Awards honor area teachers

Posted 3/18/09

The Douglas County School District Golden Apple Awards, honoring Douglas County teachers, unveiled a new scholarship program geared toward supporting …

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Awards honor area teachers

Posted

The Douglas County School District Golden Apple Awards, honoring Douglas County teachers, unveiled a new scholarship program geared toward supporting teachers for years to come.

This year’s Apple recipients are the first to reap the rewards of $1 million in scholarship money courtesy of a partnership between Jones International University and the Douglas County School District. The university will provide scholarships to more than 100 teachers within the district who want to advance their education.

The Golden Apple Awards recipients were honored at the March 14 Golden Apple Awards ceremony, attended by 800 district employees, teachers, administrators and families in a sold-out event.

Educators in attendance paid nothing for their seats, thanks to the generosity of Wells Fargo and more than 30 area businesses, which sponsored tables and donated 80 percent of the seats to the district, said Sean McGraw, executive director of the Douglas County Educational Foundation.

The effort resulted in representation of 71 of the county’s schools, he said.

The Golden Apple Awards were at the Hyatt Regency, where Kurt Stroman, teacher at Cimarron Middle and Legacy High schools and Christine Jojola of Soaring Hawk Elementary School, were recognized for excellence in teaching. They became the fifth and sixth teachers, respectively, to garner the coveted awards.

The Douglas County Educational Foundation for the last four years has honored select teachers to celebrate the teaching profession and recognize those who stand above the rest. The teachers are selected in a nomination process that began this year with a field of more than 100 nominations, said Tim Pepe, special events coordinator for the foundation.

The foundation grants each winner an award of $3,000, to be used at their discretion, a trophy, award ring and well-deserved bragging rights.

“We believe that celebrating the teaching profession in Douglas County is … absolutely the right thing to do,” McGraw said. “Our teachers work extremely hard in the classroom and regardless of what’s going on in the world our teachers still put their hearts and souls into teaching in Douglas County.”

High school recipient Stroman teaches middle school and high school vocal music and orchestra at Cimarron Middle and Legend High schools in Parker. His career began in 1992 and he has been with the Douglas County school district for 16 years.

Stroman received his bachelor’s in music education from the University of Northern Colorado and his masters in education in the Diverse Learner Program from the University of Phoenix. In his career, he has taught band, choir, orchestra, general music and drama. Stroman is the founder of the Douglas County Children’s Chorus.

The Golden Apple Awards were a special night for Stroman and his wife, Ponderosa High School Spanish teacher Tina Stroman. The two met the day each began their careers, their first day on the job at Parker Vista Middle School, now known as Sierra Middle School. They shared another milestone, both named as nominees for year’s Golden Apple Awards.

They were rooting for each other, primarily because neither wanted to have to get up to give an acceptance speech, Stroman said.

“It was just a really wonderful event,” he said. “I think more than anything I want to let people know it’s an award that honors all teachers. It’s not just about me and winning — it’s an award that honors the profession. There are a lot of really wonderful teachers that are out there and this is an evening that honors teachers.”

Elementary school recipient Jojola is the literacy specialist and reading recovery teacher at Soaring Hawk Elementary in Castle Rock. She has been teaching for 24 years, 14 with the Douglas County School District.

She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at New Mexico State University and her masters in elementary education at the University of New Mexico. In addition to being a literacy specialist, she has also been a title one math resource teacher.

Jojola moved to Castle Rock and was hired at the district in 1995, when she was nine months pregnant. Surprised by her original hiring — she started work at the district when her now-13-year-old daughter was 11 days old — she was “shocked” to find herself the recipient of the Apple Award.

“I just know there are so many amazing teachers and I’m just one little piece of a puzzle that helps kids,” Jojola said. “It’s just a nice feeling that somebody thought I was an important part of that puzzle.”

The recipients who garner a Jones University Scholarship can use it to pursue either a master’s degree, with a scholarship value of $16,000 to $25,000, or a doctorate, valued up to $50,000.

Kurt Stroman intends to pursue his doctorate while Jojola remains undecided, after she interrupted plans to pursue her doctorate when she left New Mexico. Both were surprised by the scholarship, which was kept secret until the night of the awards.

Jones International University is the first fully-accredited university to go online, said Michael Hopkins, speaking on behalf of the university. The school supports educators across the nation and caters to the needs of working professionals, Hopkins said.

This is the first year Jones University joined the district to honor Apple recipients, with a goal to continue the tradition in the coming years.

“Jones International University is an outstanding partner of the Douglas County School District,” said Jim Christensen, superintendent of schools for the Douglas County School District. “Over the past few years, we have worked with JIU on a number of initiatives. We believe this new $1 million scholarship program will provide great opportunities for our teachers for their ongoing educational and training needs. We are very thankful to the remarkable staff at Jones International University for their leadership and impressive support.”

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