ALAMOSA—The Adams State University seventh 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 1 in the Student Union Building banquet rooms, recognized Eugene Medina, Connie Chavez, Doris Martin, Roland Crowder, Placido Romero, Suzan Robins, Walt Paulson; Lonnie Rogers, Gary Robins, Dr. Dennis Nash, Dr. Antonio Esquibel, and Helen Gonzales.
The room was filled with family, friends, and former colleagues who supported and encouraged the educators along their path. Below are the summaries which only begin the scratch the surface of those who dedicated their professional lives to education.
Connie Chavez received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Adams State and taught for 31 years, including at Sierra Grande School District. She was awarded the Sierra Grande Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 1988 and 1998. In 2001, Chavez received the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program to Japan. She received a scholarship from the Forbes-Trinchera Ranch to participate in the “Outdoor Adventure” workshop conducted by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Chavez was also selected to attend one of NASA’s Educational Workshops for Elementary School Teachers (NEWEST) at the Johnson Space Center. In 1996 she received the Lockheed Martin Teacher Award. And in 1990, she received the RMAG Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award.
Doris Marie Martin graduated from Adams State and spent her career in education for 31 years. Doris taught at La Jara Elementary and Manassa Elementary in kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade. She also was the Destination Imagination coach for 5 years, hosted 15 student teachers in her classroom, and served as the secretary for her District Accountability Committee.
Eugene Medina received his bachelor’s degree from Adams State and dedicated 30 years of service to the Sierra Grande School District. During his tenure at Sierra Grande, he taught science and art, served as a counselor, bus driver, basketball coach, migrant school teacher/director and mentored hundreds of students. He instituted project-based learning before it was considered an effective strategy. He exposed students to the world around them, not through a textbook, but through hands-on exposure. Students would draw water from an area pond to learn about paramecium under a microscope and they would walk through a variety of terrain to learn about the flora and fauna of the area. Medina served on the Fort Garland Water and Sanitation District Board, is a member of the American Legion and the Blanca/Ft. Garland Volunteer First Department. He was also recognized for 15 years of service on the Blanca/Ft. Garland Community Center Board.
Roland “Rol” Doyle Crowder graduated from Adams State with a bachelor’s degree in math, later certifying in elementary and secondary education. He was offered a job at his old elementary school, Waverly, in 1950 where he taught all subjects to grades 5 through 8th grade for the next 33 years to approximately 25-30 students at a time while also being the gym coach, unofficial principal, custodian and occasional bus driver. For P.E., he had a concrete slab for basketball until 1966 when they erected a new school with a gym. He was given living quarters at the school, $2100 year plus $700 for custodial work.
Suzan L. Robins received her bachelor’s degree from Adams State and has been an educator for 41 years. She taught 30.5 years between Sierra Grande and North Conejos school districts. After retiring from teaching, she substituted for 10.5 years. Robins was Arby’s SLV Cheer Director in 1989. In 1990 she was the Outstanding Teacher of the Year at Centauri High School. In 2006, Robins received an award for outstanding service to the students of North Conejos School District. She has been a National Honor Society sponsor, Junior Class sponsor and a coach for the Gifted and Talented Program. Suzan served on the North Conejos School Board and was a mentor in the Conejos County Mentoring Program. She started the Conejos Gift of Giving to provide Christmas presents for the children of Conejos County. The program has provided over 600 gifts for children in the county.
Erwin Romero earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Adams State. He has been in education for 25 years including 17 years at Centauri High School. He was the principal at Antonito Jr-Sr High School for 3 years. He taught mathematics at North Conejos School District and college algebra at Trinidad State Jr. College. In 1998, Erwin received an award for Outstanding Secondary Mathematics Teacher by Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics. He also taught mathematics for the Upward Bound Program for 13 years and in 2002 he was inducted in to the Upward Bound Hall of Fame. Erwin is a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Walt Paulson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Adams State and his superintendent endorsement from Western State College. Paulson was an educator for 33 years including positions as a teacher, principal and superintendent for Sangre de Cristo Schools. He believes that there is no such thing as bad kids, just kids that need a chance and someone to believe in them. Honors include Honor Roll, Who’s Who in Education; CHSAA, National Principal’s Association; National Association of School Administration. Paulson has served on the Board of Alamosa Senior Citizens; Welcome Center; and was instrumental in getting 911 in six SLV counties.
Gary R. Robins earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Adams State. He has been an educator for 18 years, including a teacher and assistant superintendent in the North Conejos School District and superintendent at Sierra Grand School District and then Director of the San Luis Valley BOCES. He has received the Outstanding Service to the Colorado BOCS Association President 1977-1978; Colorado Department of Education: Certificate of Appreciation of outstanding service to public schools of Colorado, PURSUANT to equal opportunity, 1980; Outstanding Services as Director of SLV BOCS and benefiting the students and schools of the San Luis Valley, 1981; CBA Stanley A. Leftwich Award for outstanding contribution to Cooperative Education in Colorado, 1981.
Lonnie M. Rogers earned a bachelor’s degree from Adams State and a master’s degree from Western State College and has been an educator for 34 years. He taught in Creede, where he later became principal and then superintendent, until he retired in 1993. Rogers has been a member of, BPOE (Exalted Ruler), Creede Rotary Club, Creede County Commissioner, Creede Community Center, Creede Junior Chamber of Commerce, Creede Volunteer Fire Department (lifetime member of the Colorado State Fire Fighters Association), Colorado Association of School Executives, Southern Peaks Principals’ Association, and the San Luis Valley Superintendents Association. Lonnie was inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame in 2001.
Antonio Esquibel, Ph.D. earned his bachelor’s degree from Adams State, his master’s degree from New Mexico Highlands University, and thn his Ph.D. from University of New Mexico. He has been in education for 40 years. He taught at Metropolitan State University of Denver, CU Medical School; Southern Colorado State College and Englewood Public Schools. He has published three books and is currently writing his memoirs entitled The Colonia Kid: from the Mexican Colonia in Lamar, Colorado, to the Board of Trustees at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Awards and special honors include Cesar Chavez Leadership Award for Outstanding Leadership, Hispanic Annual Salute Award, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education 1973 Distinguished Achievement Award. At Metropolitan State University of Denver, Esquibel was a Board of Trustees Member, Vice President of Student Affairs and Professor of Spanish and Chicano Studies. He was an Instructor and Director of Office of Minority Student Affairs University of Colorado Medical School. He was also Director of Teacher Corps, Southern Colorado State College.
Helen L. Gonzales earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Adams State. She has been an educator for 23 years, including teaching at the elementary level in San Acacio and at Sierra Grande Schools. She also taught in higher education at Adams State, Columbia University in New York, University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Washington State College, and UCLA. Gonzales was recognized for her faithful service and dedicated leadership as a trustee of the Sierra Grade Scholarship Endowment Trust and was awarded the status of Trustee Emeritus. Gonzales and Levi, her husband, were awarded “The Lifetime Community Service Award” for starting the Fort Garland Revitalization Committee. The Fort Garland Park was named in honor of Helen and Levi.
Dennis B. Nash, Ph.D., earned his bachelor’s degree from Adams State, his master’s degree from Colorado State University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. He has been in education for 35. He taught English and public speaking and directed plays at the high school level. In higher education he served as coordinator of Graduate Studies, director of Clinical Services and associate dean and head of School of Communicative Disorders at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. In addition to working with brain-injured patients, he has worked with many patients who have undergone laryngectomy surgery, the removal of the larynx, which is usually a result of cancer caused by use of tobacco. Nash received the Wisconsin Speech, Language and Hearing Association Lifetime Achievement Award and Salute. The Salute was given for volunteer involvement with the local and state units of the American Cancer Society and for his efforts to reduce the incidence of cancer. He volunteered for 30 years with the American Cancer Society. Nash served on a committee to establish a regional hospice program. His other committees and organizations include the Child Passenger Safety Council, Special Olympics State Meet, United Way, Healthy Portage County, and he was a lifetime member BPOE (Elks).