After a lengthy application and interview process, sixth grade teacher Ivy Dalley of Mancos School District RE-6 was recently announced as one of the top seven contenders for Colorado’s Teacher of the Year award.
Dalley, who is from Wisconsin, has been a teacher for 10 years and teaches English and social studies. Dalley said she found out in March or April that she had been nominated for the award, but still doesn’t know who nominated her.
After finding out about her nomination, Dalley underwent a lengthy application process that included seven essays and a video about herself. She also had to provide her resume and letters of recommendation to accompany the application when it was submitted in June.
Dalley said the essay questions covered topics about her involvement in the community, what she teaches, her purpose behind teaching and how she helps shape the culture and climate in the school district. The video covered who she is and why she teaches.
“It’s like a highlight reel,” Dalley said.
Dalley said her “why” in teaching is helping students feel like there is someone who loves, cares for and believes in 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.
At first, Dalley said she thought she would become a kindergarten teacher, but after doing her student teaching in a sixth-grade classroom, she realized sixth grade was where her heart was.
“I couldn’t ever leave them,” she said. Sixth grade is the best grade!”
After passing the first round in the application process, Dalley went on to the interview phase, where she was interviewed by a panel of about 12 people on Zoom about many different topics surrounding teaching, budgeting, social media and more.
If selected as Colorado Teacher of the Year, Dalley would be required to fulfill various commitments in that role.
“There’s quite a few speaking commitments,” along with other obligations, she said.
It was after the interview portion had finished that Dalley learned she was one of the top seven for the award.
As a teacher in a rural district and a former rural district student, Dalley said being nominated and being named in the top seven is a big honor, and she hopes to bring awareness to the good things happening at rural districts in Southwest Colorado.
“It feels like this is what I was meant to be doing, and I’m so excited that it highlights our rural districts down in the Southwest corner,” she said. “That’s probably my favorite part, because you come into the Mancos school district and any one of the teachers I work with deserves this prize and this honor, and I want to highlight all the work that rural teachers are doing down here.”
“I grew up in a rural district as well, and Mancos was the place I wanted to be,” she said. “This is where I wanted to raise my own kids, and this is the community I really want to be part of.”
The teacher of the year will be named in late October.
If she is named Colorado Teacher of the Year, Dalley will be in the running for the National Teacher of the Year award and will travel to Washington D.C. to be entered in that competition against other teachers of the year from other states.