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. Denver7 is proud to partner with the Colorado Department of Education on the Teacher of the Year program.
The 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year will be named in late October and will come from one of these seven finalists:
Mountain Vista Community School
Carrianna DePace is an English language arts fifth-grade teacher at Mountain Vista Community School, a Harrison School District K-8 Title I school in Colorado Springs. She has spent the entirety of her career teaching at MVCS because she feels so passionate about her community and believes that to be a change-maker, you must fully invest in and know your community. 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. She believes that to effectively teach students, we must know and love the whole child and hold students to high expectations. DePace holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. DePace is continuing with her studies at the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Utah State University, Julia Ferre built a career crafting on-air and online media before finding her path to education. She was accepted into the Boettcher Teacher Residency Program in 2016, during which she shared her skill and experiences with students at a Douglas County neighborhood school. She completed a Master of Arts in Education with a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learner Endorsement from Adams State University. After four years as a 5th grade teacher, she became the 8th grade science teacher at SkyView Academy, a charter school in Highlands Ranch. Ferre believes student-designed environments and student-selected demonstrations of learning foster the strongest intrinsic motivation.
West Grand High School
Emmylou Harmon teaches secondary Science/Math/CTE Agriculture at West Grand High School in Kremmling, where she has taught 21 years of her 23-year teaching career. Harmon earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics secondary teacher education from University of Northern Colorado and a Master of Science in Science Education from Montana State University Bozeman. She has taught algebra, geometry, remedial math, health, physical science, chemistry, biology, greenhouse/horticulture, environmental science and food science. Harmon was awarded the 2021 Colorado State Science and Engineering Fair Teacher of the Year, an award sponsored by Lockheed Martin. She was also selected as the 2021 West Grand School District Teacher of the Year. Not only does Harmon work to have her students experience education, but she also plans experiences for school staff to build an education community in hopes to build a strong, stable teaching team.
Falcon Middle School
Ashley Lowe teaches eighth grade English language arts at Falcon Middle School in Peyton. As a third-year teacher, she has developed and implemented contemporary curriculum and instructional practices to elevate learning in her classroom and authenticate student engagement. She has been a part of her school’s initiative of Modern Teacher, an instructional model that creates a learner-centered culture. Her personalized student learning plans were nationally recognized at the 2021 National Conference on Digital Convergence. Lowe was recognized by her district as Teacher of the Year 2021 for her school. Lowe believes in the power and importance of building meaningful relationships with students to share her passion for English language arts. She believes that, as an English teacher, she teaches more than reading, writing and communication skills – she also teaches empathy. Lowe earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Secondary Education from Colorado State University - Pueblo and is working towards her Master of Arts in English online at Arizona State University.
Glenwood Springs Middle School
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. During more than sixteen years as an educator, she has worked with students from elementary to postgraduate levels. Rivera 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 the Region 3 Elementary Board representative for the Colorado Association of Science Teachers. She also volunteers with the American Association of Chemistry Teachers. She has presented a variety of professional development courses including at the Roaring Fork EdTech Summit and the Colorado Science Conference. Rivera is also the middle school science lead for her school district.
Craig Middle School
Cristina Vanzo teaches STEM education for grades six through eight at Craig Middle School in Craig. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Science in Learning and Technology from Western Governors University. She has been teaching in Moffat County School District since 2012, the start of her career in education. After serving as a fifth-grade teacher for two years, Vanzo decided to take on a new challenge, transitioning to middle school, where she taught sixth graders math and science. It was around this time, she worked with her school leaders to develop a STEM program for students. Working in a rural district, she identified the need for STEM education and collaborated with district stakeholders to create an elective engineering class. Her program was recognized at the state level by the Colorado Association of School Boards through the Student Achievement Program Award. Vanzo is always ready to be challenged, and each day she comes to school excited to learn alongside her students.
Ascent Classical Academy
After spending many years in the oil and gas industry as a scientist and business development analyst, Paula Wilderman began her second career as a teacher to show students the importance and beauty of mathematics. Born and raised in the Midwest, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Southern Indiana. Wilderman then went on to earn a Doctorate in Microbiology, Molecular Biology, from Miami University. She moved to Colorado for a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine before pursuing a career in industry. Over the years, she has been both a tutor and coordinator in several programs across the Denver area. In 2018, Wilderman began teaching mathematics and science to middle and high school students at Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County in Lone Tree. There, Wilderman is involved in school activities and establishing the school culture. She is constantly demonstrating the wonder of learning and can be heard encouraging her students to say, “I don’t know that…yet.” She created The Ruby Society which supports girls in building virtue, character and gratitude. Wilderman established and leads local chapters of both the Junior and National Honor Societies and is a co-leader of the House of Leonidas, one of the six houses in the school’s house system.