Roaring Fork Schools department director named ‘education leader of the year’ | News

The Colorado Association for Bilingual Education, or CABE, named the Roaring Fork School District’s Amy Fairbanks education leader of the year.

Fairbanks, the district’s director of culturally and linguistically diverse education department, was recognized as “someone who has distinguished themselves as an outstanding leader and advocate for emerging bilingual students and families as an advocate for bilingualism, biculturalism and biliteracy,” an RFSD press release said Wednesday.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Amy as part of our instructional team,” Chief Academic Officer Rick Holt said in a statement. “Under Amy’s extraordinary leadership, CLDE programming and emerging bilingual students in Roaring Fork Schools have benefited greatly. 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.”

CLDE’s role in the district centers around ensuring equity, according to the district website, “to collaborate and communicate with colleagues and families” by providing consistent instruction and programming that creates a foundation for students “to achieve academic excellence, become active members of our community and thrive in a changing world.”

Fairbanks boasts a master’s degree in bilingual education and nearly 30 years of professional experience. That experience started in 1992 in a dual-language classroom in Mexico. She came to the Roaring Fork Valley in her current role in 2013.

There was no shortage of praise for Fairbanks from her colleagues in Wednesday’s press release — or from CABE officials.

“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,” CABE Director Dr. Lucinda Soltero-González said. “She is being recognized because of her tireless advocacy for students’ rights, boundless compassion, and her work empowering teachers to become leaders themselves.”

Glenwood Springs Elementary English Language Development teacher Jennifer Hamilton echoed the sentiment.

“Amy is a great thought leader … she is always thinking of and advocating for our culturally and linguistically diverse students,” she said.

Fairbanks will be honored — along with others who have contributed significantly to the education of Colorado’s Emerging Bilingual Students — at the awards gala on Oct. 9 at 5:30 p.m., which will be livestreamed on Facebook.

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