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News Release - 2017 Colorado Teacher of the Year finalists announced

Sept. 16, 2016

2017 Colorado Teacher of the Year finalists announced

Six educators from throughout the state selected for annual competition

DENVER – The Colorado Department of Education today announced six finalists for the 2017 Colorado Teacher of the Year competition with the finalist to be announced by Nov. 1, 2016.
“The depth of talent in our teaching ranks across Colorado is extraordinary and exceptional,” said Colorado’s interim education commissioner Katy Anthes. “Here, we have six exemplary educators to choose from.  I don’t envy the judges having to choose from these amazing individuals, who perfectly represent the thousands of dedicated teachers who every day inspire children in classrooms across the state.”
 The finalists are:
Jeremy Beckman (Discovery Canyon Campus High School, Academy District 20)

Mr. Beckman, a teacher for 11 years, has taught at Discovery Canyon Campus High School for the past three years.  Teaching math and also coaching speech and debate, Beckman believes students must have the ability to be able to solve complex problems using their insight and background to prepare them for real world situations. 
Melanie Holts (Falcon Elementary School of Technology, Falcon School District 49)

Currently a second-grade teacher with 20 years’ experience, Ms. Holts believes that an outstanding teacher builds a classroom around relationships where there is a mutual respect between all individuals.
Lisa Lee (Wheat Ridge High School, Jeffco Public Schools)

Ms. Lee has taught for 28 years and is now a gifted and talented facilitator at Wheat Ridge High. Teaching has taken her to the TEDx Talk stage, to Europe as a keynote speaker and to a deep level of personal satisfaction.
Carina Raetz (Carver Elementary School, Colorado Springs School District 11)

Ms. Raetz has been the English Language Learning (ELL) lead teacher for the past eight years at Carver Elementary School.  During her past 20 years in education she has worked with students from Pre-K to 12th grade and has held various teaching roles and an administrative role.  Her passion in life is to empower others so they can realize their dreams.
Jodi Simpson, (Paonia Elementary School, Delta County School District)

Ms. Simpson has taught for the past two decades and currently is a second-grade teacher at Paonia.  Ms. Simpson believes teachers learn from and inspire each other.  They cheer each other on because they know how important their role is for their students and communities.  Teaching is her art, her musical instrument, and her favorite sport. 
Sean Wybrant (William J. Palmer High School, Colorado Springs District 11)

Mr. Wybrant has been teaching for 11 years, with the past four years as the Career and Technical Education teacher at Palmer High. Mr. Wybrant is inspired to engage students in meaningful projects, provide explorations on a variety of topics and bring learning to life for students.  He says he became a teacher to change the world. 
The teacher of the year will be announced by Nov. 1 and is chosen by a committee composed of a variety of individuals from within the education community. The recipient becomes the Colorado nominee for National Teacher of the Year honors and serves as a teaching ambassador to communities and organizations around the state and nation.
The selection process includes a written application, letters of recommendation, site visits, endorsements from the teacher’s district and personal interviews.
Nominees are judged on their ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities. They are expected to play an active role in the community and to have earned the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues.
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