Award Winners Biographies

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District 60 / Pueblo City Schools
2017 Award Winners

Christina Benavidez

Christina Benavidez has mastered the art of student motivation and engagement with an uncanny ability to grow well-rounded human beings through the classroom experience. Despite not having a physical classroom of her own, she creates an atmosphere conducive to learning and inquiry through hands-on engagements (like Camp Invention and a district energy competition) that promote critical thinking and problem solving. She seeks to connect with all 400 of the students in the school, helping them realize their potential and their individual gifts.  Creative, cutting-edge ideas that engage and speak to students. Seeking contests to showcase the diverse talents of the students. A natural leader, she is not afraid to take risks and welcomes the challenges with open-mindedness and a positive attitude


Nominated by Nikki Oreskovich and Monica Valenzuela

David Henderson

David Henderson seeks to stimulate students’ innate curiosity to make them inquirers able to research information independently so they may have a lifetime love of learning. His goad that students can synthesize what they have learned band be able to think critically about complex issues from multiple perspectives and arrive at reasoned decisions. Using a guiding question for each lesson taught, Henderson uses political cartoons and storytelling as well as written and oral evaluations to examine the social, economic and political causes of historic and current events. He challenges students to step out of their comfort zones and be risk takers.

Nominated by Christi Kurtz and Ray LeMasters

Kathleen Lewis

Kathleen Lewis enriches the lives of children with autism whom many have written off as unteachable. She designs integrated lessons that address literacy, art, and social skills through multiple learning modalities and utilizes a variety of calming strategies such as flexible seating, weighted blankets, relaxation spaces with indirect lighting with lamps rather than standard overhead lights to help students maintain a level of calm so they can focus and learn in a safe and supportive environment. Parent support letters spotlighted the tremendous growth of their children after working with Lewis, who stopped one student from regularly running away and allowed another to express himself for the first time in his life.

Nominated by Eric DeCesaro and Emily Johnson

Kathrine Thomson

Known as the “resident historian,” Kathrine Thomson uses local history to demonstrate global concepts, which causes her students to think critically about their own history and surroundings. She has devoted her life to keeping the history of Colorado alive. Her classroom is built on mutual respect between educator and student and is able to acclimate students to college level courses with east due to her straightforward style about expectations and preparation. She believes that every day is an opportunity to participate in local, state, national, and world citizenship, and she seeks to ignite students’ learning and spark their interests in hopes that they will become lifelong learners and engaged adults.

Nominated by Heather Hull and Deanna Strait


Val Vigil
Executive Assistant –
Pueblo City Schools