Basalt teacher earns $10,000 |

Basalt teacher earns $10,000

Aspen Times writer

Persistence paid off Tuesday for longtime Basalt Middle School Teacher Judy Palmer.

She was selected as Basalt’s Most Inspirational Teacher of 2003-04 and awarded with a check for $10,000. She was honored at the Basalt Town Council meeting, which her husband, Warren, tricked her into coming to with a story that he was being honored for coaching.

“I’m very seldom speechless, but I was then,” Judy said. “I just felt so blessed. Throughout your career you get lovely notes thanking you for what you’ve done, but this community-wide situation was amazing.”

Palmer began her career in Nebraska but has been teaching in the Basalt

schools for 29 years, much of that time in sixth grade. Through the years Palmer has taught fourth through eighth grades, instructed everything from science to language arts.

She is one of only two teachers remaining from the staff that helped open the middle school in 1976. For the past two years she has led the PEAK program for gifted and talented students and served as the at-risk coordinator for students who need extra help.

“She does an awesome job with both ends of the scale, challenging the ones who need extra and motivating the ones who need motivating,” said BMS Principal Pat Henry.

The $10,000 award is in its second year in Basalt, sponsored by Aspen-based broker and businessman Bob Ritchie, who developed the Riverside Plaza area near downtown Basalt.

Inspirational teachers can be nominated by any Basalt student, and the selection is made by a group of students from across the three schools.

After teaching in the district since 1975, Palmer is headed toward retirement in May. She said she has not decided officially, but the financial award likely will be used to help pay for her youngest son’s education at Mesa State.

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