West Grand educator named finalist for Colorado Teacher of the Year
A familiar face in the West Grand community made it to the final seven for 2022’s Colorado Teacher of the Year.
Each year, the Colorado Teacher of the Year program recognizes an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled K-12 classroom teacher to represent the entire profession in Colorado. The sole finalist from the top seven becomes Colorado’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition.
Emmylou Harmon was one of those finalists. She has been at West Grand High School for 22 years teaching math, science and agriculture throughout her time there.
Along with her own kindergarten teacher writing a letter of congratulations, a student from over two decades ago reached out to Harmon when she was announced as a finalist. The student told Harmon what a difference she had made in that student’s life.
“You don’t know you’re having those little effects like that,” Harmon said. “Those little ripples that you don’t ever see, so that was really nice. I felt — I don’t know. I cried, honestly, out of happiness and joy to know you make a difference. A lot of days teaching high school, you don’t know that you make a difference.”
Autumn Rivera, a sixth-grade science teacher at Glenwood Springs Middle School in Roaring Fork School District, was named the state’s 2022 finalist. Harmon praised the accomplishments of that teacher and shared her own enthusiasm over being recognized.
“I was actually really honored,” Harmon said. “I can’t believe I made the top seven, I feel like that’s pretty amazing. I don’t know how many people applied, but I was very honored and very humbled to be up there. (I’m) very thankful for all the mentors and teachers that guided me through my whole life because I wouldn’t be where I am without all those people.”
Passionate about both math and science, Harmon has focused more on science and agriculture in recent years. She’s also in charge of West Grand’s National Honors Society, coaches club volleyball, leads the county’s 4H club, coordinates health and wellness for the district, and is president of the West Grand teacher’s union.
Harmon said she is grateful to be part of such a supportive school district, which has allowed her to develop her own classes on various topics. The example she gave was her greenhouse class that came to fruition after the alternative school closed down, leaving the greenhouse behind. She expressed interest in creating a class and the district supported her.
“You can take things that you’re passionate about and develop a program around it,” she said. “They’re open and willing to try those classes.”
Of course, the best part for Harmon continues to be her students.
“My favorite part about teaching is definitely the kids,” Harmon said. “They’re my favorite part. I love the students. I like getting to know them, knowing the things they like or dislike, teaching them.”
She expressed gratitude to the community for their continued support.
Carrianna DePace of Mountain Vista Community School, Julia Ferre of SkyView Academy, Ashley Lowe of Falcon Middle School, Cristina Vanzo of Craig Middle School, and Paula Wilderman of Ascent Classical Academy were also named as finalists for the 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year.
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