Oct. 28, 2011
Boulder Valley teacher named State Teacher of the Year
Dr. Jerry Lee Anderson, Principal of Monarch High School, congratulates Kristin Donley (center) for being named Teacher of the Year. Colorado Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond (seated) joins in the applause.
It seemed like just another ordinary day for Kristin Donley, a science teacher at Monarch High School in the Boulder Valley School District. Today started with an all-school assembly with state dignitaries seated at the front of the gym ready to honor the school for its 1-to-1 computer program.
But after a few opening comments from State Education Commissioner Robert Hammond about the unique program, he changed the subject and told the group he and the others were really there to honor a special teacher. The gym filled with the entire student body erupted into shouts, applause and whistles when the Commissioner announced Donley as the 2012 Colorado Teacher of the Year.
A surprised Donley walked, stunned, to the podium to join Hammond and a cast of about 15 dignitaries from around the state including Congressman Jared Polis. As the new Teacher of the Year, Donley will get many professional development opportunities through the National Teacher of the Year program and will even get to attend a ceremony at the White House and go to Space Camp for a week.
Two of Donley’s students even stepped to the podium to tell what made their teacher special. Michael Capitelli and Rebecca Richmond explained to their student peers what a unique experience they have in Donley’s classes.
The Colorado Legacy Foundation, the program’s chief sponsor, is donating about $20,000 to allow Donley time to be gone from her school to attend these events and other speaking engagements. Other contributors include Adams State College, SMART Technologies, Colorado Free Masons and Blue Bell Ice Cream.
Donley was selected for the honor based on her expertise, the results she gets from her classroom instruction, and her ability to inspire students. Here are a few examples:
“A high school science teacher at Monarch High School, Kristin Donley is inspired by her students’ excitement for learning. Donley has successfully collaborated with community partners to offer her students opportunities beyond the four walls of the classroom. Her partnership with University of Colorado Boulder allowed her students to spend a week at the CU Mountain Research Station in Nederland, Colo. Students were exposed to cutting-edge research where they were able to do their own research and compete competitively in the regional science fair.
Donley has taught physical science, chemistry and biology at Monarch High School for 10 years. She established and coordinated a district science research seminar to create a peer science mentorship program for elementary and middle school students. As the district curriculum coordinator, Donley offered free professional development opportunities. She believes that knowledge is gained mostly by empirical means (use of senses to investigate and acquire data) and that the scientific method is one of the best approaches to problem solving. Donley offers these techniques in her classroom to inspire her students to have a passion for learning.”