On Tuesday in the Mancos school gym, middle school teacher Ivy Dalley was presented with a plaque for placing in the top seven for 2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year.
Dalley, who is from Wisconsin, has been teaching for 10 years. At Mancos, she teaches sixth-grade English and social studies.
Colorado Department of Education’s Award Coordinator for Colorado Teacher of the Year Patty Gleason came to Mancos for the occasion, presenting the award to Dalley and telling the students a little about the award.
Gleason asked the students if any of them had teachers whom they would remember forever, and all students in the gym raised their hands.
“Teachers are incredibly important,” Gleason told students, noting that they are there to inspire and teach the next generation of lawyers, doctors, actors, singers, plumbers and more.
She also told students about the process to become Colorado Teacher of the Year, sharing that there are more than 60,000 teachers in Colorado.
“This is a really long application process,” Gleason said.
According to Gleason, the nomination portal was opened in January, and teachers, colleagues, parents and students could nominate a teacher to be in the running for teacher of the year.
When speaking to The Journal in September, Dalley said she still didn’t know who nominated her.
After teachers are nominated, Gleason said she reaches out to learn more about them before the application process starts.
“What I hear from all the teachers is that, ‘I’m not the best teacher in the state of Colorado,’” Gleason said. “It’s not about being the best teacher, it’s about being a teacher that makes an impact on a student and on a family and in a community.”
The lengthy application process included seven essay questions covering topics such as community involvement, what they teach, their purpose behind teaching and how the teacher helps shape the culture and climate of the school district.
After the essay, a video or “highlight reel” is done to cover who the teacher is and why they teach.
Dalley also provided letters of recommendations from fellow teachers, parents and students for the application.
After the field is narrowed down after the essay questions and video, the teacher is interviewed by a panel of 10 people who ask a variety of questions that may or may not have to do with teaching.
Dalley spoke next, sharing that the love and support she received from the school and community was the most special part of the process.
“I think the biggest part for me was realizing all the support and love that I had in the Mancos community,” Dalley said. “I panicked a bit having to write seven different essay questions that really reflected on who I was, but I realized that if I just look around, I had love and support from a lot of teachers here and students.”
“I had staff members who sat with me for hours to talk about who I wanted to be and who I was as a teacher and reflect on all of that,” Dalley continued. “That was probably my favorite part, reflecting with the people that I love in this community.”
In September, Dalley shared that her “why” is helping students realize that there is someone who believes in them and loves them.
“I teach middle school, and we all know how awkward it can be at that time in our lives,” she said. “I think I just really connect to middle schoolers and I connect to the way they think and learn.”
“They’re really my biggest ‘why.’ I want to show up every day and make sure they feel like someone cares about them and somebody’s on their team to help them realize the potential they all have inside of them,” she said.
Before presenting Dalley with her award, Gleason said that she came to Mancos in person to present the award so it could be done in front of Dalley’s colleagues and students.
“I want to talk to her students and to her colleagues because she wouldn’t be here without any of you,” Gleason said. “She talks about you in the application. She has a huge amount of passion and a love for the teaching craft, which she’s willing to share with others. It is also clear she always helps you learn and hold you guys accountable. It’s very clear that Dalley loves teaching and has dedicated her career to her students, and what she wants more than anything is to make the passion of learning inside of each of you guys.”
“Many of her colleagues talked about her commitment to the community and to the school,” she added. “She requires a great deal of you, but she cares deeply and makes sure that each of you succeeds. One of her recommendations summed it up best when they said, ‘She always strives for the absolute best for herself and her students, and it’s palpable when anybody enters her classroom. Her reach and positive impact extend well beyond her classroom.’”
Dalley was awarded a box of “teacher trinkets,” Colorado Teacher of the Year finalist plaque and a surprise of $1,200.