Moffat County teachers and administrators raking in the awards statewide
Though Moffat County School District may have its battles to fight as it works to raise the bar for its students, Moffat County parents can rest assured that the people teaching their children are some of the best around.
The school district is lucky to be home to many talented teachers and administrators, several of whom were recently honored with significant awards.
Gifted and Talented Coordinator Vera Turner was honored Monday with the Special Advocate of the Year Award, a leadership award sponsored by the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented and acknowledged by the Colorado Department Education’s Office of Gifted Education.
This followed on the heels of her recognition by the Moffat County Board of Education at its meeting Sept. 25 for being an exemplar to the state and CDE for her work in developing the district’s gifted and talented program.
Turner helped implement a new plan to identify problems in the gifted education system — specifically, that boys in the GT program appeared to be scoring lower on reading assessments than girls.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever really drilled down that deep,” Turner said.
The addendum she wrote for the program created a process to track problems such as this one and help identify a root cause and possible solutions.
Turner accepted her award at the CAGT state conference in Denver, where she was appreciated for her “incredible vision and leadership,” according to a letter from the association.
“It was very, very humbling and emotional,” Turner said. “There were so many deserving people in that room… It’s just nice to receive an award like this that acknowledges how far you’ve come. When you’re in the trenches all you can see is how far you still have to go.”
Ridgeview Elementary School has also been celebrating two of its own, principal Amber Clark and second-grade teacher Bill Ronis.
This summer at the Colorado Association of School Executive’s annual conference, Clark was awarded the Reba Ferguson Memorial Award, which is given annually to one outstanding elementary school administrator in Colorado who is in their first three years on the job.
A member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and President-Elect of Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals, a division of CASE, Clark has been successful at bringing her bigger-picture thinking home to Ridgeview.
Now in her third year at Ridgeview, Clark and her teachers have been working hard to develop consistent goals and systems across grade levels — in literacy, math and student behavior — and throughout every aspect of the school in order to track what’s working and what’s not.
“Any success that I’ve had is 100 percent because of the success of the teachers and staff at Ridgeview,” Clark said. “They are phenomenal professionals and I take no credit if it weren’t for them. They trained me to be the principal I am.”
New to Ridgeview this year, Ronis recently received the Peabody Energy Educator of the Year Award — which came with a $5,000 check — for his work at Maybell School during the 2013-14 school year.
Moffat County is home to two other honorees as well — eighth-grade teacher Norm Yoast and East Elementary literacy coordinator, Tiffany Trevenen — who were recipients of the Peabody Energy Leaders in Education Award and a $1,000 prize.
Before joining the team at Ridgeview, Ronis taught at the one-room schoolhouse in Maybell for five years.
“It was K through eight, 18 kids, all different levels,” Ronis said. “I loved every minute of it. It’s hard, a challenge, but I like challenging.”
Now in a more traditional school setting, Ronis is enjoying the opportunity to attend trainings in writing and reading, as well as implementing a math grant that helps students to think in higher forms of math.
“I’m a 15-year teacher but I’m trying to learn the latest stuff instead of falling back on all the old,” Ronis said. “You know, things change.”
Ronis was humble about the award in classic teacher style, praising his colleagues Yoast and Trevenen and suggesting they were more deserving of the big award than he. Even more exciting to him than the personal recognition was that MCSD was the one to clinch the award.
“I don’t know if anyone’s ever won it from Moffat County,” Ronis said. “I’m glad to bring it home.”