Since 1996, the Rotary Club of Fort Collins has recognized a Teacher of the Month, selected by the Poudre School District and honored by the Club as an outstanding representative of the profession and member of the community.

The January, 2022 Teacher of the Month is Bethke Elementary School teacher Kambri Luna.  After teaching 5th grade and 2nd grade students, Bri earned a masters degree in reading.   Now she is an accomplished literacy interventionist and instructional coach who works with struggling students and also supports the reading and literacy efforts of other teachers.
Denny Bain of Poudre High School was honored as Teacher of the Month in December. Denny teaches U.S. Government and Economics classes.  He has implemented at Poudre  “No Backpack Day” for incoming students to ease them into the Poudre culture  and its sense of community.  He leads  a month long food drive in Northern Colorado called Feed our Families.  And his family runs a non-profit in Haiti called Love for Haiti.  His family includes two adopted children from Haiti.
Jim Cooper introduced Kirk Samples, principal of Kruse Elementary, who then introduced Rebecca Kates, RCFC's Teacher of the Month.  Highly regarded by her colleagues, Becca’s philosophy is “ it takes a village to make a teacher”.  She expressed thanks to and respect for, the students, parents, administration, counselors, and extended family who make up the Kruse 'Village'.
This month, January of 2020, our honored teacher was Marge Couget, who has been a kindergarten teacher at Beattie Elementary School for nine years Her career spans 28 years of teaching. She was introduced by her principal, Dave Patterson.  Presenting Couget with a check for $250 from RCFC was Committee Member, Marty Bachman.
Melissa Mize, a second grade teacher from Bacon Elementary School was RCFC's Teacher of the Month for December.  She was briefly introduced by Cale Wicker, an Assistant Principal at Bacon.  Melissa explained that she herself once struggled at school, making her keenly aware of the need to foster the growth of all students by making them aware of their progress.  This is accomplished nowadays by a team of teachers.  Melissa is one of the leaders in bringing about collective teacher efficacy.  She is the “go to” teacher at her school and we were delighted to honor her.
This month RCFC honored a teacher from Rice Elementary School in Wellington, Sharilyn Zerbst.  This five year veteran at Rice is a specialist in intervention for gifted and talented students and also for disadvantaged students, such as those suffering from dislexia.  
 
Sharilyn was introduced by her assistant principal, Melissa Duve.  She presented a lengthy account of her career and how she seeks to teach every child in her care every day, urging them on to love, to inspire and to develop.  She believes that all students can learn and grow beyond their expectations.
 
In her capacity of an interventionist, Sharilyn must  develop close collaboration with her teaching colleagues, whom she greatly admires.  She is also the recipient of returned admiration from them.  Sharilyn speaks warmly of how much her colleagues have taught her.
Henry Weisser introduced Dr. Thomas Dodd, the 2017 United States Principal of the Year who introduced February's Teacher of the Month, Kelly Ross.  Mrs Ross teaches both French and German at Lesher IB middle school.   Her resume is full and impressive—21 years at Lesher, 12 summer trips to Europe with students, softball coach, scorekeeper at games, etc.  She truly CONNECTS with her students because of her PMA (positive mental attitude).  Mrs. Ross spoke very energetically and enthusiastically (and at length) about teaching and her students.  
March Teacher of the Month was Jennifer Martinez of  Bacon Elementary School. She was introduced by her Principal, Joe Horky.  After leading  us in singing she gave an account of how music classes have evolved since most Rotarians took the subject. Activities such as song writing, playing in different keys and building a song on computers were among the many new techniques she mentioned. Ms. Martinez stressed that it is important to meet students where they are, including students of all interests and abilities, and autistic and disabled students. In her classes joyful participation initiates the process of music education.
Lisa Martin of Werner Elementary School was our April Teacher of the Month. She was introduced by her Principal, Hayden Camp, who pointed out that she was a veteran teacher of 35 years, 31 of them at Werner.  Lisa explained her passion for teaching in a compelling manner that held her Rotary audience. She regards her rewarding relationships with students, their families, and her colleagues as the top of her accomplishments. She maintained that being flexible and fun loving with her first graders enabled them to become motivated learners. Lisa has incorporated modern technology in her classroom, having students do such things as programming robots. Her dedication and her joy in teaching were clear for all to see.  Henry Weisser made the presentation.  
Henry Weisser introduced Matt Marietta, principal of Timnath school, who, in turn, introduced Christine Sanchez as Teacher of the Month.  Christine has been an educator for 23 years, three of them at Timnath.  Her specialty is teaching English as a Second Language.  She even works during the summer with “emerging bilinguals” with what seems to be tireless passion.  Sanchez noted that PSD students speak 56 different languages, and more than 2000 students are involved in emerging bilingual learning.   

Our November Teacher of the Month was Jamie Drage, a fourth grade teacher from Bethke Elementary School in Timnath.  Her principal, Ann Alfonso, introduced by Marty Bachman, spoke of Jamie’s deep commitment to her profession.  Jamie attended PSD, and as a youngster played games where she was the teacher and continued to dream of becoming a teacher herself.  Jamie is one of those teachers who loves to come to work every day. She is straight forward, optimistic and enthusiastic.  Her students discover that learning is fun and that each and every one of them has a positive relationship with their teacher.  She believes that developing these relationships is the core of teaching.  In addition to these classroom accomplishments, Jamie has helped to develop curriculum and has supported other teachers trying to improve student performance.  Jamie had an earlier career as an athletic trainer at CSU stemming from her major in sports and exercise science.  She happily switched to elementary education thereafter.  While she claimed that she was more comfortable addressing fourth graders, her talk to our Rotary Club was notable for how she held our attention as she clearly and warmly addressed the great vocational love of her life.

Our Teacher of the Month for December was Joanna Clark, a seventh to ninth grade math teacher at Wellington Middle School.  She was introduced by Bill Peisner, a counselor at her school.  Joanna has been at Wellington Middle School since 2005.  A dedicated teacher, Joanna sees helping students to get over their fear of mathematics as her main goal.  She loves her subject and is particularly thrilled when her students gain success and come to enjoy math.  She is noted for never giving up on the possibilities for success for each and every student.  Overall, she is a key staff member at her school.  She is a grade level leader, the department head for mathematics, and a noted team leader.  She is always keen to support students whether it is serving as student government coordinator or supporting students in extracurricular projects, such as concerts, games or plays.  She enlightened our Rotary Club with a thoughtful, precise and succinct account of how she regards her career and its challenges. She also reminded many of us of Pi, 3.1416 and beyond to infinity.
Our Teacher of the Month for February is Susan Steinmark, a thirty year teaching veteran, with 23 of those years in the Poudre School District. Introduced by Assistant Principal, Cheryl Day, Susan is a very busy instructional coach and literary interventionist.  Every day she meets with small groups of students from grades one through five who are struggling with reading.  She also mentors and coaches teachers and is proud of the growth she has observed in them.  This activity has led to her to become a consultant at the district level for literacy professional development for PSD staff, leading professional development sessions.  In preparation, she consumes data attempting to catch students before they falter.  She also is part of the district’s literacy curriculum team and the writing curriculum team.  Besides specific help with reading and writing, Susan is keenly interested in moral lessons she can impart to students and works with school and community student service projects called Lighthouse projects.  She is a teacher with a busy schedule and the dedication to fulfill her many responsibilities.  As a student herself, Susan was a Rotary scholarship recipient 35 years ago!
This month the Rotary Club honored Julie Otto who is a reading specialist at Olander Elementary School. She told us of how she carries on small group reading interventions from kindergarten to the fifth grade. She devotes time and energy to working with students as they progress from learning to read to reading to learn. Julie finds her greatest reward in observing “the aha moments” when the reading light bulbs go on in the minds of students. She is also involved with a program to get books into the homes of low income families. Julie works in the school’s  Literacy Lab and seeks to promote a safe and caring environment for students as they take up reading challenges. Julie truly enjoys working the teachers and staff at Olander Elementary as a committed specialist in her vital field.
RCFC Member Marty Bachman first talked about the experience of walking Poudre High's halls with Teacher of the Month Krista Brakhage, and seeing the love and respect extended to Krista and Assistant Principal Kori Hixon by every student.  After introductions, Krista gave a brief capsule of her teaching experiences that began in Ovid, Colorado, continued in Japan, to teaching in a drug and alcohol treatment center, and now at Poudre High.  Those varied experiences taught her the value of collaboration and relationships with students, and excels at both.  She has played many roles, including mentoring new arrivals who often have no home support and must learn to trust teachers.  She thanked Rotary for validation of teachers’ efforts.
Henry Weisser introduced the Teacher of the Month program for December at our Christmas party. Principal Steve Apodaca of Putnam Elementary School described our Teacher of the Month, Eileen Moore, as a compassionate, hard working person who always gave 100% to her students.
 

Eileen described the difficult and sometimes tragic situations that kindergarten and first grade Putnam students encounter. Putnam is a school where 90% of the students need assistance to pay for lunch. She acknowledged that she took on a hard but nonetheless gratifying job...

Garth McCann introduced Sandy Bickel, the principal of Weber Middle School, to introduce the Teacher of the Month. First Garth informed us that Sandy was retiring this year after 53 years in the Poudre School District, 13 as a student and 40 as a staff member. Sandy introduced Shannon Dreessen, a Family Consumer Sciences teacher. Ms. Bickel said the reason Shannon was selected was because she was caring and inclusive of all students and had their trust, respect and now love of her students. She read a couple of comments from students that mentioned those traits...
Henry Weisser introduced the principal of Blevins Middle School, David Linehan, to introduce the Teacher of the Month. Principal Linehan, at Blevins for 14 years, said he was proud of the students and staff and that our future was in good hands. He said that the Teacher of the Month, Steve Gravelle, was picked because the students rally around him, trust and respect him, look at him as a role model and are inspired by him. Some of that comes from the challenges he lives with and has overcome..
Henry Weisser introduced the principal of Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School, Joe Cuddemi, to introduce the Teacher of the Month. Mr. Cuddemi told us about recently being nominated by the Colorado Department of Education as 1 of 3 schools in the State of Colorado to apply for the 2015USDE Blue Ribbon School Award! Schools that are nominated for this award are selected based on data that demonstrates consistently high trends in academic achievement over a 3-5 year period. He then introduced Cecilia Bonertz, a 7th and 8th grade math teacher as the Teacher of the Month by praising several of her values and achievements...