall-2017 semester. In her roles as cultural organizer, cultural mediator, and orchestrator of social context, Ms. Pinela challenged her classmates to reconsider the lived experiences of their students, and to consider the ways in which teachers’ biographies influence their engagement with emergent bilinguals.


Student: Monika Marsh
College/University: Colorado Mountain College - Glenwood Center
Major/Degree Program: Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Teaching Endorsement
About Monika: Monika Marsh is from Denver, Colorado. Her passion for teaching and learning started at very early age in 2nd grade with her Math teacher who inspired her to pursue education. She will start her internship in the Fall-2017 semester. Ms. Marsh has conducted home visits to document pedagogies from home and implemented strategies and techniques, such as biography cards and cultural quilts, to know her students in four dimensions: linguistically, cognitively, academically, and socioculturally. Additionally, she has implemented the family crest strategy to gather the linguistic, navigational, resistance, familial, aspirational, and cultural assets of the families. This information has been used effectively during planning instruction and assessment. Based on her field experience work and classroom assignments, Ms. Marsh has engaged in transformative conversations with her classmates. In these exchanges, she has challenged her peers to think critically about the ways in which home visits support acculturation processes.


Student: Saira Hernandez
College/University: Colorado Mountain College - Vail/Edwards
Major/Degree Program: Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Teaching Endorsement
About Saira: Saira Hernández is a first-generation college and DACA student from Honduras. Ms. Hernández has demonstrated her aspirational and self-taught skills by balancing her full-time job as paraprofessional in June Creek Elementary School in Edwards, CO as well as her full-time student responsibilities at CMC. She will start her internship year in the fall-2017 semester. Ms. Hernández has demonstrated in multiple ways the enactment of culturally responsive pedagogy practices. Ms. Hernández successfully applied her bilingual assets during field experience assignments in which she assisted emergent bilinguals through the use of expert teaching techniques and strategies such as emphasizing key lesson concepts in both English and Spanish, and through the use of cognates. Furthermore, Mrs. Hernández has conducted home visits to know her students and their families and to document pedagogies from home; implemented strategies and techniques, such as biography cards and cultural quilts, to know her students in four dimensions: linguistically, cognitively, academically, and socioculturally. Additionally, she has implemented the family crest strategy to gather the linguistic, navigational, resistance, familial, aspirational, and cultural assets of the families.


Student: Cherie Rollins
College/University: Colorado Mountain College - Vail/Edwards
Major/Degree Program: Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Teaching Endorsement
About Cherie: Mrs. Rollins’ epistemic curiosity drives her to accomplish not only her course work, but also to support her students in authentic ways during her field experience work. For example, this semester, Mrs. Rollins conducted research on her own about Marzano’s Teaching Basic and Advanced Vocabulary and its application in the Snapshot Online Assessment. She also inquired about the Test Vocabulary Handbook strategy in Herrera et al. (2013). She constantly reflects on the ways in which she has grown based on meeting her students’ needs. Mrs. Rollins has great potential as a teacher. This semester, in her mentor teacher classroom, Mrs. Rollins has taught whole classes several times. In her reflections, Mrs. Rollins considered the experience as if she were a substitute teacher, filling in when needed and earning the trust of Mrs. Clooney to deliver instruction at a 4th grade level.

Student: Nicholas Dyer
College/University: Colorado School of Mines
Major/Degree Program: Computer Science
About Nicholas: Nicholas Dyer came to Mines because of his love for computers. He is in his junior year as a Computer Science major, but after working as a summer camp counselor for iD Tech, he discovered he also has a passion for working with students. He is now pursuing a secondary mathematics teaching license, in addition to his Computer Science degree, and is president of the Mines Teacher Education Alliance student club. Nicholas takes every opportunity he can to be in the classroom and has taken the optional Early Field Experience course three times. Due to his commitment to teaching in high-needs schools, Nicholas was selected as a TEAM-UP Noyce Scholar in 2017. His passion for teaching is infectious. Not only has he excelled in his education coursework, but he has taken the optional Early Field Experience class three times because, according to him, a semester that he isn’t in the classroom with students is a semester wasted.

 

Student: Amanda Casner
College/University: Colorado School of Mines
Major/Degree Program: Engineering Physics
About Amanda: Amanda Casner has known she wanted to be a teacher since she was very young. After graduating high school, however, her love for science and math led her to Mines, where she is now about to graduate with a major in Engineering Physics and minors in Mathematical Science and Space & Planetary Science. She’s pursued several teaching opportunities while at Mines: a Teaching Assistant for Introductory Physics, a summer internship through Generation Teach, and field experience opportunities in several local classrooms. Due to Amanda’s passion for teaching, she was named an American Association of Physics Teachers Barbara Lotze Scholar in 2015 and a TEAM-UP Noyce Scholar in 2017. She will be completing her secondary teaching license in December of 2017. She is committed to being the best science teacher she can be. Amanda is equal parts physicist and educator, caring deeply about both the content and the students she is teaching.

 


Student: Robin Lichti
College/University: Colorado State University
Major/Degree Program: Family Consumer Sciences Education and English
About Robin: Robin believes that academics are a crucial area of development – both for children and adults. She has been successful in her studies at Colorado State University in Family Consumer Sciences Education and English. With the dual degree she makes herself very marketable as a secondary teacher. Her background in FACS will allow her to provide students with information and support around topics that are very significant and meaningful to their personal and professional growth and development. Her English endorsement allows her to assist students in developing both creative and professional writing skills by encouraging them to find their own voice as well as gain critical writing skills for their futures. Robin’s infectious love for learning will translate directly to her students and inspire them to achieve all that they are able.


Student: Stephanie Gutierrez
College/University: Colorado State University
Major/Degree Program: Education
About Stephanie: Stephanie has always produced top notch lessons for her students through her coursework in the Standards and Assessment class and practicum at Rocky Mountain High School. She not only prepares great material to cover, but also forms the lesson around the lives of her students. She not only gives them the opportunity to learn the information, but also allows them to view an intimate picture of their life. By doing this, Stephanie is bringing history into the present and finding connections to today's world - making history applicable for high school students.

Student: Elisabeth Patch
College/University: CSU-Global Campus
Major/Degree Program: MS Teaching and Learning with concentration with math licensure
About Elisabeth: Elisabeth Patch is a seventh grade math teacher in Brighton, Colorado who loves waking up and seeing the mountains every day. Before moving into education, she worked in business development, marketing, child care, and the restaurant business. Both of her parents are educators, and although she didn’t go into education directly after graduating college, she loved coaching and being with kids all day and eventually made a commitment to the field. Though she grew up in Boulder, Elisabeth graduated from CSU-Fort Collins with a degree in communication studies. She is currently attending CSU-Global Campus, earning a master's degree in teaching and learning--teacher licensure math concentration.

 

Student: Cole Harding
College/University: CSU-Global Campus
Major/Degree Program: Math licensure
About Cole: Cole Harding considers himself a very lucky man. He earned his degree in mathematics--a field that he loves dearly--from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2015. At that time, he had no intention of teaching math and applied to several sports statistics internships, but never made the cut. In sticking with his love of sports, he began working for a sporting goods store. After a year of stocking shelves, he decided it was time to try his hand at two other passions: working with children and mathematics. He began his foray into education as a substitute teacher at his former high school and, before he knew it, was offered full-time employment and enrolled in CSU-Global's alternative licensure program. Now he gets to call Standley Lake High School his home away from home. Cole couldn't imagine doing anything besides teaching math to the bright and diverse group of students that roam Standley Lake's hallways and hopes to have the privilege of working there until he retires.

 


Student: Megan Butterman
College/University: Fort Lewis College
About Megan: From her dad's machine shop in Albuquerque to student teaching at the Pan-American Dual Language School in Heredia, Costa Rica, Megan Butterman has made many notable stops along the way. She attended an engineering conference in Washington D.C, taught an after-school engineering program for twice-gifted students at Liberty School in Durango, helped design projects and co-teach at Mountain Middle School, and worked in afterschool and summer camps with local youth. With her 4.0 GPA and passion for teaching, she serves as an exemplar for other preservice teachers and will undoubtedly continue to expand her creative experiences in education. Her goal to become bilingual and expand her understanding of diverse cultural systems was partially realized in Costa Rica. She is a conscientious learner who approaches her teaching responsibilities with deliberation, originality, and an all-embracing emphasis on helping her students achieve their greatest potential by teaching the whole child, not just teaching content. Her drive and initiative to explore new approaches to learning, including digital tools and 21st century skills, are boundless.


Student: Olivia Goldberg
College/University: Fort Lewis College
About Olivia: Olivia Goldberg has displayed leadership and effective teaching skills since her early days in the Teacher Education Program. She has been a stellar student and taught in field studies while balancing a softball scholarship as a pitcher. She has guided students not only in math, her primary content area, but has also taught high school classes in leadership, scholarship writing, and teen choices during program coursework. During her semester working with students at Ignacio High School, she demonstrated strong collaborative and leadership skills while working with her college peers to design and implement lessons. She was so impressive during her student teaching semester in fall 2016 that she was hired as a paid, part-time math teacher at Durango High School while she finishes her classes and pitches for her last softball season her at Fort Lewis College. Regardless of the time, place, or subject, Ms. Goldberg always teaches well. Her lessons are creative, dynamic, and consider the needs of many kinds of learners. She demands high performance and rigor of her students, but is also compassionate.


Student: Caleb Stallsworth
College/University: Metropolitan State University of Denver
Major/Degree Program: Elementary Education
About Caleb: Caleb has loved working with children for most of his life. In the past, he has worked as a summer camp counselor, assistant preschool teacher, and a youth rock climbing instructor. It was last year, while working as a climbing instructor that he decided to follow his calling as an educator. Caleb holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Earth Sciences from the University of Northern Colorado. He is currently finishing his first semester of the elementary teacher licensure program at Metropolitan State University of Denver and is awaiting admission to the master’s program. After graduation, Caleb intends to teach either second or third grade in local public schools, but remains open to other possibilities in elementary education. His mother, a secondary English teacher in Jefferson County Public Schools, has been an inspiration to him since he was young. He would like to thank Jessica, his partner, for urging him to finally follow his passions.


Student: Kendyll Hulyk
College/University: Metropolitan State University of Denver
Major/Degree Program: Elementary Education
About Kendyll: Kendyll is graduating May 12th from MSU Denver with a 3.9 GPA. She has worked her way all through college, caring for children and working as a dance instructor. She has worked as a volunteer at the Jefferson County outdoor education program throughout her college years. Her lifetime passion has been to be a teacher. This is evident in her outstanding relationships with all of her students in her field and internship placements. She cares deeply for each one and differentiates her instruction for all. Her work with diverse learners and multicultural students and families is excellent. She has also worked closely with the several students identified with special needs in her student teaching placement this year and has seen much growth. She has gone above and beyond any required planning and implementation for each student.

Student: Sam Villa
College/University: Trinidad State Junior College
Major/Degree Program: Education
About Sam: Samuel is a non-traditional student who returned to college to pursue a degree in the field of education. Samuel is a kind, hardworking, persistent student. His aspirations to further himself are amazing and will be a huge asset to the field of education. He is able to manage his time around being a student, a father, a husband, and a job.

 


Student: Jessica Waggoner
College/University: University of Colorado Boulder
Major/Degree Program: BA in English with K-6 Elementary Education teacher certification
About Jessica: Jessica is from New Jersey. She majored in English and is pursuing her teaching licensure at CU Boulder. She is student teaching in a 3rd grade class at STEM Launch Elementary in Adams 12 Five Star Schools. Jessica was named the 2016-17 Overall Outstanding Undergraduate & Outstanding Elementary Education Graduate for the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. She is serious about her commitment to teaching, always working to achieve at the highest level. Whether coaching a young reading buddy, leading a small group in writing or composing a picture book, Jessica combines creativity, knowledge, and skill to engage students in productive learning. She enjoys teaching and is shows in everything that she does inside and outside the classroom.


Student: Gabriella Martinez
College/University: University of Colorado Boulder
Major/Degree Program: Master's in Curriculum & Instruction with Secondary Social Studies teacher certification About Gabriella: Gabriella is from Denver and got her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at CU Boulder. Gabriella was named the 2016-17 Outstanding Secondary Humanities Graduate for the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Gabriella is an enthusiastic and critical educator who is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of her students. She takes key ideas from educational theorists and applies them to kids in real classrooms. Her extensive work with the Adelante! Program at Boulder High School and her internship with the Boulder County Latino History Project Summer Teacher Workshop attest to her commitment to the principles of social justice. Her typical classroom teaching experience included lessons that championed under-told histories and engaged students in the analysis of primary sources using scaffolds designed to guide students to success.


Student: Diana Rapp
College/University: University of Colorado Boulder
Major/Degree Program: BA in Mathematics with Secondary Mathematics teacher certification
About Diana: Diana grew up in Radnor, Pennsylvania and has lived all over the east coast. Diana was named the 2016-17 Outstanding Secondary Math/Science Graduate for the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Her insatiable enthusiasm for learning combined with her relentless pursuit of innovative ways of teaching mathematics made her a joy to work with. Her work on a Noyce Teacher Research Team highlighted her relentless pursuit of learning the best teaching practices from a team of expert mathematics and science teachers. Diana embraced this professional development opportunity with a hunger for perfecting her craft, evidence that she is the epitome of a lifelong learner. She has an ability to build strong, solid relationships, resulting in motivation and commitment on the part of students, and a desire to work with her on the part of peers and coworkers. She is gifted at balancing innovative ideas, curriculum requirements, and the social emotional needs of kids creating really powerful lessons about things that matter.


Student: Valencia Seidel
College/University: University of Colorado Denver
About Valencia: Valencia Seidel was born and raised in Swansea and Globeville by a single mom and a brother who stepped up as a father figure. She is a mother and wife currently completing her practicum as a Student Teacher Resident at College View Elementary. On May 13, 2017, she will be the first person in her family to graduate college. She loves learning and finding new ways to engage students to see themselves as asset bearers in their own learning and in their own life She has performed as a student with the highest quality of professionalism, integrity and commitment for her profession and for the community. She is among the top students and writers in her program and is a sharp, creative, and justice-oriented young person who stands out and provides leadership for peers, for other teachers, and for her students. She is a leader in the Right to Learn organization in the School of Education and Human Development at CU Denver and is the process of completing and submitting a paper in co-authorship with the professor who leads this group.


Student: Sara Puharich
College/University: University of Colorado Denver
About Sara: Sara Puharich has been with the ASPIRE program since August 2016 and has proven to be an outstanding candidate, teacher and colleague. From onset of the alternative licensure program, it was immediately clear that she was deeply invested in her students' learning and their deep knowledge of the material. Her students are often engaged in nuanced and creative thinking, recently completing a cross-disciplinary project that explored different ecosystems through song and dance. In addition, Sara has been a wonderful colleague to others in ASPIRE. She is currently working in a video club with three other educators around Colorado and is instrumental in pushing everyone's thinking. Her thoughtful questions and desire for more resources illustrate her willingness to continue to grow and learn as an educator.


Student: Elizabeth Carey
College/University: University of Denver
Major/Degree Program: Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction
About Elizabeth: Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, IL, Elizabeth graduated from the University of Denver with a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology in 2016. Not only has Liz has excelled academically in the Teacher Education Program, she has worked extremely hard to build professional and caring relationships with both her mentor teacher and her students at Cory Elementary. As an apprentice teacher in Denver Public Schools, Liz has demonstrated commitment to honoring her students' diversity and unique needs. She maintains a high degree of professionalism and strives to craft differentiated lessons for her students that meet and exceed the Colorado Academic Standards. She goes above and beyond in helping to make her classroom and Cory a safe, caring community where every student feels valued.

Student: Desiree Seidel
College/University: University of Denver
Major/Degree Program: Curriculum and Instruction/Teacher Education Program
About Desiree: Desiree is a passionate and gifted educator who knows how to create a classroom that is engaging, challenging, and responsive to the individual learning needs of her students. She combines her beliefs on teaching, pedagogical techniques, rapport with students, content knowledge expertise, and professionalism into a highly effective classroom teaching style. Desiree believes “morally and fundamentally that a modern, democratic, free society cannot exist without accessible, quality, free public education.” Desiree knows that every student has the capability to learn and think critically and it is her job to teach and enliven these skills in each student. Her teaching is guided by the belief that all students can learn and it is her responsibility to find the right balance between teacher learning-objectives and student learning-abilities. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of Denver with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a Concentration in Education and two Minors in Spanish and Psychology. Between Desiree’s junior and senior year, she took a gap year to serve as a City Year AmeriCorps Member, working at North High School to provide Tier 1 and Tier 2 support.

 


Student: Joel Suarez-Ramirez
College/University: University of Northern Colorado
Major/Degree Program: B.S. Earth Sciences, Secondary Teaching
About Joel: Joel Suarez-Ramirez has been interested in teaching from a young age, and has been especially curious about all things science. Many summers during his teen years and beyond, he worked with camp children in Carbondale, Colorado, and is a natural leader. Much of his youth was spent in El Jebel, Colorado—exploring the outdoors and pursuing deep explanations of what makes the natural world work. Mr. Suarez-Ramirez is a very impressive teacher licensure candidate (junior) in the secondary science (Earth Science) program. He grew up in a Spanish-speaking home and at each turn of his education has gone after top achievement. His calm demeanor masks his personal and professional drive for excellence. He is always prepared for class, always completes tasks on time, and always is a student others chase in terms of academic excellence. He is a good and helpful team player—and one of the very strongest candidates seen in the secondary science program in over 25 years.


Student: Amie Bray
College/University: University of Northern Colorado
Major/Degree Program: B.S. Mathematical Sciences, Secondary Education
About Amie: Amie has always had a passion for learning, and has been interested in becoming a teacher since elementary school. In college, she discovered her passion for mathematics and aims to share the joys of learning math with others. She is a recipient of the College of Natural and Health Sciences’ Academic Scholars Award and is an active member in Mortar Board, a national honors society for seniors. Amie is a truly outstanding student with a passionate desire to learn all that she can, both mathematically and pedagogically, to be the best teacher that she can be. Her 4.0 GPA with one semester remaining in her program only begins to tell the story. Amie is an outstanding future educator is extremely reflective about all aspects of her teaching. In one class, her work was so strong that the professor asked her to act as a homework grader for this class in fall of 2016. She participated in the national Putnam Mathematics Exam and was part of a UNC team that submitted an entry in the national Mathematical Modeling competition this semester.