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Seven educators selected as finalists for Colorado Teacher of the Year

Posted at 5:02 AM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 18:58:14-04

In a year when the importance of educators is more evident than ever before, seven Colorado teachers have been chosen as finalists for the 2021 Colorado Teacher of the Year.

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 then continues as Colorado’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Denver7 is proud to partner with the Colorado Department of Education on the Teacher of the Year program, which is supported by Canvas Credit Union.

The 2021 Colorado Teacher of the Year will be named in late October. The seven finalists are:

Anna Conrad
Harrison High School
Harrison School District 2
Raised in the mountains of Colorado, Anna Conrad is enjoying her eighth year working at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs where she teaches language and literature to Harrison’s first cohort of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme students. Conrad earned her bachelor of arts in English and studio art from Whitman College in 2013. After graduation, she completed Teach For America and continues to teach at her placement school. Outside of the classroom, Conrad is the varsity volleyball coach and prom sponsor and site director for Minds Matter at Harrison. Conrad was honored with Colorado Springs Metro League Volleyball Coach of the Year in 2018 and HSD2 Teacher of the Year in 2019.

Lisa Crabtree
Fruita Monument High School
Mesa County Valley School District 51
Lisa Crabtree is a 10th-12th grade social studies teacher in Fruita, having taught in the district for 16 years. Crabtree serves as the social studies department chair and teaches a range of subjects in that department. She achieved National Board Certification in Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Social Studies – History and was chosen for a professional learning grant to attend the Street Law Supreme Court Summer Institute in 2019. Crabtree strives to bring civic engagement opportunities to her school community, having served as the Kids Voting coordinator, helped facilitate voter registration drives, and hosted numerous guest speakers including a U.S. senator. Crabtree helped coordinate a U.S. Naturalization ceremony at her school last year and looks forward to collaborating on election events this coming election season.

Holly Haverkorn
Mitchell High School
Colorado Springs School District 11
Holly Haverkorn teaches drama and technical theater at Mitchell High School, where she has been for nearly 15 years. She received her Bachelor of Arts in theater with an emphasis in directing from Lindenwood University. Before receiving her teaching certificate, she built and coordinated the Youth Repertory Junior Program at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, taught elementary through high school theater for the Colorado Springs Conservatory and co-facilitated the youth summer camps for Springs Ensemble Theatre. Her professional interests focus on theater and production and more specifically creating community performance opportunities for students in low-income areas. She was honored as a Crystal Apple Award Nominee for School District 11 and the Colorado Thespian 2020 High School Educator of the Year.

Joe Hites
Vista Ridge High School
Falcon School District 49
Joe Hites is a veteran teacher and coach, currently teaching health and leadership to 9-12 graders and serving as the head boys basketball coach at Vista Ridge High School. Hites began teaching health, physical education and sports medicine nearly three decades ago. Hites received his bachelor of science degree in physical education with an emphasis in athletic training from California State University, Sacramento and a master of arts in sports psychology from the Optimal Performance Institute. He also earned a master of arts degree in educational leadership from Concordia University. Hites mentors young teachers, conducts new teacher workshops, teaches classes outside the school day and is a sought after keynote leadership speaker. He was recognized as the 2020 Vista Ridge High School Teacher of the Tear.

Tricia Kearns
Webber Middle School
Poudre School District
Tricia Kearns is a science educator in Fort Collins, Colo., teaching sixth grade science and seventh-grade health. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and a master of science degree in science education from National-Louis University in Chicago, Ill. Kearns has been teaching for 17 years and is a fourth generation educator. She is a National Geographic Certified Educator and serves as a teacher advisor for Scholastic’s Science World Magazine. Kearns has served as the head tennis coach for seven years and is the faculty sponsor for the Junior Solar Spirit club. She enjoys taking her students outdoors on field trips to connect with nature. She has traveled with students both internationally to Costa Rica and nationally where she has partnered with Grand Canyon Youth to take students on citizen science rafting trips on the Colorado River.

Rachel Lamb
Inspire Elementary School
Denver Public Schools
Rachel Lamb is a second-grade teacher who holds bachelor of arts degrees in both history and French from the University of New Mexico. She also holds a master of education in elementary education from the College of Santa Fe. Lamb is known for lessons that are punctuated by real-world applications, layered by technology, design thinking and project-based subjects. Her perspective on education has resulted in her recognition as a National Board Certified Teacher, Nearpod Pionear, National Geographic Certified Educator, two-time TEDxABQ Education Speaker, Apple Distinguished Educator, PBS Digital Innovator, the Henry Ford Teacher Innovator and an International Society for Technology in Education Making IT Happen award recipient.

Gerardo Muñoz
Denver Center for International Studies at Baker
Denver Public Schools
Gerardo A. Muñoz teaches high school and middle school social studies. Though he has taught every grade 6-12, he currently teaches grades seven and 10-12. His classes include concurrent enrollment ethnic studies, Advanced Placement world history, and 5280 Challenge/Student Board of Education through Denver Public Schools’ Student Voice and Leadership program. 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 holds a 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.