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Colorado names seven finalists for 2020 Teacher of the Year

A teacher from Denver, another from Adams 12, and two from School District 49 are among seven finalists that the state Department of Education announced Monday for Colorado Teacher of the Year.

The finalists, named from a pool of 43 applicants, include teachers from across the state. They also represent teachers of various students including in elementary, middle and high school grades.

They are:


Justin Bankey
Cactus Valley Elementary, Garfield Re-2 


Richard Green
Shelledy Elementary, Mesa Valley School District 51 


Claudia Ladd
McMeen Elementary, Denver Public Schools 


Machin Norris
Franklin Middle School, Greeley-Evans School District 


Erika Siemieniec
Sand Creek High School, School District 49 


Hilary Wimmer
Mountain Range High School, Adams 12 


William Yerger
Horizon Middle School, School District 49The Denver teacher, Ladd, is a first grade teacher who believes “early literacy is the gateway to education.” The Adams 12 teacher, Wimmer, serves as the Career and Technical Education department chair and high school business program coordinator.

Bankey, from the Garfield district, has led an award-winning choir and created a website to share lesson plans. Green, from the Mesa Valley district, helped advocate for full-day kindergarten. Norris, from Greeley, is a former emergency medical technician, who teaches the science, technology, engineering and math field. Siemieniec, from School District 49, is a business teacher who hosts an advisory board of teachers, students, parents and community members. Yerger, also from School District 49, who teaches forensics and health science, has worked to establish a partnership for his students with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“These seven teachers serve as inspiring examples among the thousands of teachers across the state who every day go above and beyond to teach our children,” said Katy Anthes, Colorado’s education commissioner, in a news release. “These finalists are dedicated, innovative and pushing our students to new heights. Any one of them would make an excellent Colorado Teacher of the Year.”
Colorado’s Teacher of the Year applicants may apply for the honor themselves, or apply after being nominated by someone else. The nomination period for the 2021 Colorado Teacher of the Year will begin in November.

A committee of 12 selected the finalists. It also will choose the winner, who will be announced by Nov. 1 and will go on to become Colorado’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Margaret “Meg” Cypress, a fifth-grade teacher at Bradley International School in Denver is the state’s Teacher of the Year for 2019.