Paonia teacher finalist for award

Jodi Simpson

Although second-grade teacher Jodi Simpson is overjoyed to be one of six finalists for the Colorado Teacher of the Year, the best part of the experience isn’t the recognition, she said. It’s rediscovering her passion for education.

Simpson, a Paonia Elementary School teacher, has taught in Delta County for 16 years and has lived in Paonia for 33 years.

“It’s been a wonderful experience re-learning why I do what I do, cheering on my fellow teachers and reminding them, too,” Simpson said.

After accepting a nomination from the Colorado Department of Education, Teacher of the Year nominees must write seven essays, get three letters of recommendation, and go to an interview in Denver.

Simpson is the only finalist from the Western Slope.

She said the process has caused her to value her job and her students more, and to place less importance on tests and grades.

“I have learned so much more about the real meaning of teaching. We’re in it to change lives and touch the future, and it really solidifies why I do what I do,” she said. “We can get lost in trying to keep up with the buzzwords like Common Core and ... the Every Student Succeeds Act. We can get lost in what those top-down things are, but you have to go from your heart and say, ‘That’s not really what teaching is.’”

The Colorado Teacher of the Year will be announced in November, and will serve as an education ambassador for the state, as well as continue on to compete for national Teacher of the Year honors.


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