Teacher finds second career in education | PostIndependent.com

Teacher finds second career in education

Theresa Hamilton
Director of Districtwide Services
Rifle Middle School seventh grade literacy teacher Amanda Stockton receives the 2015 L.S. Wood Charitable Trust Teacher of the Year award.
Courtesy photo |

Rifle Middle School seventh grade literacy teacher Amanda Stockton was having a bit of a problem telling time. The clock in her classroom had been stopped for quite a while now.

The L.S. Wood Charitable Trust has fixed Stockton’s problem by replacing her broken clock with a magnificent clock and plaque proclaiming Amanda as “Teacher of the Year.”

“It was kind of overwhelming then I was told I was nominated,” Stockton said. “I thought it was wonderful to be nominated knowing the exceptional teachers that I work with every day.” When she found out she won, Stockton said, “It was shocking!”

Stockton entered the field of education as a second career after several years as a mortgage banker.

“I knew my heart wasn’t in it,” she wrote in her nomination essay. “I left the mortgage world to pursue teaching full time, and I can honestly say, my heart is in it.”

Her students feel the passion that she brings to the classroom every day.

“(Mrs. Stockton) is an amazing teacher that inspires students to learn,” wrote Delany Phillips, one of Stockton’s literacy students. “When Mrs. Stockton teaches, she makes it so that everybody understands what we are learning. She always makes it really clear what we are learning and why it is important that we learn that.”

Stockton is honored to receive the award, and it carries a very significant meaning for her. The L.S. Wood Charitable Trust was created through the will of Mr. Leighton S. Wood, who died in 1965, leaving most of his fortune in trust primarily for educational purposes. At the time of his death, Mr. Wood was president of the Mid-Continent Coal and Coke Co. that had operations in Carbondale. As a Western Slope native, Stockton’s ties to Mr. Wood, the mine and her award are deep.

“I didn’t make the connection between the two until (Don Parkison) began talking about the history of the award at the presentation,” she explained. “I had not put two and two together.”

Stockton’s family spent years in and around the Carbondale mines. Her grandfather, Archie Gould, and his brother, Dick Gould, worked on the coal docks; her uncle drove a truck for the coal company; and her cousin, Ron Patch, made the ultimate sacrifice in the 1981 Dutch Creek Mid-Continent Mine explosion.

“Anyone who lived in Carbondale in the ‘60s had something to do with the coal mine at some point,” she said. “My family was no different.”

Amanda is a product of Garfield Re-2 schools having attended since first grade and eventually graduating from Rifle High School. She also is the 2015 L.S. Wood Charitable Trust Teacher of the Year.

Riverside nominates Espinoza

Eighth grade Riverside Middle School language arts teacher Lauren Espinoza was this year’s other L.S. Wood Charitable Trust Teacher of the Year nominee.

Espinoza has a background in counseling as well as elementary education and is in her third year at Riverside Middle School.

“One of my greatest professional aspirations has been to impact the lives of students,” Espinoza wrote in her nomination essay. “An outstanding teacher is one that teaches from knowledge as well as from the heart.”

Her students feel it.

“Mrs. Espinoza is one of the greatest teachers I’ve had since (sic) I’ve started going to school,” wrote Joshua Sanchez, one of Espinoza’s students. “She is energetic and a strong-hearted teacher who is always teaching us the things to do to make us a better student.”

Espinoza has a bachelor’s in elementary education, and two master’s degrees — one in school administration and another in school counseling. She is in her third year in the Garfield Re-2 school system and will be a counselor at Riverside Middle School next year.

The L.S. Wood Teacher of the Year award is in its 30th 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 2015-16 award is designated for high school teachers. Last year’s recipient was Diane Cotner from Wamsley Elementary School. Laura Alfini from Rifle High School is the previous high school winner.

Theresa Hamilton is the director of districtwide services for the Garfield School District Re-2, serving Rifle, Silt and New Castle. Contact her at 970-665-7621.

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