GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – Sixth-grade science teacher Autumn Rivera is Colorado’s 2022 Teacher of the Year.
Rivera teaches at Glenwood Springs Middle School in the Roaring Fork School District.
Students at the school told the selection committee that Ms. Rivera helps them understand what science really means and said they didn’t think they would be as interested in the subject if she wasn’t their teacher. The parents of her students say not only does Ms. Rivera make sure each student is understanding and learning, but she helps the parents connect with their kids and their science work as well.
"I think it's still surreal; I'm a little in shock. It feels really awesome to be recognized," Rivera said in an interview Friday. "I've been working really hard and it's awesome to be among other teachers who have won the award over the years before. And being able to advocate for all the teachers working really hard right now — I'm excited for that."
With 16 years of teaching experience under her belt, many teachers at Glenwood Springs Middle School have come to use Rivera as a resource. She has mentored many of the district’s new teachers over the years. They say she balances grace, respect, and transparency in everything she does at the school – and always ensures that voices are heard during discussions. Rivera’s voice and advocacy is always to do what is best for the students.
"I was excited to have so many who have loved and supported me throughout my career, but seeing the joy in their eyes and hearing the students speak is my favorite part," Rivera said. "I just love those relationships I get to build with the students year after year, having them come back and visit, check in, let me know about their life. I'm just really grateful for all that."
Learn more about the other teachers who were finalists for Colorado's 2022 Teacher of the Year.
In addition to her middle school teaching duties, Rivera is an adjunct professor in the education department at Colorado Mountain College. She holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Science from Colorado College; and a Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs.
Rivera is now eligible to be the National Teacher of the Year. That title will be awarded in Washington, DC next spring.
"Last year was really hard and this year is even harder," Rivera said. "It's shocking, but it's even harder this year and I look forward to advocating for our teachers and for our educators and students to support everyone. When we have strong schools, we can have an even stronger community. I'm excited to advocate and speak on behalf of that."