North Fork Times
Sunday August 02, 2015

b01 cocker1There’s nothing like a huge surprise at an awards assembly. Teachers expect students to receive the awards.

Twice at such events, members of the selection committee for the second North Fork Teacher Appreciation Award by the Cocker Kids’ Foundation turned the tables and presented awards to teachers.
First, on May 8, at Hotchkiss High School, Eric Hollembeak received a Teacher of the Year Award. Then on May 21, at Paonia Elementary School, Jodi Simpson received the honor as well. Both received checks for $5,000.

The 2014 awards were sponsored by the Cocker Kids’ Foundation, Vegetation Management West, Hotchkiss Automotive, Smith Fork Ranch, Cottonwood Kennels and Coldwell Banker.
“As a group, we hold all teachers in high esteem and want to thank all of our educators for the incredible effort you expend each and every day on behalf of the children of our valley,” Pam Bliss said.
The foundation received fewer nominations this year, but the nominations received “were of very high quality and expressed high regard for many North Fork teachers. So much so that our board could not decide on just one single teacher. Therefore, we elected to award a $5,000 cash award to two teachers in our community,” Bliss said.
Hollembeak and Simpson were each named the 2014 Teacher of the Year “for [their] ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities, for [their] superior teaching techniques, for [their] broad understanding of ever-changing educational trends, for [their] compassionate relationship with students, parents and colleagues, for [their] concern with [their] own professional development and for the development of [their]  students.”

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