Kremmling teacher makes short list for state Teacher of the Year
KREMMLING — Each year, the Colorado Department of Education selects one individual from the state to receive the honorary distinction of Teacher of the Year, and this year, Kremmling’s Nellie Thomson has made the short list of finalists.
In early September, the state department of education announced a list of six finalists who are being considered for the distinction of Colorado’s 2019 teacher of the year. Kremmling native Nellie Thomson, who teaches third grade at West Grand Elementary School, is one of those six individuals.
“It feels great,” Thomson said of her recent selection as one of the state’s six finalists. “It feels a little intimidating. There are a lot of great teachers out there but it does feel great that we can shine a light on our small communities up here. Sometimes we don’t get the limelight but we are just as great.”
Thomson made the shortlist of finalist candidates through a process that started earlier this year. The process begins at the district level with peer nominations for district teacher of the year. In August West Grand School District selected Thomson as the West Grand Teacher of the Year. Once she was selected as West Grand Teacher of the Year Thomson was eligible to apply for state teacher of the year. Her application included a resume, a series of questions and a short video wherein Thomson discussed her opinions on a national education issue.
“A national issue I feel is important is social and emotional learning and the importance of a trauma informed classroom,” Thomson explained. “We teach social and emotional learning here so kids can understand and deal with their own emotions.”
The group of six finalists will soon be further whittled down to a group of three, all of whom will go through a site-visit process from the Colorado Department of Education. Following the site visits a final selection is made regarding the Colorado 2019 Teacher of the Year. Thomson said the final decision is typically announced in early November.
Thomson, who was born and raised in Kremmling, enters her 15th year as an educator this year. Her entire teaching career has been spent within the West Grand School District. During her tenure Thomson has taught first, second and third grade and over that time discovered that teaching young children is one of her passions in life.
“They (elementary students) love their teacher and they love to learn,” Thomson said. “They are so enthusiastic about school and life in general. They are genuinely just kind little people.”
Thomson said she chose teaching as her career because of the joy she receives from working with children, something she discovered while participating in 4-H while she was growing up. She also highlighted the role several of her teachers had in inspiring her to pursue education.
“I had several teachers who inspired me in my schooling,” she said. “They made every kid feel important. I think that was something that is my purpose, to make that connection and help every kid I meet feel important somehow.”
Thomson said those connections, between teacher and students, are the most rewarding aspect of her profession.
“When you make that connection with a student they become willing to work so hard, to be better because you believe they are better and they can do anything,” she said. “That is what is most rewarding.”
Thomson jokingly noted that during her childhood and high school years in Kremmling she had planned to leave her small hometown and live elsewhere in the world.
“While I was in college I missed the mountains and the small town feel,” she said. “It is hard to find that. I love it here.”
Thomson’s husband manages a ranch north of Kremmling and the couple has two daughters, ages three and six.
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