Update: Gilbert Heights Teacher Wins Educator of the Year

Community  /  Employees  /  News 3 medals: From left to right. Photo of Francesca, OnPoint Prize logo and photo of Michelle Colbert

We are very pleased to announce that two DDSD teachers were recognized by the OnPoint’s Prize for Excellence in Education – Educator of the Year contest!

Francesca Aultman, a fifth grade teacher at Gilbert Heights, was named the K-8 Educator of the Year. Michelle Colbert, an art teacher at Fir Ridge Campus, was awarded the Circle of Excellence.

Our David Douglas community is very lucky to have these two stars working in our district. Thank you Francesca and Michelle for all you do for our students!

Francesca Aultman – Educator of the Year (K-8)

On May 21 Francesca was named the K-8 Educator of the year! As the winner, OnPoint will pay her mortgages for one full year and donate $2,500 to Gilbert Heights Elementary.

“I see it as a privilege to work with students and families from all over the world who exemplify strength, resilience, the importance of community and resourcefulness. Most days, I’m sure my students teach me more than I do them! I can honestly say I grow to love each and every one of my students. I miss them on the weekends, I think of them over breaks, I keep my fridge and cabinets stocked with little snacks for when I see them fading, I cheer them on in their successes and I mourn with them when they need it. They are truly a daily blessing in my life.”
– Francesca Aultman

“Francesca meets the needs of all her students so that they can grow. She looks carefully at each student to determine what will move that student forward in his or her social, emotional, and academic development. Then, she does everything in her power to apply the “just right” strategy, resource, or approach to make the magic happen for that kid.”
Shane M. Bassett, Principal, Gilbert Heights Elementary School

“For the past three years, I have witnessed Mrs. Aultman literally change the trajectory of students’ lives for the better through her commitment to her craft. She dreams BIG for them and shows them the steps they need to take in order to achieve goals.”
Sody Puth Fearn, Title 1 Reading Specialist, Gilbert Heights Elementary

Francesca understands the centrality of positive human relationship to success as an educator. She has been an early and expert implementer of Community Circles, which is a strategy that she uses to ensure that her students are socially and emotionally centered each morning and throughout the day. She has also shifted her curriculum to reflect the diverse student groups she works with through incorporating texts such an Esperanza Rising and lessons that are relevant to students and their experiences. During the most recent school year 89% of her student passed the SBAC English Language Arts test and she has demonstrated a track record of above average student growth for both gifted and struggling students. She sits on several school improvement teams and has served as a member of Gilbert Height’s Building Leadership Team, 21st Century Site Council, Student Intervention Team, and Core Literacy Team.

Michelle Colbert – Circle Of Excellence Recipient

Circle of Excellence recipients educators will receive a $1,500 cash award plus a $1,000 donation for their schools.

“Michelle Colbert is a highly valued teaching member of our building. Her assignment has been an art teacher but by only saying she is an art teacher does not give her the justice she deserves. Michelle is, in my opinion, a truly gifted educator. She quickly develops a good rapport with her students, establishes solid routines and inspires her students not only through her teachings of art but through the personal conversations she has with each of them.

She takes an active interest in the well-being of each of her students. Her students respond to her engaging approach to education and genuine interest in them. Under Michelle’s guidance and encouragement, her students consistently find their self-worth as well as their inner artist.

Over the last two years, Michelle has started a Career Technical Education (CTE) program at our school. This provides students of all ages with the academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers and to become lifelong learners. She coined the phrase, “Pathways Out of Poverty” and given our student population, it stands true. She inspires them to look beyond their current standard of life and to know that today does not have to be the same as yesterday.”
Amy Straw, Principal, Fir Ridge Campus

Michelle engages students through art and honors their voices through a variety of original and engaging projects. Her class gives each student the opportunity to express themselves by talking about real issues they are facing in a safe and supportive environment. One of her standout lessons is a Micro-Aggression Awareness Program that give students a chance to reflect on their own experiences with micro-aggressions through art. Through her Industrial Arts program students also gain exposure to a variety of different trades and trade skills. They learn 3-D printing and CAD, CNC machining, laser engraving, robotics and electrical engineering, circuit boarding, graphic design, woodworking, and each student learns how to manufacture their very own skateboard. Michelle also facilitates a Students Showcase, which is a talent show, art show and poetry slam and runs an after school art club.