CRHS' Bates wins Teacher of the Year

CRHS' Bates wins Teacher of the Year
Camilla Bates is Garfield Re-2Think back to 1988.

Ronald Reagan was President. The average price for a gallon of gasoline was 91 cents. Big, Die Hard and Rain Man were tops at the movie theater and six-year-old first grader, Camilla Bates decided to be a teacher.

In 2019, a gallon of gasoline costs $2.50 or more. Movies are available on demand, The Avengers top the theater sales and Camilla Bates has not only become a teacher, but her dedication, skill and passion have put her at the top of the profession and she earned the 2019 L.S. Wood Teacher of the Year award.

“It’s really awesome to be recognized,” said Camilla wiping away tears of joy after learning she earned the award appropriately on the tail end of National Teacher Appreciation Week. “We put in so many hours and so much work, getting something like this is such a big thank you. It’s a perfect way to end Teacher Appreciation Week”
The L.S. Wood Charitable Trust was created through the will of Mr. Leighton S. Wood, who died in 1965, leaving most of his fortune in trust primarily for educational purposes. At the time of his death, Mr. Wood was president of the Mid-Continent Coal and Coke Co. that had operations in Carbondale.

Don Parkison is the LS Wood Charitable Trust Administrator. He said that honoring teachers is exactly the legacy Leighton Wood wanted to leave. 

“The primary characteristic we are looking for comes from Mr. Wood. He thought it would be nice that the kids of miners would not to fail to go to college due to a lack of funding, and to reward teachers that inspire the love of learning.”

Coal Ridge High School Principal Dr. Jackie Davis said that Camilla Bates is the epitome of the inspirational teacher.
“I love walking into her classroom to see the joy of learning. You see all of the students engaged and you can see they love learning,” said Dr. Davis at a presentation before the Garfield Re-2 School Board. “If you were to look up the definition of the master teacher, her picture would be right there.”
Camilla has been teaching Spanish at Coal Ridge for 13-years and over time, her teaching strategies have evolved. She only speaks Spanish to her students and recently began writing books to engage them. That is where she sees the passion for Spanish erupt in her class.

“They want more,” she explained. “They began reading the books and immediately wanted to know when the next chapters will be available. Then they began making suggestions, and I would include those suggestions into the next chapters. They would be so excited to see their ideas included. That process has brought a lot of kids to life.”

Those engagement strategies foster a love for learning in her students.

“When you have students that say they wish they could have your class all day long, it warms your heart,” said Camilla. “It lets you know that they feel welcome and I want every kid to feel welcome in my room.”

The L. S. Wood Teacher of the Year award rotates between grade levels. This year was high school teachers. Last year’s recipient was Rifle Middle School’s John Wisniewski. The last high school award winner was Rifle High School’s Kyle Mickelson. Next year’s recipient will be an elementary teacher. The last elementary school winner was Kathryn Senor Elementary’s Allison Rickert.