The Twelfth Annual Adams State University Educators Hall of Fame Ceremony on June 4, 2024, included a warm welcome from Adams State President David Tandberg, Ph.D., introductions by Master of Ceremonies Curtis Wilson, and a heartfelt address from Alamosa School District Assistant Superintendent Luis Murillo, Ph.D. They all voiced appreciation for professional educators and their positive impact on individuals, classes, and society. Honorees, or their representatives, expressed gratitude for Adams State and the skills and experiences they acquired in and out of the classroom.

The following were inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame:

Elementary Educators

Richard Maestas
A native of the San Luis Valley, Richard Maestas received his Adams State Bachelor of Arts in 1974 and his master’s degree in 1978. He was a dedicated educator for 20 years with a passion for teaching students with special needs. Maestas is bilingual, which was an important asset when communicating with many of his students and parents. He taught special education in grades two through eight with the Alamosa School District, retiring in 2002. Maestas also served on the Alamosa Education Association as the building representative for one year. Before attending college, Maestas was a Crew Chief on a Bell UH-1 helicopter in the Army for two years. He and his wife, Lenora, have three children — two are Adams State graduates — and five grandchildren.

Connie Marvel
Connie Marvel attended Adams State on a San Luis Valley Federal Savings and Loan (now SLV Federal Bank) Scholarship. She received her degree in 1975 and was an educator for 30 years. She entered the education profession as a paraprofessional; while working in California middle schools, she earned a teaching certification from San Francisco State University. Marvel taught in American Samoa, Wisconsin, and Colorado. She received her Master of Science from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point in 1993. At Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colo., Marvel and her students collaborated with local resources to engage in watershed studies in their neighborhood. Connie and her husband, Kim, have climbed all of Colorado’s fourteeners and visited all 63 US National Parks.

Antoinette Rodriguez
Antoinette Rodriguez received an Adams State Bachelor of Arts in 1977 and a Master of Arts in 1984 and served as an educator for 28 years. Before beginning her teaching career, Rodriguez developed and implemented “Urban Experiences,” a grant project that exposed sophomores and juniors to diverse work experiences in Denver and Boulder, Colo. During this time, she collaborated with Sierra Grande School and initiated ski trips and fostered community-school connections. Rodriguez was a non-traditional student when she received her bachelor’s degree and began teaching kindergarteners for the Alamosa School District. At the time, kindergarten operated on a half-day system and Rodriguez taught 30 children in the morning and another set of 30 in the afternoon. Being bilingual was an asset to her chosen profession and helped her connect with families.

Jack Signs, Jr.
After graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in 1968 from Adams State, Jack Signs, Jr. taught fifth grade in Sanford School District from 1968 until 1999. He received his Master of Arts from Adams State in 1982. From 1974 until 1999, Signs’ students participated in the Wellington Environment Study Area at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. He coached high school football, basketball, baseball, and track and middle school wrestling. His accomplishments include being named to the 2012 Colorado Volleyball and CHSAA Volleyball Official Halls of Fame. Signs received the Sanford Teacher of the Year Award and was a nominee for the SLV Educator of Year. He started the Sanford fourth through sixth grade noon-hour softball tournament in 1982, which continues today. He is a third-generation educator and has a granddaughter who is a fifth-generation educator.

Florence Bell Whiting (posthumous)
Florence Whiting began her teaching career in one-room schoolhouses after attending Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, Colo. While teaching with Denver Public Schools she met and married Robert Whiting. At age 50, Whiting completed her Bachelor of Arts from Adams State in 1955. She taught second grade at Boyd Elementary School. At the time, retirement was mandatory at 65 in the Alamosa School District but that didn’t stop her desire to work with students; she continued to teach at the Head Start for several years. Whiting was the 1979 Beta Sigma Phi Founder’s Day Woman of the Year. She was active in many community organizations and played the organ for St. Thomas Episcopal Church for over 30 years.

Ryan Gettman, Amanda Banks, Jack Signs, Jr., James Huerena, Donna Aggen, Connie Marvel, Antoinette Rodriguez, Richard Maestas, Jane Herrick
Pictured, left to right, front row: Ryan Gettman (accepting for his late father Harold Gettman), Amanda Banks (accepting for her late mother Cynthia Gettman), Jack Signs, Jr., James Huerena, Donna Aggen (accepting for her late husband Richard Aggen); back row: Connie Marvel, Antoinette Rodriguez, Richard Maestas, Jane Herrick (accepting for her late mother Florence Whiting).

Secondary Educators

Cynthia Gettman (posthumous)
Cynthia Brown Gettman received her degree in education in 1968. She started her teaching career in 1970 at J.W. Fair Middle School in San Jose, Calif., where she taught special education for 20 years in the subjects of English and history. She was also the drama director, staging two plays a year. In addition, she taught special education preparation courses at San Jose State University. She was active in the Gilroy Garlic Festival, which raised millions of dollars for organizations in the community. She also taught English as a second language to adults, after retiring from the public-school systems. She volunteered with her church and community organizations. She and her husband, Harold Gettman, have two children and three grandchildren.

Harold Gettman (posthumous)
A first-generation college graduate, Harold “Doogie” Gettman received his Adams State Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969. After college, he and his wife, Cynthia, moved to California where he taught primary grades while obtaining his special education credential. He soon accepted a teaching and coaching position at Mt. Pleasant High School in East San Jose. While teaching full time, he also served as department chairperson for the special education department. By the mid-1980s, he had moved into special education administration, where he supported and mentored special education teachers. Like his wife, he was very active in charitable organizations including the Special Olympics of Northern California. After 31 years in education, he continued volunteering to benefit children. The Gettmans loved to travel, especially with family and friends.

James Huerena
A native of Denver, Colo., James Huerena, a gifted athlete, received many awards and recognition as a high school and college football player. He received his Adams State Bachelor of Arts in 1992, having played on the football team from 1987-1990. During his college career, Huerena was a three-year starting running back and four-year letterman. He recently retired from the field of education after 30 years, nearly all served in the Widefield District 3 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Huerena served for 20 years as a coach for a variety of high school teams including head of the boys’ golf team and assistant coach for the girls’ team. He and his wife, Tammy Huerena, also an Adams State graduate, have two children.


Richard Aggen (posthumous)
An Adams State student athlete, Aggen became the head wrestling coach at Fort Lupton, Colo., after receiving his Bachelor of Arts in 1978. He was the district athletic director at Fort Lupton from 1992-1999. Aggen earned Coach of the Year in 1981, 1986, and 1987 and coached 15 individual state champions. After earning his Master of Arts from Colorado State University, Aggen continued in Fort Lupton, working with middle and high school students. He received the 2013 Lifetime Service in Wrestling Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He culminated his career at Adams 12 School District as executive director of facilities. Aggen and his wife, Donna, were married for 40 years; they have two children and 4 grandchildren.