Strawberry Park Elementary teacher retires after 31 years in district

Teresa Ristow
Longtime Steamboat Springs teacher Allyson Spear applauds one of the acts Friday afternoon during Strawberry Park Elementary School's talent show. Spear is retiring from teaching at the end of this school year after 31 years in the Steamboat Springs School District.
John F. Russell

If you go

What: Retirement party for teacher Allyson Spear

When: 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, June 8

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.

— For more than three decades, Allyson Spear has helped to shape the young minds of Steamboat Springs.

As a teacher in elementary grades first through fifth at various points in her career, Spear has connected with students of many ages and been recognized with numerous awards that prove she has a creative, effective teaching style.

Spear is to teach her final class later this week at Strawberry Park Elementary and then retire with 31 years of service in the Steamboat Springs School District.

“The light that she has ignited in each one of her students will continue to shine brightly long after she has closed her classroom door for the last time,” said Autum Sloop, who introduced Spear during a school board meeting last Monday, when she and three other district retirees were honored. “It is impossible to know how far the influence of a single teacher will reach, but my guess is that Allyson has done more good than she every thought possible.”

Sloop met Spear last year when her son, Jackson, was placed in Spear’s first grade class at Strawberry Park; Sloop also served as classroom parent during the school year.

A 1984 graduate of University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Spear taught every elementary grade — from first through fifth — and some combination classes, during two initial years at Strawberry Park, 26 years at Soda Creek Elementary and, most recently, three years back at Strawberry Park.

Spear said she never minded moving between grades or schools, adding that each group of children brought her a new sense of enjoyment.

“All of them have their ups and downs, but for the most part, they’ve all been wonderful year after year,” Spear said. “I enjoy the kids and the rewards you get from watching them learn and grow and become responsible individuals.”

Spear was recognized as the Steamboat Springs School District’s Teacher of the Year in 1991, and last year, she was selected as a Peabody Leaders in Education award winner.

A mini-internship program that placed fifth-graders in local businesses started by Spear also helped her win a school-to-career award from the Colorado Department of Education in 1997.

“She is a master teacher who is able to accomplish everything and more,” said Susie Gruben, another first grade teacher at Strawberry Park. “I have learned a lot from her.”

Gruben, who has known Spear for nine years, described her colleague as an engaging teacher who uses hands-on activities to relate to students.

“I appreciate all the expertise that she has shared with me, as well as her friendship,” Gruben said.

All are welcome to attend a retirement party and dinner for Spear, organized by Sloop, from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.

Other Steamboat Springs School District retirees honored during a recent board meeting were teacher and technology specialist Laura Anderson, with 31 years in the district, high school counselor Mike Campbell, 26 years, and nutrition services staff member Bonnie Hansen, 21 years.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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