Emerald Elementary teacher wins early career teacher of the year award

Emily Trujillo, a kindergarten teacher at Broomfield’s Emerald Elementary, ended her first year with an award from Impact on Education as the early career teacher of the year.

“I have always wanted to work with kindergarten students,” she said. “It’s so fun.”

The Imogene Maxon award, new this year, is given to Boulder Valley educators in the first three years of their career and is supported by veteran teacher Jean Maxon. Trujillo was chosen from a group of eight finalists, and the award was presented at a virtual ceremony.


“She wants each and every child, no matter what is happening in their home or family, to have access to and succeed in an environment of high expectations,” Allison Billings, the CEO of Impact on Education, said in a written statement. “She has repeatedly surprised colleagues and visitors with her veteran teacher poise and expertise despite her being a first-year teacher.”

Trujillo attended Boulder Valley schools, graduating from Monarch High before earning her teaching license at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She was hired at Emerald as her first job after college.

She said her first year went so smoothly, thanks to support from her kindergarten teaching team, other colleagues at Emerald and her family, that she started taking classes in December to earn her master’s degree.

“My support system truly benefits my success,” she said.

She credited her Lafayette Elementary third-grade teacher, Terri Mulford, with sparking her interest in education.

“She was that pivotal role model in my life,” Trujillo said. “She made me fall in love with school.”

Mulford, who is now the president of the Boulder Valley Education Association, said Trujillo proved her skills in teaching young children while gaining experience in her elementary classroom when she was at CSU.”

“This year, I’ve had the honor of watching Emily work with her students, both in person and virtually, and her level of maturity and professionalism continues to amaze and impress me,” said Mulford, who has continued to mentor Trujillio. “We are fortunate to have someone of Emily’s quality employed in BVSD.”

Emerald Elementary kindergarten student Penelope Ramirez, 6, watches the live stream of her teacher, Emily Trujillo, receiving the Imogene Maxon award from Impact on Education on May 7. (Courtesy photo)

Alexcinia Ramirez, whose daughter is in Trujillo’s kindergarten class, described her as “a phenomenal teacher who is able to engage with each of her students on a personal level to inspire them.”

“My daughter absolutely loves the connection she has made with her, and our family is grateful to have her,” she said.

Along with the usual challenges of being a first year teacher, Trujillo also faced the challenge of teaching kindergartners remotely when in-person schools closed in mid-March. As a team, she said, the kindergarten teachers wanted to give parents both flexibility and the most relevant information as they navigated school from home.

They send out a week’s worth of work at a time so parents can work with their students when time allows. She sends sends her students small crafts by mail and schedules about 15 optional, small group calls a week for students. The small group calls are all about social connection, she said, with students invited to share things like a new dance move or favorite socks.

“We really just giggle most of the time,” she said. “It’s offering a little bit of joy and connection in what’s an awkward and difficult time for little minds.”

She said her overarching goal for all her students is that they “continually choose kindness.” She said the guiding quote she used in her classroom was: “When you can be anything you want, be kind.”

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