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2013-2014 Online & Blended Teacher and Counselor Recognition

The Division of Innovation, Choice, and Engagement and the Office of Blended and Online Learning would like to recognize and congratulate the following individuals that have gone above and beyond in their service to students enrolled in Colorado's online and blended schools.

The individuals being recognized demonstrated strong evidence of the impact they have had on student achievement and growth in their respective online & blended schools. They truly go above and beyond in their work to make data-driven decisions and to customize the learning experience for each student. They will be recognized at the next State Board Meeting.

Online & Blended School Counselor:

Casey Burton, Denver Online High School

Casey Burton, a school counselor at Denver Online High School, serves online and blended students in his school by continuous in-person student meetings, guiding National Honor Society, leading community service projects, piloting college field trips, directing class meetings, and so much more. He works diligently to break down the walls of isolation that tend to plague many online students by developing individualized relationships with each student and connecting them with extracurricular activities and organizations. Students continually express how Casey makes them feel like an individual, worthy of a personalized education and he works with each student to develop an educational experience tailored to their strengths and modified to adjust for their needs.

In addition, he has implemented a successful test prep program that has resulted in 11th grade students averaging over 20 on the ACT for the past three years, one of only five schools in the district to achieve that distinction. Casey also oversees a robust Concurrent Enrollment program where the highest percentages of students in the school district are sent to college campuses to take college courses and earn dual-credit. Several students, over the past few years, have graduated from high school and enroll in college as sophomores and beyond.

The best thing about Casey is this: he makes people laugh. Casey creates a work and school space that is inviting, safe for sharing, inspired by creativity, and FUN.

Online & Blended Teachers:

Karla Durmas, Grande River Virtual Academy

Karla Durmas has been a part of Grande River Virtual Academy since the beginning, three years ago. Karla creates a welcoming environment, provides opportunities for success and develops community among the students of the school. Many students come to the school with attendance issues; avoiding school and interactions with others. Karla has created opportunities for these students to come together on campus and engage in group activities.

Karla utilizes data from a variety of sources including DRA, STAR, I-ready, and Dreambox to meet the individual needs of students. She advocates for additional resources for her families and has willingly piloted these resources to support student needs. As a result, student growth on the winter STAR Math assessment showed an increase of 8 months in a four month time span and the STAR Reading assessment showed an increase of 6 months growth. In addition, 62% of reading students and 87% of math RtI students have graduated out of one or more risk categories according to the STAR Assessments.

She also works with other staff members to support their understanding of data and how to develop individualized plans for students. Karla’s cheerful willingness to help anyone who needs support fosters a true sense of community among staff that overflows into the community of learners at Grande River Virtual Academy.

Gilberto Palomino, Denver Online High School

Teacher Gilberto Palomino is a math educator who continually goes above and beyond for his students and the school. While math has consistently proven to be the most difficult subject for students to grasp online, Gilberto fervently provides students with outlets to enhance math skills. These include his virtual office, math intervention workshops, YouTube videos, face-to-face tutoring, and more.

Since working at Denver Online, students have seen an increase in TCAP scores, an increase in college readiness, as ACT scores have increased, and an increase in graduation rates. Gilberto helped increase the percentage of Denver Online High School students who met the ACT benchmark score of 22 by 16.7% from 2012 to 2013. By utilizing SMI and MAPS testing data, he also targets students who score low in math and provides these students with five separate math intervention workshops to support them.

Students, parents, and faculty alike appreciate Gilberto for his great attitude, sense of humor, and ability to make each person feel valued. He respects people’s time and always works around other people’s schedules in order to ensure that he can be available when needed. In a school where a lot is asked of the small staff, working extra simply because he believes in the cause and cares so deeply about his students is something invaluable.


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