A worthy contribution | AspenTimes.com

A worthy contribution

Paul E. Anna

In the Woody Creek Tavern, a place chock full of unexpected wisdom, there is a bumper sticker that reads: “It will be a great day when schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber.”Amen.We live in a world that underappreciates, undervalues and, most of all, underpays educators. Somehow society has been duped into believing that those who trade derivatives or sit at the head of the table when a board of directors gathers deserve outlandish rewards and financial compensation.Teachers, on the other hand, are universally given short shrift. And yet, they show up, day in and day out, imparting education and improving lives for the sheer love of doing so.Fortunately, here in the Aspen we have someone who not only recognizes the valuable contribution of teachers but also has the means to show his appreciation. For the past six years local businessman and Aspen innovator Dick Butera has made cash grants to teachers in recognition of their hard work and superior performance.This week 15 teachers and/or support-staff members were honored with the 2006 Distinguished Teacher Award and the $10,000 check that goes with it. The educators, four from Aspen Elementary School, five each from Aspen Middle School and Aspen High School, and one from the Aspen Community School, were selected by a panel consisting of other teachers, parents and administrators who are charged each year with finding the most deserving in a group where all deserve credit.Butera launched the Distinguished Teacher awards in 2000 after watching a group of graduating high school students receive nearly a quarter of a million dollars in scholarship money from the local community. While the kids definitely need those funds, it struck him that the teachers were not being acknowledged for their role.To do something about it, he dug into his own pockets and funded 10 awards in that first year. This year $150,000 was doled out to the winners. And don’t think that both the recognition and the cash don’t help out a teacher.The Distinguished Teacher Awards are just one example of an individual stepping up to the plate to do something for his or her community that can make a difference. While Butera may have the resources to do something bold, we all have the ability to recognize our educators by simply saying “thanks.”If you know a teacher, tip your hat. If you don’t, write a letter to the school or the paper telling them that you appreciate their efforts. There may not be a more important role in society than that undertaken by the people who choose to teach our children. Kudos to the winners and kudos to Dick Butera for recognizing their contributions.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


High Points: Lift tix — A bargain


High Points: Now I don’t want to be an apologist for the Aspen Skiing Company, but to me $199 to ski the crown jewel of American skiing during the height of what is traditionally the busiest time of year is a total bargain.

See more