Basalt ‘teacher of the year’ Green proves history isn’t boring, earns $10,000 award

Scott Condon
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Basalt High School teacher Karen Green discovered last night that pushing her students as hard as she does wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Green, the head of the social studies department and a teacher of various courses on history and government, earned the award for Most Inspirational Teacher of the Year.

The award, along with $10,000, was given by Bob Ritchie and the businesses at his Riverside Plaza development in Basalt. It was presented last night at a Basalt Town Council meeting.

“No wonder they feel inspired, because I push them so hard,” Green said while dealing with the shock of winning the recognition. The assistant principal of her school asked her to attend the council meeting, but Green had no idea why.

“Students probably feel leaned upon but they’re probably better for it,” she added.

She was nominated by seniors Lydia Fabian and Rachel Owen.

“Neither of us would be where we are, in terms of career direction, scholastic achievement and ability, and growth as people, without the tremendous love and inspiration provided by Ms. Green,” Fabian wrote in an e-mail to The Aspen Times.

Fabian will pursue international relations in college. Owen will attend the Air Force Academy.

In a nomination essay the students collaborated on, they said that Green was more than a favorite teacher. She’s also a friend and mentor.

“When I first entered her classroom, I had interests, many capabilities, no passions. Karen Green helped me discover those passions,” Fabian wrote.

Green’s vibrant style of teaching helped students to imagine what Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton felt like before their duel.

“Ms. Green’s every lecture portrayed history so vividly that students were easily able to examine it at a deeper level,” the nomination paper said.

Green teaches U.S. history and Fundamentals of American Democracy, a required course. She also teaches an elective course where students define, research and propose public policy issues. Students can earn both high school and college credit through the University of Colorado political science department.

Green has taught at Basalt High School for 10 years. She’s been an educator for 21 years, working previously at the renowned Cherry Creek district in Denver and at Glenwood Springs.

She is married to Scott Smith. They have a son, Cole Green-Smith, who is in the sixth grade.

Green said her experience in Basalt’s small-town school is rewarding because she makes better connections with students and even stays in touch with some after graduation.

She noted that much of her passion for teaching comes from her parents, Carolyn and Warren Green, who were educators in South Dakota.

Green was selected from the nominees by a committee of students using a weighted voting system that gave older students more of a voice.

Ritchie said the teacher recognition program will become an annual award.

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