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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.
2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year Finalists
The finalists for the Colorado Teacher of the Year 2022 award, listed and pictured above in alphabetical order by last name, are:
- Carrianna DePace (Mountain Vista Community School, Harrison School District 2)
Carrianna DePace teaches fifth-grade English language arts at MVCS in Colorado Springs where she has spent the entirety of her career. DePace is a first-generation college graduate and became a teacher because she knew that for kids like herself who are coping with chaos and trauma at home, a safe school and education have the power to be a great equalizer.
- Julia Ferre (SkyView Academy, Douglas County School District)
Julia Ferre teaches eighth-grade science at SkyView Academy, a charter school in Highlands Ranch. Initially, Ferre had a career in journalism and media before finding her path to education. Prior to teaching eighth grade, she taught fifth grade for four years at SkyView.
- Emmylou Harmon (West Grand High School, West Grand School District)
Emmylou Harmon teaches secondary science, math and CTE agriculture at West Grand High School in Kremmling, where she has been for 21 of her 23 years in the profession. Harmon was awarded the 2021 Colorado State Science and Engineering Fair Teacher of the Year, sponsored by Lockheed Martin. She was also selected as the 2021 West Grand School District Teacher of the Year.
- Ashley Lowe (Falcon Middle School, School District 49)
Ashley Lowe teaches eighth-grade English language arts at Falcon Middle School in Peyton. During her three years in teaching, her personalized student learning plans were nationally recognized at the 2021 National Conference on Digital Convergence. Lowe was also recognized by District 49 as her school’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.
- Autumn Rivera (Glenwood Springs Middle School, Roaring Fork School District)
Autumn Rivera is a sixth-grade science teacher at Glenwood Springs Middle School in Glenwood Springs as well as an adjunct professor in the education department at Colorado Mountain College. She has been an educator for over 16 years. Rivera is the Region 3 Elementary Board representative for the Colorado Association of Science Teachers and the middle school science lead for her district.
- Cristina Vanzo (Craig Middle School, Moffat County School District RE1)
Cristina Vanzo teaches STEM education for grades six through eight at Craig Middle School in Craig. She has been teaching in Moffat County School District since 2012, when she started her career in education. She has helped create a STEM program for students that was recognized by the Colorado Association of School Boards through the Student Achievement Program Award.
- Paula Wilderman (Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County, Colorado Charter School Institute)
Paula WIlderman teaches middle and high school math and science at Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County in Lone Tree, where she has been since 2018. Prior to teaching, Wilderman was a scientist and business development analyst in the oil and gas industry. She decided to start her second career as an educator to show students the importance and beauty of mathematics.
2021 Colorado Teacher of the Year
The Colorado Department of Education has announced the 2021 Colorado Teacher of the Year. Gerardo Muñoz teaches high school and middle school social studies at the Denver Center for International Studies at Baker in Denver. During his 21 years as an educator, Muñoz has been involved in a number of programs, initiatives, campaigns and organizations to promote equity and antiracism, including EduColor, Choose the National Education Association’s Racial and Social Justice Conference, and the University of Colorado’s Teachers of Color and Allies Summit.
Muñoz has taught middle and high school students at DCIS for 14 years. His classes include Concurrent Enrollment Ethnic Studies, Advanced Placement World History and 5280 Challenge/Student Board of Education through DPS’s Student Voice and Leadership program. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in history and Latin American studies from the University of Colorado, as well as a master of arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Denver.
2020 Colorado Teacher of the Year: My COVID-19 experience
Colorado's 2020 Teacher of the Year came down with COVID-19 last spring. She talks about how she recovered from the disease and how she is preparing for the new year.
"My advice to teachers this year is to listen to your district leaders and local health officials. Be safe. Help your students. And wear a mask!" - Hilary Wimmer
Colorado Teachers of the Year offer support during COVID-19
Colorado's current and former Teachers of the Year have advice for their teaching colleagues as they enter this unprecedented change in learning necessary while in-person instruction is suspended in Colorado:
You are not alone, try your best and don't take on too much.
Teacher of the Year Archives
Recent Teacher of the Year Winners
- Hilary Wimmer, 2020 Colorado Teacher of the Year
- Meg Cypress, 2019 Colorado Teacher of the Year
- Christina Randle, 2018 Colorado Teacher of the Year
- Sean Wybrant, 2017 Colorado Teacher of the Year
- Leticia Ingram, 2016 Colorado Teacher of the Year
Veteran Teacher of the Year Winners
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, please visit the Colorado Council's website.
For more information on this program, please contact:
Competitive Grants and Awards Supervisor