Birthdays, retirements and crystal apples. The Golden Schools Foundation hosted its annual Teacher Recognition Award ceremonies on May 10 this year. This year’s recipients are Patti Nielson, art …
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Birthdays, retirements and crystal apples.
The Golden Schools Foundation hosted its annual Teacher Recognition Award ceremonies on May 10 this year.
This year’s recipients are Patti Nielson, art teacher at Mitchell Elementary School; Rob Phillips, general music teacher Mitchell Elementary School; and Natalie Fish, a kindergarten teacher at Welchester Elementary School.
Each year, the school communities nominate teachers for the award, and the recipients are chosen by the Golden Schools Foundation. The foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that serves all of Golden’s neighborhood articulation schools. It raises and distributes funds to help all Golden students achieve excellence in education.
The foundation received 29 nominations this year. Along with the crystal apple recognition award, teachers receive $1,000 to be used in their classrooms.
At Welchester, Fish received the award during a special morning assembly that was attended by the entire school — about 270 students and their teachers. It doubled as a birthday celebration, and Fish was unaware she was the recipient of the Teacher Recognition Award until the crystal apple was presented to her.
Some people imagine a beach or an exotic, faraway destination as their happy place, but “this is my happy place,” Fish said. “I love the families and (the Welchester) staff. And my kids and the relationships I have with them. I do it for the kids.”
Fish, 36, began her career as a teacher as a paraprofessional educator at the former Pleasant View Elementary School and joined Welchester in 2008. She plans on using the $1,000 to purchase a rug for group time — because she does not have one in her classroom — and will likely refer to the students for the rest of the funds.
Later that afternoon, Nielson and Phillips were surprised with their Teacher Recognition Awards during their retirement parties.
They each received a crystal apple, and the Teacher Recognition Award money will go toward Mitchell’s art and music departments.
Nielson, 55, of Lakewood started teaching 32 years ago. She has always been an art teacher and her career spans numerous Jeffco schools, including Columbine High School from 1995-1999. She joined Mitchell 12 years ago.
Nielson’s favorite part about teaching is when students “create something they’re really proud of,” she said. “They accomplish more than they think they can.”
Her retirement plans include continuing to watercolor, learn to paint with oils and teach art lessons from her basement.
Phillips, 59, of Arvada, a Wheat Ridge native, started teaching in 1984, but then enlisted in the Marine Corps and served it for six years. He came back to teaching in Jeffco schools in 1990. He taught at Mitchell for 18 years.
Phillips is retiring from teaching, but has applied for a job with the Wyoming Army National Guard. If he gets the job, he will go on active duty for three years.
Phillips enjoyed his time at Mitchell and noted the school is a special community of wonderful, professional people.
But “without the kids, it’s just a job. You do it because you love kids,” Phillips said. “Teaching is the best job you’d ever love, but you’ve gotta love it.”
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