Educators inducted into Hall of Fame

(05-08-2014)

Pamela Herrmann-Thompson, John Atencio, Sandra Kay Gilletti-Hay, Lauren Bussey, Kay Watkins, Arvilla Weldon, Donna Kingery, Phyllis Hester Simpson

Pictured,  (left to right) back row: Pamela Herrmann-Thompson, John Atencio, Sandra Kay Gilletti-Hay, Lauren "Larry" Bussey, and Kay Watkins (accepting for James Craft): front row: Arvilla Weldon (accepting for Lynn Leroy Weldon), Donna Kingery (accepting for Ruth Florence Remke Bruns), and Phyllis Hester Simpson (accepting for Harriet Rebecca Dalzell Hester).

The Adams State University Third Annual Educator Hall of Fame Celebration hosted outstanding individuals whose chosen profession created opportunities for students to achieve academic and professional success. The ceremony, held May 7 in the Student Union Building banquet rooms, recognized John Atencio, Ruth Florence Remke Bruns (posthumous), Larry "Lauren" Bussey, Dr. James H. Craft (posthumous), Sandra Kay Gilletti-Hay, Harriet Rebecca Dalzell Hester (posthumous), Pamela Herrmann-Thompson, and Dr. Lynn Leroy Weldon (posthumous).

As they accepted their awards, the recipients expressed appreciation for their students and the support of family, friends and colleagues. Pursuing a career in education means dedication and commitment to improving the lives of others. The bios below reflect a few of the accomplishments of those honored.

Elementary Educators

Gilletti-Hay earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Adams State. Her career began in Moffat and she later taught in Alamosa. Along with teaching every grade level, she held various administrative positions, and taught at the college level. She received the Master Teacher for the State of Colorado/Elementary and Secondary Migrant Education and was honored in "Who's Who among America's Teachers," in 1990 and 1992. She also taught at the Migrant School in the summer. She said: "I thank all the students who have passed through my doors."

Hester, one of Adams State's first graduates in 1926, obtained a Lifetime Teachers Certificate and then taught for 21 years. She helped others learn to teach what they knew and fostered a desire to learn more.

Secondary Educators

Atencio received his Bachelor of Arts from Adams State and has been an educator for over 40 years. He said: "Adams State gave him a strong foundation." Atencio speaks, reads and writes in several different languages. He was Employee of the Year for SRDI and Teacher of the Year for Red Mesa High School in Arizona. He enjoyed working with at-risk students and counseling in areas of drug and alcohol and career. He broke the record for the number of students on the Intensive RE Guidance Program, drawing in more funding to provide services for students at the Shiprock Reservation in New Mexico.

Bruns graduated cum laude from the University of Colorado. She was instrumental in beginning a kindergarten program in Alamosa and a hot lunch program. She was honored by the GFWC Colorado Federation of Women's Clubs with the "Woman of Achievement Award," in recognition and appreciation of her outstanding service in the community and the nation. Her daughter, Donna Kingery accepted the award on her behalf, saying: "My mom dedicated her life to students."

Post-Secondary Educator

When Dr. Kay Watkins, emeritus professor of chemistry, accepted the award on behalf of Craft, emeritus professor of biology, he said: "Dr. Craft was an excellent administrator and a great person to work for." Craft was chairman of the Science and Mathematics Department at Adams State from 1946 until 1975. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Science, the American Bryological Society, Sigma Xi, Blue Key and Phi Delta Kappa. He held a number of civic posts including director of the Alamosa County Civil Defense Agency, chairman of the Alamosa Planning Commission, and chairman of Alamosa Housing Authority. After retirement he was elected an Alamosa County Commissioner.

Many Adams State alumni will tell you Weldon, emeritus professor of psychology, was one of their favorite professors. He came to Adams State in 1957, and remained until his retirement. His wife, Arvilla said: "Adams State was the only job he ever wanted. He loved his students." Weldon was listed in "Who's Who in Colorado," "Leaders in Education," "Outstanding Educators of America," and "Dictionary of International Biography." He challenged his students to think for themselves and explore with an open mind.

Administrator

Bussey was the superintendent and principal for Sierra Grande School District. In 1997, he and a group of students started a business rebuildin computers and received recognition form Lt. Governor Gail Schoettler. He became involved in the Ft. Garland Revitalization Scholarship Committee providing scholarships to graduates of Sierra Grande High School. He contributed his time to a scholarship committee, and later a charitable foundation which has supported over 130 graduates of Sierra Grande with $170,000 in scholarships since 1990. He was the outstanding volunteer in 2009 by Colorado Trout Unlimited.

The first in her family to graduate with a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Adams State, Herrmann-Thompson also earned her Elementary Administrative and Superintendent's Certification from the University of Denver. She has been an educator for over 33 years at Sierra Grande School, Alamosa School, and Centennial School Districts as a coach, teacher, principal and superintendent. She has received many awards including Milken Family foundation National Principal Educator Award; John and Gladys Bates Human Relations Award, and Outstanding Elementary Mathematics Teacher Award. She was appointed to numerous state boards and presented at local, state and national conferences.

Ted Morrison, who had the idea for the Educator Hall of Fame, was recognized by the other committee members including Edward Atencio, Kurt Cary, associate chair of the Teacher Education Department; Lori Laske, director of Adams State Alumni Relations; Don Stegman, emeritus professor of English; and Elaine Wenta, Teacher Education administrative assistance. Wenta was also recognized for her time and effort organizing the event.