The Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 recognized outstanding staff members Thursday morning at a district meeting.
For the first time, the district gave away educator and employee of the year awards. First National Bank also donated $1,000 to each of the three staff members.
High school math teacher Susan Wisenbaker received the Secondary Educator of the Year Award.
First-grade teacher Kathy Carpenter from Manaugh Elementary was chosen as the Elementary Educator of the Year.
The employee of the year award went to custodian Ray Vialpando.
High school Principal Jason Wayman outlined some of Wisenbaker’s outstanding data and feedback from students during the presentation.
Advanced placement scores on calculus tests in her class have continually increased and 100 percent of students reported they don’t waste time in Wisenbaker’s class, he said.
Wisenbaker was a mechanical engineer before she became a teacher and has been teaching in the district for five years.
She is particularly excited that half the senior class next has signed up for a math class that will count toward college credit after a change in the co-enrollment rules.
“We’re constantly trying to up our game,” she said of the math department.
Carpenter fell in love with teaching first grade after moving to Cortez three years ago.
“It’s a great place to be to build the foundations,” she said.
After working as a middle school and elementary math coach, she never thought she wanted to teach first grade. But she loved their eagerness to learn and their willingness to share what they are thinking.
“What we do in K-1-2 is just vital to the future,” she said.
There was a general acknowledgment that Vialpando was the best choice when he was announced.
“Everyone said: Yep that’s right,” Superintendent Alex Carter said.
Vialpando has worked for the district for almost 12 years and loves his job, he said through an American Sign Language translator.
He didn’t have immediate plans for the award money.
“I’m feeling great,” he said.