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Colorado Teacher of the Year

Colorado Teacher of the Year

About the Program

Each year, the Colorado Teacher of the Year Program honors an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled K-12 classroom teacher to represent the entire profession in the state. The selected teacher will automatically become Colorado's nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition. The national program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Visit the National Teacher of the Year program webpage for more information.

The Colorado Teacher of the Year receives many professional development opportunities and, along with the country’s other teachers of the year, is honored at a special ceremony at the White House and gets the opportunity to go to NASA’s Space Camp. The teacher also becomes a member of the Colorado Education Commissioner’s Teacher Cabinet.


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2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year Winner Jimmy Day Aurora Public Schools Supported by Denver7

2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year winner announced

Jimmy Lee Day II, the band director and instrumental music teacher at East Middle School in Aurora Public Schools, was named Colorado’s 2023 Teacher of the Year in a surprise ceremony at his school on Friday, Oct. 28.

Day has taught at East Middle School since 2017. During his more than 13 years as an educator, he has rebuilt three band programs, transforming them into award winning programs that earned superior rating scores from district music festivals. As a result of his effective teaching, Day became a highly recommended educator to participate in the Public Education & Business Coalition and the Aurora Public School Mentoring Community of Practice. He received his Bachelor of Science in Music at Tennessee State University and his Master's of Arts and Teaching at Trevecca Nazarene University.

Read the full CDE news release.


2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year Supported by Denver 7 ABC

Seven finalists for 2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year announced

CDE has announced its top candidates for the 2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year competition with the sole finalist to be announced by the end of October. Finalists are listed below in the same order as their photos appear above. 

  • Jimmy Day - Music, East Middle School, Aurora Public Schools
  • Tobias DeHerrera - First-grade, Mountain View Core Knowledge School, Fremont RE-1 School District
  • Whitney Gaskill - Fourth and fifth grade, Silverton School, San Juan School District 1
  • Theresa James - Social studies, Vista Ridge High School, District 49
  • Paulina Lerma - English language acquisition - Spanish, Green Valley Elementary School, Denver Public Schools
  • Rocio Meli - Seventh and eighth grade Spanish and eighth grade English language development, Castle Rock Middle School, Douglas County School District
  • Scott Wheeler - Choir and drama teacher, Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School, Poudre School District RE-1

For more information on each finalist, read the Sept. 1, 2022, news release.

Program Partners

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Teacher of the Year Archives

Recent Colorado Teachers of the Year

View a list of all past Colorado Teacher of the Year recipients.

Colorado Council of the Network of State Teachers of the Year

The Colorado Council of the Network of State Teachers of the Year (NSTOY) is an organization committed to the preservation and enhancement of the Colorado Teacher of the Year Program. The Council works with the Colorado State Department of Education and other corporate and organizational partners to celebrate teaching excellence through the recognition of educators who have inspired a love for learning in their students, and who have distinguished themselves in the profession. All Colorado State Teachers of the Year, as well as each year's finalists, are invited to participate.

For more information for upcoming meetings, as well as how to join, visit the Colorado Council's website.

Contact Us

For more information on this program, please contact:

Kim Burnham
Competitive Grants and Awards Supervisor
(303) 866-6916