Honor Roll Hall of Fame

Past recipients of BVGT’s Honored Advocate Award


2013 BVGT Honored Educators

Deb Darnell is TAG Advisor at Southern Hills Middle School. In the six years since Deb has been at Southern Hills, her principal said “our TAG program has gone from one which was somewhat stagnant to one which is now an intricate and active part of our school program.”

“I marvel at her willingness to learn, for her wonderful ideas that nudge me to think in different ways, and the fact that she has read more books on giftedness than anyone I know! She is a great role model for all teachers,” said Terry Bradley, past BVGT President and Fairview High School TAG Advisor. “Every year Deb grooms her middle schoolers with hands-on guidance and support, nurtures them with lunchtime affective discussion groups, and then gently hands them over to me for their journey to be continued in high school,” said Terry.

Deb sponsors and organizes many activities which reach Southern Hills students including Science Fair, Destination Imagination Teams, Math Olympiads, National History Day projects and weekly discussion groups.

Michelle Eckstein is the TAG advisor at High Peaks Elementary School where she is an integral part of the Schoolwide Enrichment and Differentiation Plan that reaches nearly 80 advanced-learners in a school population of 300. Michelle has initiated programs such as “Night of the Notables” and the “Enrichment Fair”, research projects students work on at school and at home to encourage deeper exploration and understanding of a topic.

Michelle has a way of connecting with her students. One parent commented, “She not only sees the importance of challenging young minds, but she cares equally about their social and emotional needs. Michelle encourages her students to take risks in her classroom by creating an environment that feels ‘safe.’ Michelle is very sensitive to the needs of the ‘whole’ child.” Michelle also works above and beyond to meet the needs of her kids.

Another parent said “Whether taking a walk before school with my child or using tools to help boss the worried mind, she works her magic every day.” Another parent added, “As parents, it’s been tremendously reassuring to sit down with a teacher that knows the same kid we see at home and can provide advice on how to best nurture her.”

Anne Hunter has been the BCSIS Tag Advisor since 2007. Anne works in small groups with advanced students and twice exceptional students. She also works with teachers to create enrichment programs for entire classrooms.

Anne came to teaching through a creative path.  She majored in Modern Dance Performance and Composition at Bennington College. She began her career as a dancer but an injury forced her to choose a different path.  She attended medical school and went on to become a successful OB/GYN surgeon.  In yet another career change, she decided that being a teacher would be the perfect opportunity to blend her natural curiosity with her love of learning, math and children.

Anne is very passionate about what she does and really wants her children to succeed.  Kids love working with Anne. One student said “She brings creativity into the learning. She is very enthusiastic about whatever she teaches. I used to not get very excited about going to school, but now I love to go because I get to work with Anne.” Another student said “Anne’s classes are great because you think she is going off topic, but she always comes back to the subject, while having somehow taught us a lesson through what seemed like a completely unrelated discussion. … Anne knows something about everything, and she is always sharing.”


The first BVGT Honored Educator Awards were given in August 2012.


2012 BVGT Honored Educators

Lynn Gibert is beginning her 25th year of teaching Latin. She has taught students from preschool through middle school at the former Rocky Mountain School for the Gifted, has taught Latin for the past 11 years at Fairview High School, and has just introduced a Classics Club at Southern Hills Middle School.  She says she “wants to whet students’ appetites for Latin before they get to high school.”  Lynn has won five grants from Impact on Education over the years, and she prepares her students for both state and national competitions.

Lynn Gibert differentiates instruction to meet the various levels of ability in her classroom. She makes sure that students of ALL abilities remain interested and challenged, even those who are advanced.  She recognizes that even gifted students need the opportunity to work hard and to continue to learn new things every day.

A former Fairview high school student said “Ms. Gilbert figures out what each individual student is interested in and is passionate about, and reaches out to them through that. She made me love not only the language, but everything about learning.”

Another student said, “It’s hard to sum up HOW she was a great teacher. Ms. Gibert was a fun constant through all of my four years there. She made a dry subject fun, difficult concepts easy to remember, and a dead language live.”

Julie Marquez is a leader, shepherd, mentor, listener, advocate, and teacher of gifted children.  She has been instrumental in the development and growth of gifted education at Lafayette Elementary School.  This has benefited the entire school community.  She offers school enrichment opportunities for all students, and this supports the diverse population.

If you were to peek in her classroom during the day you could expect to see students preparing a play based on a book they’ve read, hear a persuasive speech, or a historical figure giving a monologue, or see geometry playing out in balsa wood figures.  It’s the type of learning you would wish for all day at school.

Julie Marquez is an excellent educator who inspires students to be their best by setting high expectations and giving them the tools they need to reach those expectations. She continuously works to create a climate where it is okay to be different, and okay to be smart. Her extensive knowledge of gifted and talented education makes her a sought after resource for both parents and teachers.

One of her students said this, “Whenever you feel like you need help, Ms. Marquez is going to be there for you.  She always lets other teachers borrow her things.  She is strict, but not mean, and always does what she says she is going to do.  She never lies. She always likes to hear both sides of the story, and doesn’t punish for no reason.  She is very friendly with the students.  She loves us and the school.”

Jennie Belval is an involved member of our BVSD school board.  Previous to being a school board member, she was the TAG Education Advisor at Aspen Creek K-8 in Broomfield, where she set the bar high.  Her efforts there included allowing students to have opportunities for subject and grade-level acceleration, and assisting teachers in planning differentiated lessons to benefit all students.

Jennie is known for working diligently to learn as much as she can about gifted students.  She has attended many conferences to learn from experts in the gifted community, and has encouraged other teachers to JOIN her to learn about giftedness.  She has shared resources to help teachers incorporate strategies and techniques effective for use with all students, including gifted students.  She is a facilitator of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) groups for parents.  These groups allow parents to interact with each other, and develop parenting skills with which to nurture their gifted children.  Jennie has led many SENG groups around our district over the years.

Two years ago, in her quest to do even more for all students in the district, Jennie ran for BVSD school board and was elected.  She continues her support and advocacy for the gifted and talented from her new position.  She has continued to work with students by volunteering as a Brain Bowl coach, by attending regional student competitions, and by chaperoning school field trips.

She is a tireless advocate for encouraging excellence and equity in our schools.  Jennie Belval has truly made a positive impact on many, including gifted students, their teachers, and school and district administrators.