Garfield Re-2 teachers recognized

Theresa Hamilton
Director of Districtwide Services
Rifle High School social studies teacher Kyle Mickelson, center, stands with L.S. Wood Charitable Trust representative Don Parkison, left, and Rifle High School Principal Todd Ellis.
Provided |

Rifle High School social studies teacher Kyle Mickelson wants to be somebody — “somebody for every student at that walks the halls of Rifle High School.”

“It breaks my heart that there are many kids that don’t have that adult in their life to give them that positive encouragement or to have that unwavering hope and believe in them. I am there for every student at RHS if and when they need me. . .” Mickelson wrote in his application for the L.S. Wood Charitable Trust Teacher of the Year.

Mickelson gives his time, energy and passion to the Rifle High School students and that has earned him the title of L.S. Wood Charitable Trust Teacher of the Year.

Mickelson, a Columbine High School survivor, makes clear that April 20, 1999 set him on his career path.

“I was a freshman in the cafeteria at Columbine High School in Littleton, (Colorado) when my world changed forever,” wrote Mickelson.

Columbine High School teacher Dave Sanders ushered the students to safety, and then paid the ultimate sacrifice. Five minutes after being rescued by the SWAT team from a science room, Mickelson was informed that Sanders passed away.

“Every night before I go to sleep, I ask myself the question, ‘did you make Mr. Sanders proud today?’ My life’s work is to honor my hero from that tragic day,” wrote Mickelson.

Rifle High School senior Luis Carreon says Mickelson has made an impact in his life.

“To him it’s about giving that constant support. If he sees a student struggling, whether he knows them or not, he will do everything and anything in his power to help you study for a test, help you raise a grade, or even be there just to talk whenever you ‘re feeling down. He’ll do anything to help you,” wrote Carreon.

Mickelson was honored at a staff meeting on April 7, and was shocked to learn he had been chosen to receive the honor.

“Hearing the L.S. Wood story makes me feel extremely honored to be the recipient of this award. I am very appreciative of the L.S. Wood Charitable Trust. I’m blessed be a part of the RHS family,” Mickelson said. “I have the best administration, coworkers, and students. I have the best teacher and my hero watching over me in Mr. Sanders and he for sure has played a role in all of this.”

He gave a nod to past recipients for helping him become a better teacher.

“We have past winners in our building like Troy Phillips, Melissa Proebstle and Laura Alfini. They are all my role models for the kind of teacher and person I want to be. To be included in their company, makes me feel very honored.”

Coal Ridge High School nominates Harvey

Coal Ridge High School advanced placement psychology and U.S. history teacher Paul Harvey was this year’s other L.S. Wood Charitable Trust Teacher of the Year nominee.

Harvey’s passion is encouraging all students, especially through athletics. He graduated from Rifle High School in 1996, attended Mesa State College where he earned his degree in history and education while playing two years of baseball. He has coached basketball, baseball and football over the years while teaching at Grand Valley High School and now Coal Ridge.

“Since joining the (Coal Ridge) team I have had one goal, which is to make it the best school in the state of Colorado,” Harvey wrote in his application letter. “We are building something great here at CRHS, which is a testament to a professional staff and strong building leadership. … I will do whatever I can for tomorrow’s youth. They are the future of our great nation, and it is my responsibility to ensure that they are prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.”

“(Paul Harvey) is among the finest educators that I have worked with, both in pedagogy, and as a person,” added Coal Ridge High School Principal Rick Elertson.

Harvey holds a Master of Arts in educational technology from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master of Arts in history from Adams State University. He recently completed a book on the early history of Silt.

The L.S. Wood Teacher of the Year award is in its 31st year and provides a $4,000 grant for one teacher from Garfield Re-2. The instructor receives $2,000, and another $2,000 goes to that teacher’s department, team or grade level for purchases designated by the teacher with principal approval. All nominated teachers receive $500.

Selections rotate each year from elementary to middle to high school teachers. This year’s award is designated for high school teachers. Laura Alfini from Rifle High School is the previous high school winner. Last year’s recipient was Rifle Middle School teacher Amanda Stockton. Diane Cotner from Wamsley Elementary School is the previous elementary winner. Next year, the award will rotate back to elementary schools.

Theresa Hamilton is the director of districtwide services for the Garfield School District Re-2, serving Rifle, Silt and New Castle. Contact her at 665-7621.

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