Neil Shupe, who has taught everything from biology to advanced placement chemistry to, now, advanced manufacturing, received the St. Vrain Valley School District teacher of the year award during Friday night’s Tribute to Teachers.

“I went to college, and in the first semester, I struggled and failed a few of my classes,” Shupe said in a prerecorded video aired during the virtual awards ceremony. “I really just needed to get some extra credits. And so, I worked with one of my chemistry professors at the elementary school, and we were just working with the students doing these little science experiments, really fun stuff.”

From there, Shupe said, he began to realize what he was truly passionate about.

“I love working with kids,” said Shupe, who teaches at the Career Development Center in Longmont. “(It) really just opened that door for me to say ‘Yeah this is what I’m good at. This is what I enjoy.’ “

Shupe is now in his 13th year of teaching.

St. Vrain Valley Schools Education Foundation on Friday held the annual event virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the change in venue, community participation for teacher nominations increased by 50% from 2020, said Josh Atherton, the foundation’s executive director.

“I think our community realized that our teachers need to be recognized during challenging times,” he said during the event, streamed on YouTube. “And so, I’m very very proud of the committee recognized and our teachers and really appreciate the support.”

Kira Hanvey, a student at St. Vrain Online Global Academy, said Shupe goes above and beyond to ensure his students understand the materials being taught.

“He’s super engaging,” she said. “He wants to sit down, take the time to explain something that’s either wrong or how to better fix it. He doesn’t just come in, sit down and do it for you.”

During Friday’s virtual event, Don Haddad, superintendent of St. Vrain Valley Schools, recognized the challenges the pandemic has created over the past year for staff at St. Vrain Valley Schools and thanked employees at the school district. He also touched on President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan and how it relates to staff at St. Vrain Valley Schools.

“What we do in public education, what you do as a teacher in public education, is you are responsible for the human infrastructure,” he said. “The human infrastructure that you develop and grow every single day in your classrooms. That’s what makes America great, and that’s what makes the teaching profession the greatest profession of all.”

District Level Awards

St. Vrain Valley Schools Teacher of the Year

Career Development Center

Teacher of the Year Finalist for Area 1

Nathan Wilcox, recognized for having energy and passion when teaching.

STEM and Robotics

Thunder Valley K-8

Teacher of the Year Finalist for Area 2

Jim Dornan, recognized for his dedication and continuous encouragement.

AP US History, Philosophy, Debate

Longmont High

Teacher of the Year Finalist for Area 3

Krystyna Farquhar, recognized for making an impact on climate and culture at her school.

Special Education

Longmont Estates Elementary

Teacher of the Year Finalist for Area 4

Leigh Anne Emberg, recognized for helping students realize their strengthens and be successful.

*Teacher of the Year award winner for each school denoted with an asterisk.

Alpine Elementary

LaunchED Virtual Academy K-5

Karen Olson

Abigail Keohler

Shawna Darcy

This content was originally published here.

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