FROM elementary school educators to professional staff, the Adams State Educators Hall of Fame welcomed new members during an induction ceremony held June 6. Here’s a look at the Class of 2023 Hall of Fame inductees.
Eileen Johnson, class of 1980, and Parley Johnson III, class of 1981, have 27 years of service to education. Eileen Johnson taught and worked as a co-director of a Lutheran preschool in Aurora and Parley Johnson taught and coached in public middle schools. After receiving colloquy degrees from Concordia University in 1995, they became a team, working in Lutheran schools in different communities in Colorado and Nebraska. Parley Johnson taught grades 3-8 with four years as a principal and Eileen Johnson taught preschool through fourth grade.
Sally Schulz began teaching in 1970 for Jefferson County School District, retiring in 2003. She promoted study buddy program for peer tutoring; taught and directed Jefferson County kindergarten guidelines to new teachers and wrote the “Second Grade Language Arts Guide for Poetry,” for Jefferson County Schools. Schultz introduced the Make and Take program, for parents to use teaching materials at home. Honors include: Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities; Outstanding Teacher with Potential; and Principal’s Award for Continued Educational Excellence. Schultz also was recognized by the Mayor of Lakewood and a Colorado state senator for her role in education.
A native of Alamosa, Kathy Soden, class of 1989, dedicated 30 years in the Rocky Ford School District as a kindergarten teacher. She had an open-door policy for parents, and engaged her students by dressing up as characters and making up songs. School administrators sent prospective teachers to Soden to ensure a positive mentoring experience. She coached volleyball, basketball and track and field; was a second-grade music program assistant director for the Storytellers program; presented at conferences; served on the Balanced Writing Development Team/Santa Fe Trails BOCES; was a featured teacher in Chalkbeat.org 2020; and volunteered in the Rocky Ford community.
James Lujan, class of 1979 and 1987, served as an educator for 30 years. Awards and honors include: 1997 Educators Fellowship of America Scholarship to Bread Loaf School of English; five-time Arizona high school cross country coach of the year (1993-1999); 1999 finalist for the national high school coach of the year for cross country; 1997-1999 Special Olympics regional meet coordinator for the Navajo/Hope Special Olympics; 1991-2000 advisor/coach for the Earth Circle Foundation/Wings of American projects; 1993 USA boys national junior cross country champions; 1980-2008 coached more than 30 high school cross country team champions in track and cross country; coached five Arizona high school cross country team champions. In addition, as an elementary lab coordinator, Lujan oversaw a 30 percent increase in literacy scores after three years. He taught special needs and homebound students for eight years. Lujan volunteered for the mental health community in Pueblo, and is a Vietnam veteran.
A teacher and coach with the Aurora Public Schools, Jerry Schloffman, class of 1965 and 1970, was an educator for 30 years. Schloffman coached wrestling for 16 years and had a record of 100 wins and 49 losses; he also coached soccer. Schloffman taught in the business department and served as the chair and FBLA sponsor. He joined the counseling department before becoming the assistant principal.
Donald Smolyn, class of 1970, received a master’s degree from Kean University in 1976. He served as an educator for 50 years. He began his teaching and football coaching career in 1971 at Green Brook High School in New Jersey. In 1976, he started his 45-year career at Lenape Valley High School in New Jersey. Awards and honors include: 2003 national high school coach of the year; 2003 Rutgers University Dr. John Bateman Winners for Life Award; 2021 American Football Coaches Power of Influence Award; 2011 US Army All American Bowl Coach; 14-time football coach of the year; and 7 state football championships. He is a member of halls of fame including: NJ Football Coaches; Lenape Valley Athletic; Sussex County Coaches; Johnson High School; and NJSIAA. Smolyn presented at the American Football Coaches Annual Convention; the New Jersey Football Coaches Association; New Jersey Strength Coaches Association; Glazier Football Clinics; USA Football; Southeast Wing T Football Clinics; National Wing T Camps; Merrill Lynch; and the Department of Homeland Security.
A volunteer for the San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair since her days as a college student, Ann Stanford, class of 1986 and 1991, has 31 years of educational service. She began her teaching career with the Adams State Upward Bound program, and throughout her career as a science teacher worked for the Sanford School District, Good Shepherd Middle School, Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy, and Alamosa High School. After retiring she taught part-time for Trinidad State College GED program. Stanford took students to the regional and state science fair competitions. In 1991, she was Science Teacher of the Year and took two Creede High School students to the International Science Fair in Oklahoma. Other award and honors include: 1986 Who’s Who Among American Scholars; 1991 SLV Science Teacher of the Year; and 1995 participant in the Cold Spring Harbor DNA and Forensics Seminar at the University of Denver.
Sheri Tearpak, class of 1978 and 1981, dedicated 34 years to the education field in the Del Norte School District. She began her career teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts and was chosen to attend the Colorado Department of Education School Climate Improvement Conference, which led to teaching enrichment mini-courses. After receiving her graduate degree she started counseling, as well as teaching psychology, peer counseling, journalism, and initiating a gifted/talented program. Tearpak received special recognition from the ASVAB test administrator, who appreciated her students’ respect. She taught Title 1 language arts and math and was the accelerated reading coordinator and librarian.
After earning her bachelor’s from Western State University (then college) Tammy DeWolfe began her career at Lincoln School in Cañon City. She accepted a position as the principal, and spent the next 29 years in the building, as both an educator and administrator. In 2003, DeWolfe received her Master of Arts in educational leadership. Special honors include 1986 Who’s Who Among Junior Colleges; 1990 Western State College Cum Laude graduate; 1993 Colorado Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, Young Professional Award; 2017 National Distinguished Elementary Principal for Colorado finalist.
Throughout her 45 years in education, Emma Rae Martinez, Ph.D., served as an elementary teacher, gifted and talented teacher, school counselor, vice principal, principal and superintendent. The summation of her career was serving as superintendent at South Conejos School District in Antonito. Martinez received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Adams State in 1977 and 1978. She completed her ed specialist degree in 1991 from Point Loma Nazarene College, and earned a doctorate from Northern Arizona University in 1995. During her six years with the South Conejos School District, Martinez established practices to support curriculum and instruction, brought the district out of financial hardship; and grew a strong team.
Patricia Robbins, Ph.D., Adams State University emeritus professor of business, is also an alumna, class of 1993 and 1996. She received her Ph.D. from Kennedy Western University in 1999. She dedicated 26 years to the education profession. In the fall of 2008, Robbins achieved her dream of teaching at Adams State. She served as School of Business department chair for four and a half years and was the Phi Beta Lambda advisor for three years. Robbins chartered Sigma Beta Delta (international honor society for business and management students) and served as advisor for eight years. Honors and awards include 1994 National Business Education Association Award of Merit; 1997 Trinidad State Junior College faculty member of the year; 2011-2015 Colorado Business Educators Executive Board of Directors, including serving as president from 2014-2015; 213 Colorado Business Educators BEST Award; 2002 and 2006 Phi Theta Kappa Colorado Region Distinguished Chapter Advisor; and 2015 Mountain Plains Business Education Association Collegiate Teacher of the Year.
For decades, future educators at Adams State appreciated the support and guidance from Lois Widhalm. She accepted the position with the Department of Education in 1969 and retired after 30 years. Widhalm worked with students seeking a career as teachers and administrators in public education. She was responsible for the process of interviewing and placement of student teachers in public schools, both locally and throughout Colorado. She worked closely with deans, department heads and faculty to prepare for accreditation visits by the National Council of Academic Teacher Education and the Colorado Department of Education. After retiring in 1999, she was appointed as interim Alamosa County treasurer and public trustee, was elected to the position in 2006 and served for 13 years. She continued her relationship with Adams State by hosting business education interns in her office.