May grad lands statewide honor for social studies teaching

Stephanie Gutierrez, who graduated last week from CSU with a degree in history, has received the Outstanding Student Teacher Award from the Colorado Council for the Social Studies.

“While student teaching, Ms. Gutierrez impressed me with her professional relationship with students, easy command of the classroom and creative lessons that incorporated critical thinking and substantive analysis of primary sources,” Rocky Mountain High School social studies teacher and CSU alum Kurt Knierem wrote in a recommendation letter for Gutierrez, whom he mentored during her practicum. “Stephanie Gutierrez represents the best of pre-service teachers. As her time with me comes to a close, my hope is that we will sometime be reunited as colleagues.”

Gutierrez, left, with CCSS President Anton Schulzki

The honor included a plaque, recognition at the CCSS state conference luncheon, complimentary registration for the luncheon and a year of membership with the council. She was recognized for her use of the C3 (College, Career and Civic Work) Framework, which emphasizes the use of primary sources in teaching.

Taught with CSU alum

To gain her teaching license through the School of Education, Gutierrez did her pre-service student teaching in Knierem’s Advanced Placement U.S. History class this spring. She has a social studies teaching job lined up at Poudre High School starting in the fall.

Gutierrez became interested in a teaching career while in high school, when she had a great teacher who was there for her during a difficult time.

“I really wanted to pay it forward,” she said. “Plus, I’m a huge history nerd. The best part of teaching is building relationships with the students, they’re incredible.”

Gutierrez fell in love with CSU during a campus visit in high school, but started her college career at Adams State University, primarily because she didn’t think she could make the swim team at CSU. But she transferred to CSU after a year in Alamosa.

“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” the Colorado Springs native said. “I’m really humbled by this award. I’ve gotten to where I am because of my great mentors at CSU and Rocky. I couldn’t have done it without their support.”

Other honors

Gutierrez was also one of only two CSU students chosen as a top teacher candidate by the Colorado Department of Education and added to the department’s “Aspiring Teacher Honor Roll.” The other was Robin Lichti, who just got her degree in Family and Consumer Sciences.

Knierem, who also graduated with a history degree from CSU, recently received an honor of his own: He was named to the Colorado Department of Education’s Colorado Academic Standards Review and Revision Committee for high school history.

The Department of History is in the College of Liberal Arts. The School of Education is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.