Aspen Elementary teachers recognized | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Elementary teachers recognized

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The second batch of the Distinguished Teacher Awards has been doled out, and three Aspen Elementary School teachers have been honored – only a little earlier than expected.

The three women selected for the award – Betsy Ann Anastas, Lynn Eastley and Betsy Schroeder – were supposed to find out about the honor Tuesday morning during a special schoolwide assembly. Unfortunately, the winners’ names were mistakenly printed in the Aspen High School graduation guide last week, and an emergency AES faculty meeting was organized on Friday to let the winners know about the honor in person.

Though the district had to juggle their plans, Schroeder said officials didn’t spoil the surprise.

“I was shocked and just overwhelmed – and so honored,” the kindergarten teacher said.

Though the honor is a shock in itself – winners receive a $10,000 check if they are one of 11 teachers selected for the award each year – Schroeder was also surprised to hear that, though she’s retiring this summer after 33 years with the district, she was still eligible for the award.

“It’s such a thrill – I’ve been teaching in Aspen since 1970,” she said. “It makes me feel like I made a little difference in our schools.”

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Schroeder said she’s not sure where her DTA “grant” will be put to use, but does note that her family’s summer cabin in Minnesota could use a deck.

Anastas is another longtime Aspen Elementary faculty member, a two-decade veteran of the school. Currently a second-grade teacher, Anastas has filled many roles since joining the district in 1981. She began her career with Aspen Elementary as a library aide and eventually moved up to become a kindergarten teacher.

Anastas might have been selected as a 2002 Distinguished Teacher, but it’s a title she’ll have to share around the house – her husband, Aspen High Spanish teacher Charlie Anastas, picked up his own Distinguished Teacher Award last year.

Eastley has been with AES for almost a decade, after joining the staff as a reading paraprofessional in 1993. She moved to the classroom in 1997 and now teaches the first grade in a room directly across from Schroeder’s.

“They’re great teachers,” Schroeder said of her co-winners. “They’re very special people – it’s an honor to be put in the same category.”

Schroeder also recognized local businessman Dick Butera, who sponsors the DTA each year – and says he’ll continue to do so for the next eight years.

“It’s such an amazing thing that Dick Butera does, and to value education the way he does – it makes you feel very honored to be in this profession,” she said.

The four remaining awards (and the money that accompanies them) will be distributed today at a special ceremony at Aspen Middle School.