Hayden High School welding and automotive instructor Kevin Kleckler is congratulated by his wife, Carrie, after he was named the Educator of the Year during a dinner Saturday at The Steamboat Grand.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Hayden High School welding and automotive instructor Kevin Kleckler is congratulated by his wife, Carrie, after he was named the Educator of the Year during a dinner Saturday at The Steamboat Grand.

Hayden's Kleckler named Educator of the Year by Peabody Energy

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During the past year, 12 educators in Northwest Colorado were recognized as part of Peabody Energy's Leaders in Education program.

Peabody Energy's 2012-13 Leaders in Education

Joy Clark, lead custodian, Soda Creek Elementary School

Kathy Deepe, second- and third-grade teacher, Hayden Valley Elementary School

Paula Duzik, counselor, Moffat County High School

Sherry Holland, library media specialist, Strawberry Park Elementary School

Lori Hornstein, first-grade teacher, Hayden Valley Elementary School

Kristin Ingalls, math teacher, Moffat County High School

Kevin Kleckler, welding and automotive teacher, Hayden High School

Katie Malone, fourth-grade teacher, Strawberry Park Elementary School

Nancy Porter, kindergarten teacher, Strawberry Park Elementary School

Grady Turner, kindergarten teacher, Soda Creek Elementary School

Brynna Vogt, seventh-grade science teacher, Craig Middle School

Laura Voorhees, kindergarten teacher, Hayden Valley Elementary School

— A Hayden teacher who raised $1.6 million so he could better teach his students was named Educator of the Year on Saturday night by Peabody Energy.

Vocational education teacher Kevin Kleckler told the dinner attendees at The Steamboat Grand that he was humbled and honored by the recognition for doing something in which he truly believes.

Kleckler has devoted his career to teaching the trades and said he "focused on celebrating men and women who work hard, sweat, carry a lunch box to work every day."

"That's how this great country was built," Kleckler said.

The money he raised was for the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center, which opened in November 2008 and offers classes to Hayden youths and adults. Students leave the school with college credits and certifications that allow them to launch careers out of high school.

Kleckler was one of 12 Moffat and Routt County teachers in the running for the honor and was awarded $5,000. All the teachers had been recognized individually during the past year as part of Peabody Energy's Leaders in Education program. Peabody is the world's largest private sector coal company and owns and operates the Twentymile Mine southwest of Steamboat Springs. The mine employes about 500 people directly, and many of them work the blue collar jobs that require the welding and other technical skills that Kleckler teaches.

During his remarks, Kleckler thanked the other three Hayden teachers who attended the dinner as fellow Leaders in Education.

There were also five teachers from the Steamboat Springs School District and three teachers from Moffat County.

"Every single one of you are leaders in this field," said Kemal Williamson, president of Americas for Peabody. "Simply put, you have positively transformed the lives of many, many young people.

Williamson said the goal of Peabody's Leaders in Education program is to help educate future generations by recognizing those who work in the schools.

Twentymile Mine General Manager Pat Sollars explained how Peabody's company leaders oftentimes meet to discus who is going to lead the company in the future.

"Our teachers and educators are putting together a succession plan for our country and our world," Sollars said. "I want to thank our teachers and educators for creating our future. You do a wonderful job."

Retired state Sen. Jack Taylor also spoke. He expressed his appreciation for the Leader's in Education program and spoke about the importance of the coal industry for the region.

"For me, it's easy to support things you believe in, and I believe in coal," Taylor said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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