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2019 Hall of Fame Winners
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2019 Colorado Charter Schools Hall of Fame Winners

View nominees and finalists 


Charter School Leader of the Year

The Charter School Leader of the Year Award recognizes an individual directly involved with a charter school (e.g., board member, administrator). Nominees should demonstrate significant influence in developing or maintaining a charter school, improving school accountability and performance, or driving other aspects of school excellence.


2019 Charter School Leader of the Year
Mary Faith Hall, Executive Director, Thomas MacLaren School - Founder


Mrs. Hall, co-founder and Head of School at Thomas MacLaren School, received her BA in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. While teaching Humanities, Latin and Drama at Trinity School, she received her MA in Liberal Studies from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM. Mrs. Hall is a mother of four, and amidst all the duties of Executive Director/Head of Upper School, enjoys teaching Humane Letters at Thomas MacLaren.

Charter School Educator of the Year

The Charter School Educator of the Year Award recognizes a charter school educator who is exceptionally dedicated to closing the achievement gap and preparing students for success now and into the future. Nominees should demonstrate a superior ability to teach and inspire in students a love of learning, and lead in collaboration with their colleagues and their charter school community to put student success in the forefront of their work.


2019 Charter School Educator of the Year 
Lauren Martinez, Special Education Teacher/Coordinator, Mountain Song Community School


Lauren Martinez grew up in Ohio and earned her B.S. in Special Education from Ashland University.  She has guided exceptional children for over 18 years as a special education teacher and behavior specialist in Ohio, Colorado, and New Mexico, working with students in Kindergarten through twelfth grades.  Her focus has been on inclusive education and creating a positive learning environment for students with mild to severe needs, teaching academics, communication, social skills, and behavior management.  She also educates colleagues and parents in inclusive approaches and accommodations.  She holds a Special Education Generalist (5-21) Professional Teacher license in Colorado.  Mrs. Martinez joined Mountain Song Community School, a public Waldorf charter school in Colorado Springs, when it opened in 2013.  Since then, she has served as SPED Lead Teacher and Coordinator for the school.  She has two beautiful children, Emma Rose and Matthew, who keep her busy at home.  Reading is her primary hobby, and she also enjoys listening to music and going for outdoor hikes.  

Most Valuable Charter Contributor

The Most Valuable Charter Contributor Award recognizes a charter school staff member, volunteer or parent who is making a significant impact in their school. Nominees should demonstrate exceptional leadership in and commitment to charter school operational excellence in areas such as finance, human resources, accounting, facilities food services, student activities, etc. The ideal nominee should also demonstrate a passion for charter school excellence and growth.


2019 Most Valuable Charter Contributor
Violeta Apodaca, Administrative Assistant, Pinnacle Charter School


My name is Violeta Apodaca. I am an Immigrant, the oldest of 3 children, a spouse and a mother to two beautiful daughters. I grew up speaking Spanish at home and English at school. I am a FIRST generation LATINA. I attended and graduated from Colorado State University with a double major in International Relations and Languages, Literature and Cultures, with a minor in History and a certificate in Caribbean Studies!

After graduating from Colorado State University, my intention was to come back and continue building my community. My passion is to mentor our youth and help them grow and gain their power back so that they can see a better future. I have the honor of working at Pinnacle Charter School, a K-12 in Thornton. Our school's population is primarily Latino students. Every day, I am reminded of the struggles our students face and every day, I make it my goal to remind them of the great people that they are. That they too can be the FIRST in their family to make big moves. Therefore, it is imperative for me to stay active in the Latino community and serve our youth and families. As Steve Jobs said, "They only way to do great work is to love what you do."

Charter School Authorizer Award

The Charter School Authorizer Leadership Award recognizes an active or retired charter school authorizer (school district or Colorado Charter School Institute) employee or administrator with a strong commitment to school choice. Nominees should demonstrate a commitment to high levels of student achievement and advocacy on behalf of charter schools.


2019 Charter School Authorizer
Terry Croy Lewis, Executive Director, Colorado Charter School Institute

My name is Terry Croy Lewis and I’m CSI’s Executive Director. Prior to my work here at CSI, I worked at the Colorado League of Charter Schools as the Vice President of School Quality and Support. Additionally, I was a founder of High Point Academy (HPA) which opened in 2006 and I served as the Executive Director/Principal at HPA for 8 years. Before my work at HPA, I helped to develop other charter schools in Colorado as an independent consultant and as a consultant with a national organization focused on the creation of new charter schools. In 1997, I helped found my first charter school, Platte River Academy. In total, I have 20 years of experience in the charter school sector working in urban, suburban and rural communities and I have served in a variety of capacities such as founder, school leader, governing board member, and consultant. Finally, I earned my doctoral degree from the University of Maryland and I’ve taught at several universities across the country.
Advocate of the Year

The Advocate of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated significant influence in the public policy arena. The nominee may be working in advocacy, policy, organizing or other areas which grows, supports or protects the charter school movement. Nominees may be celebrated for a specific action, program or project OR may be nominated for a long-time approach or dedication to the space in advocacy and policy.


2019 Charter School Leader of the Year

Jesse Hutt, School Founder, AHS Board Member, Pediatric Oncologist, Animas High School


Jesse Hutt is a pediatric oncologist and founding parent at Animas High School. Jesse has a B.A. in Biology from Brown University, an M.D. degree from the University of Florida, and completed residency training at the University of Utah and Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. She specializes in caring for children with cancer and blood related diseases at Southwest Oncology.
The vision to create Animas High School developed during her years working as a general pediatrician in Durango. At that time, she saw many teenagers who were apathetic or dissatisfied with the traditional school model. Along with other founders she drafted a charter to start a school that modeled High Tech High in San Diego– a school that used Project Based Learning to engage students to become passionate lifelong learners while preparing them for college and post-secondary success.  

In 2009 Animas High School opened with 75 freshman students.  Each successive year the school added a grade level and now serves 250 students.  The school has created a draw for students all over the Four Corners and has successfully met the challenging goal of 100% of graduating students gaining college acceptance.  Since its inception, Jesse remained involved, initially as founder, tour guide and evangelist, Parent Advisory Committee Chair, grant writer, fundraiser and now board member.  She is extremely proud of the school’s success as it enters its 10th year and launches a capital campaign for a permanent facility.
One of her greatest joys has been to watch both of her children attend Animas High School and engage in their education. While they are very different learners, they were both able to discover their passions and become strong advocates for their education. Elliott recently completed a B.S. in Engineering Physics at the University of Colorado, and Avra will be completing a degree in Computer Science at the University of Colorado.
Jesse believes that we all can reach the common goal of providing the best education possible for our children through school choice. Jesse can be seen just about anywhere with her Diabetic Alert Dog, Cody who also serves as a Therapy Dog for her patients.

Lifetime Achievement Award

In addition to the Colorado Charter Schools Hall of Fame, the Colorado League of Charter Schools will honor someone who has demonstrated dedication which grows, supports or protects the charter school movement.Nominees may be celebrated for a specific action, program or project OR may be nominated for a long-time approach or dedication to charter schools.


E.D. Hirsch

Founder and Chairman, Core Knowledge Foundation


E. D. Hirsch, Jr. is the founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation and professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia. He is the author of several acclaimed books on education in which he has persisted as a voice of reason making the case for equality of educational opportunity.

A highly regarded literary critic and professor of English earlier in his career, Dr. Hirsch recalls being “shocked into education reform” while doing research on written composition at a pair of colleges in Virginia. During these studies he observed that a student’s ability to comprehend a passage was determined in part by the relative readability of the text, but even more by the student’s background knowledge.

This research led Dr. Hirsch to develop his concept of cultural literacy—the idea that reading comprehension requires not just formal decoding skills but also wide-ranging background knowledge. In 1986 he founded the Core Knowledge Foundation. A year later he published Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know, which remained at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for more than six months. His subsequent books include The Schools We Need, The Knowledge Deficit, and The Making of Americans.

Lifetime Achievement in Advocacy

Hugh Fowler
Colorado State Senator 1968-1980

Hugh founded and led first charter school effort in Littleton, 1969. Elected to State Senate from Arapahoe County, 1968. Chairman, Education Committee, 1970-80. Authored first step toward school choice: Accountability Act of 1970.  Wrote first voucher bill (for Higher Education) in 1972; defeated. Authored various education bills including Handicapped Children’s Act, three Reading acts, BOCES act, many approaches to school finance reform including statewide teacher salary schedule.

Authored and led three efforts to pass a Constitutional Amendment creating universal choice and gold-standard vouchers (1980, 86, 92) which were defeated by teachers’ union.

Formed Classic Schools, Inc., to realize goal of new Charter School Act: “To create schools where motivated children and responsible parents work together with dedicated teachers for excellent education.”  Emphasis on Core Knowledge, reading skill, uniform clothing, classroom environment, efficient management, and parent cooperation and support through contract.

Proposed first charter school for Denver Public Schools (1994); defeated by union. Founded Cherry Creek Academy, 1995. Founded Twin Peaks, Longmont, 1996. Consulted with many other charter applicants and authorizers.



View the 2019 finalists