MONTE VISTA — Monte Vista School District Superintendent Scott Wiedeman announced during the April 14 school board meeting that Loree Harvey was the district’s Teacher of the Year.
Harvey is a science teacher at Monte Vista High School. She has lived in the San Luis Valley since 1980 and graduated from Sierra Grande High School.
Harvey was all smiles when she stood and accepted the award, shaking Wiedeman’s hand.
“I want to thank all the folks who participated in this nomination,” Harvey said. “I was nominated a long time ago, back in 2010 I think, and the nomination was special to me, but this, wow, this, you are my family. I can’t imagine working with any other district. We couldn’t do what we do here with our science program without the support of the administrators, the principal and everyone involved. It’s truly an honor to be working here. Thank you so much.”
Though Harvey was awarded Teacher of the Year, she did not start as a teacher, she started working for wildlife agencies, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and US Fishing Wildlife services, doing wildlife research for these agencies, for about 9 years.
Shortly after these positions, Harvey began working with kids a little bit.
“When I begin working with kids, I thought 'oh my gosh, I think I can teach.' So, I came into teaching really late in my career. I never thought about being a teacher, I was going to be a biologist, but when I started working with kids, it was really infectious, it was fun, I really enjoyed it,” Harvey said.
She began her student teaching at Monte Vista High School, and almost immediately began teaching at the middle school afterward, where she taught for 9 years.
When Doug Stewart, the high school biology teacher retired, she moved over and began teaching at the high school.
“Teaching at the high school was really what I wanted to do, as so much of what I had learned and wanted to teach was really a lot of great experiences, that were better for older kids," Harvey said. "I did love middle school too though. That place taught me how to be a teacher because those kids are tough, they are very fun and energetic though. So, I learned how to be a teacher in that environment, and I feel like I just carried it on at the high school."
Harvey said what she loves to do is mentor children and show them the biology field.
Harvey still works part-time with some of the federal agencies as a contract biologist. This allows her to take the students into the field to help them find projects that relate to some of the work that as a biologist she is doing in the field.
“This is really the most magical thing about my career, where I can be an educator, but also a mentor, and help students see this biology, and put students in real-world research scenarios," she said. "There are many students that I have had, that are getting jobs or internships with these federal agencies. We come from a rural area that has poverty issues, and drug issues. I think it's so important to show students that, this does not have to be their path, they can become really intelligent, professional people and have a job that is satisfying to them. I can't tell you how much it means to me to help a student not just settle for what is easy, but also show these kids that they are capable, and they can do so much more. Helping children means so much to me. So many students do not envision this for themselves, for whatever reasons. I like to show students that there is a bigger world out there. As an educator, I really like to show children that they are intelligent and they can be something great. It really makes it all worth it for me. After a while, to see these children believe in themselves, that's definitely why I do this. I believe in these kids, and I want to make them believe in themselves as well.”