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Shawn Carstensen Hays

Shawn Carstensen Hays (CO '02)


Orchard Avenue Elementary School
Grand Junction, CO

Subject(s) taught: General Elementary
Grade(s): K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

At the time of the Award, Shawn Carstensen Hays was:

Pomona Elementary School
Grand Junction, CO

Subject(s) taught: General Elementary
Grade(s): 2

Biographical Information

Shawn Carstensen Hays sets high expectations and motivates her second-grade students to excel at Pomona Elementary School in Grand Junction. Her "Book Talks" allow students to work together as they share information about topical reading materials. As a result, even remedial readers make significant gains while helping their classmates learn. Mrs. Hays also conducts a photography project in which students use a disposable camera to take photos for a book which they write and present to their families. In addition to standard report card grading, she implemented a continuum evaluation process that includes regular communication with parents to demonstrate their children's specific needs in reading, writing and mathematics. A Nationally Board Certified teacher, Mrs. Hays also created a conflict management program that helps students learn to resolve their own problems both in and out of the classroom.

Personal Message

There are four attributes for me to being an outstanding educator that have guided my educational journey and still resonate with me after 27 years of teaching. One is having a learner's stance, knowing that teaching is a journey and I am constantly learning and growing my content knowledge and instructional practices so I can model for students what it means to be a life-long learner. Another attribute is to be able to build relationships with students and families. With relationship building, it allows me to "see" students and families so we can work as a team. This also allows me to have high expectations of students and of myself. My goal is not to put hurdles in front of my students or accept those hurdles, instead I need to coach students over those hurdles and challenge hurdles that cause injustices for students. My third attribute is to create an environment that encourages independence and have the students involved in their learning where they are active participants. I need to be responsive, build on their strengths, and teach the whole student. I think of the big picture because I am creating future citizens who need to be critical thinkers and compassionate human beings. I teach and model more than just the academic standards. My last attribute is being an active listener. I need to watch, listen, think, ask questions, before speaking. I know that working with other educators to imperative to growing students. I believe teaching is a profession, it is complex, it is hard, and it is the most important work I can do.

Additional Information


1989 University of Iowa, B.A.

MA, Education, Literacy, December 2004 from Adams State University

Educational Leadership Endorsement Program, May 2012 from Colorado Mesa University


Coach for the Teacher Leadership Institute for the state of Colorado

Coach for Girls on the Run for Mesa County


Outstanding Educator for the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Spring 2002

National Board Certified Teacher (2001, 2011, 2021)

Distinguished Student Award (Recognized for outstanding leadership, scholarship and commitment to education), CMU Spring 2012

Added Endorsement in Reading Teacher - Elementary and Linguistically Diverse - ESL - Elementary from MA, Adams State University (2004)