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News Release - 2016 Colorado Teacher of the Year finalists announced

Sept. 4, 2015

2016 Colorado Teacher of the Year finalists announced

The Colorado Department of Education today announced three finalists for the 2016 Colorado Teacher of the Year. 

“All of us in Colorado should be extremely proud of these fine teachers who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to their students, schools, communities and profession,” said Elliott Asp, interim commissioner of education. “These teachers are inspiring examples of the thousands of dedicated teachers in Colorado who work hard every day to prepare their students for success in the 21st century.”

The finalists are:

Leticia Guzman Ingram (Basalt High School, Roaring Fork School District RE-1)
Born and raised in a small town in Southwest Texas, Ingram grew up immersed in the Latino culture, but unable to speak Spanish. Ingram did not become fluent in Spanish until later in life and believes her own struggle in learning a second language has helped her develop a skill and appreciation for teaching her students to become English proficient. After graduating from college, Ingram traveled overseas to work in the Philippines. She later landed at Basalt High School where as a high school teacher she provides leadership, expertise and passion in meeting the needs of new students and those learning English. Last year she started an English Language Academy for students to focus on language development and immersion into the local community and culture. She believes she has helped the entire school prioritize and meet the challenge of educating all students, even when language is a significant obstacle.

Jose Martinez III (Bear Creek High School, Jefferson County Public School District)
Following in his mother’s footsteps as a teacher, Martinez has been teaching social studies for eight years at Bear Creek High School. Martinez works with his students to rediscover the joy of learning. He emphasizes having fun in class through educational games and “finance Fridays,” and enjoys the variety of teaching both freshman and seniors. He says when he thinks about the most influential teachers he has known, he doesn’t think about their ability to cite content or dates, names and equations. He remembers them because they inspired him to do better and be better, something he strives to do.

Colby Ricci (Breckenridge Elementary School, Summit RE-1 District)
Ricci developed her love of teaching from a family of educators. She struggled with academics during her student career, inspiring her to go into the teaching profession. Participating in small groups and receiving one-on-one instruction in many of her classes gave her a unique perspective into learning. Her experiences as a young student and adult have shaped her approach to working with all students. Recently, Ricci was named the District Teacher of the Year for Summit School District. She works with all struggling readers and second language students at Breckenridge Elementary as the literacy resource teacher and the English language development teacher. 

The teacher of the year will be announced in late October and is chosen by a committee composed of a variety of individuals from the education community. The recipient becomes the Colorado nominee for National Teacher of the Year honors and serves as a teaching ambassador to communities and organizations around the state and nation. 

The selection process includes a written application, letters of recommendation, site visits, endorsements from the teacher’s district and personal interviews.

Nominees are judged on their ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities. They are expected to play an active role in the community and to have earned the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues.

For more information, visit the program webpage