Longtime teacher honored as Carbondale’s Woman of the Year
CARBONDALE, Colorado – A teacher in Carbondale’s elementary school for the past 40 years is being honored as the Carbondale Woman of the Year in conjunction with the 101st Potato Day celebration this weekend.
Bonnie Fischer, who is now the technology and media specialist at Crystal River Elementary School, was selected by the local Zeta Epsilon and Xi Gamma Tau sororities as this year’s honoree.
Fischer will be the grand marshal in the traditional Potato Day Parade on Saturday, but is opting to do so as part of the elementary school float where she’s been for most every other Potato Day Parade since the 1970s.
“We’ve been there since the beginning,” Fischer said of the modern era of Potato Day celebrations. “It’s something we always wanted the school to be a part of, and out supporting the community.”
On Tuesday, CRES students lined the hallways with signs and flowers in honor of Fischer, who has taught in various capacities at CRES and the former Carbondale Elementary School. She’s now in her 41st year of teaching in Carbondale.
“They totally surprised me. It was pretty awesome to see all the kids there chanting my name,” she said, quickly deflecting attention away from her. “That’s what it’s all about, the kids.”
Fischer was also honored at the Tuesday night Carbondale Town Council meeting where Mayor Stacey Patch Bernot noted that she had Fischer as a second grade teacher. More recently, Bernot’s own two children have also had her as a teacher.
She’s also been responsible for organizing the elementary school’s annual Veterans Day and Cinco de Mayo celebrations for nearly as many years as she’s been teaching.
“Bonnie really deserves this, because she’s the most dedicated teacher at Crystal River,” said CRES music teacher Amber Bate, who also grew up in Carbondale schools, though she didn’t have Fischer as a teacher.
“She’s part of every single event and on every committee, and spends more time in the school than anyone else,” Bate said. “And she just loves children.”
Added Fischer, “I just love what I do … the kids, the community, my family; they’ve always been very supportive of me.”
Appropriately enough, the theme for this weekend’s festival is “Potato Day 101 – Back to the Basics.” The CRES float will feature a school room with lots of school children.
Potato Day is organized by the sororities each fall as a hometown celebration of the primary cash crop in Carbondale during the early and middle 20th century. The day begins with the Tater Trot 5K and 1-mile foot race at 8 a.m., followed by the parade at 10:30 a.m., music in Sopris Park at 11:30 a.m., the traditional community barbecue at noon, and the Bareback Bonanza at the Gus Darien Riding Arena at 3 p.m.
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The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.