Wal-Mart, students honor art instructor | PostIndependent.com

Wal-Mart, students honor art instructor

Theresa Hamilton
Re-2 Director of Districtwide Services

There is nothing as breathtaking for teachers as to hear about the profound impact that they have had on the lives of their students and their peers.

On Monday, May 24, Rifle High School art instructor Leslie Keery was literally moved to tears when Kelly Neidlinger and Will Erickson from the Rifle Wal-Mart store presented her with the Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year award.

The award is based upon essays that students and staff members write about local teachers.

“This is great. I’m totally appreciative of those who wrote such nice essays,” said Keery after receiving the award. “I love these kids so much and want so much for them. It makes me cry to know that they feel the same way about me.”

Beyond the recognition as a special teacher at Rifle High School, Keery and the art department will receive a $1,000 donation. Keery said that money will most likely be used to help purchase a new kiln for the art department.

“We are excited to do things like this for the community,” said Erickson, manager of the Rifle Wal-Mart. “If you look at the future of Wal-Mart, it is here today. It is great to be able to recognize the leaders of the community.”

Wal-Mart’s Teacher of the Year program recognizes teachers at the local, state and national level. According to Wal-Mart.com, Wal-Mart will give back $3.6 million this year alone to the schools of winning teachers. Since its inception in 1995, the Teacher of the Year program has recognized more than 18,000 teachers nationwide and contributed more than $10.1 million in educational grants to local schools.

Local winners have the option to complete a comprehensive nomination form for the state winner phase. The state winners received a $5,000 donation from Wal-Mart to each winner’s school, a personalized Teacher of the Year jacket, a Teacher of the Year certificate and a one-year membership to PDK. All 51 state winners, including one from Puerto Rico, were automatically considered for the national Teacher of the Year award with PDK selecting the national winner.


The transportation department has announced the exceptional bus students for April. Nominees included: from Highland, Diego Beltran Alvarez, Dakota Harris, Kayla Martin and Raquel Murr; from Kathryn Senor, Jacob Aaberg and Rebecca Mitchell; from Rifle Middle School, Nina Boynton and Kyle Ashlee Wilkinson; and from Rifle High School, Sioban Bohannon, Alan Perez, Jackie Silva, Kaleigh Simms and Matt Varela. Winners for April were Wamsley Elementary student Veronica Santoyo from Stacey Whaley’s route No. 3, Rifle Middle School student Breanna Salazar, from Samantha Silvius’ route No. 10, and Rifle High School student Ismelda (Nellie) Gutierrez, from Jackie Murr’s route No. 6.

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