One thousand dollars may not seem like a lot of money to some, but when you're raising three children, teaching two dozen others and earning a master's degree at the same time, it goes a long way toward easing some of the strain.
One thousand dollars was the prize that came with this year's Thelma Pett Continuing Education Award, given by the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association. And winner Jill Hafey will put that money to good use.
"When you're raising a family cash is always nice to have," she said.
Hafey has taught for seven years at Ridgeview Elementary School after earning her bachelor's degree in teaching. She's one-third of the way toward earning her master's in school administration online from Walden University.
Until she's finished, she'll continue to spend two to five hours a night on the computer completing her coursework.
"It's a seven-day-a-week deal," Hafey said. "I have found the body can survive on four hours of sleep a night and still function."
Hafey was nominated for the award by retired teacher Paulette Bray and had to work to earn the honor. In addition to the nomination, Hafey had to gather two references and write a letter explaining why she deserved the award.
Hafey said she loves being a teacher and loves everything about the education field. It is her goal to someday be a school principal -- hopefully in Craig and hopefully at the elementary school level.
"I love my job; this is just another piece I wanted to try," Hafey said. "I wanted to get my feet wet in some other area."
Someday, Hafey said, she'd like to earn her doctorate, but that can wait until her children are grown.
"After my master's, I'm done," she said. "I want to raise my kids first."
Hafey has a 5-year-old son and 15-month-old twin boys.
Ridgeview Elementary School teacher Janele Husband sits on CCIRA's executive board and was able to present the award to Hafey at a ceremony school staff members held in Hafey's honor.
"Jill Hafey is an outstanding fourth-grade teacher," Husband said. "She matches teaching techniques to her students' individual learning styles."
Hafey is the second Moffat County teacher to earn the award. Last year, Moffat County teacher Margie Mortensen won.
"It's definitely an honor to receive this," Husband said. "You have to be an exemplary teacher and a lifelong learner."