Roaring Fork Schools cultural diversity director named bilingual Leader of the Year by state organization

Amy Fairbanks
Provided

Amy Fairbanks, director of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) for the Roaring Fork School District, was recognized recently with a top statewide honor.

Fairbanks was recently named Educational Leader of the Year by the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education for 2020.

The award recognizes someone who “has distinguished themselves as an outstanding leader and advocate for emerging bilingual students and families and as an advocate for bilingualism, biculturalism, and biliteracy,” according to a press release. 

“We are extremely fortunate to have Amy as part of our instructional team. Under Amy’s extraordinary leadership, (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education) programming and emerging bilingual students in Roaring Fork Schools have benefited greatly,” Rick Holt, Chief Academic Officer for the district, said.

“Amy has not only improved academic programming and outcomes, she has successfully navigated the difficult adaptive challenges of influencing the ways people act to provide equitable access for all students. I am thrilled that Amy is getting the recognition she deserves.”

Fairbanks has a master’s degree in bilingual education and almost 30 years of experience.

In her words, she has dedicated her career “to advocating for emerging bilingual students and to implementing the best programming possible.”

Fairbanks began her career in bilingual education in 1992 when she taught at a dual language school in Mexico. She joined the Roaring Fork Schools as the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education director in 2013.

Colorado Association for Bilingual Education Director Dr. Lucinda Soltero-González said in making the announcement, “The committee was very impressed by the leadership role that Ms. Fairbanks has played in establishing a high standard of programming and equitable services for all emerging bilingual students in the Roaring Fork School District.

“She is being recognized because of her tireless advocacy for students’ rights, boundless compassion, and her work empowering teachers to become leaders themselves.”

Those who work closely with Fairbanks noted the same strengths.

“Amy is a great thought leader … she is always thinking of and advocating for our culturally and linguistically diverse students,” said Glenwood Springs Elementary English Language Development (ELD) teacher Jennifer Hamilton. 

Kim Kappeli, another English language development teacher at Glenwood Springs Elementary School, said Fairbanks pursues equity in her advocacy for students and families. 

“This award is really about everyone here,” Fairbanks said in the release. “Every teacher has emerging bilingual students in their classrooms, so we are all a part of providing an equitable education for emerging bilingual students.

“The teachers are experts in their field. They advocate for their students and families … They keep their eye on equity. They are dedicated. They are committed. They inspire me to keep trying, to keep speaking up for what is right.”

Fairbanks is to be honored along with others who have contributed to bilingual education in Colorado during an awards gala at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 9, which will be live-streamed on Facebook.

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