Catamount Institute, Queen Palmer Elementary School, Colorado Springs School District 11
2021 Outstanding Retiring Environmental Educator Recognition Recipient
Richelle retired from teaching in December of 2020 after teaching for 19 years in Colorado Springs. Richelle always has gone above and beyond with teaching especially when it comes to working with marginalized youth. She is known for bringing new learning opportunities and experiences to her students, like a field trip to Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site or being a part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife's SOLE program.
Richelle also taught Catamount Institute's Young Environmental Stewards (YES) After-School Club at her school for over 10 years. Through the YES Club, Richelle had the opportunity to take students on science adventures all around the Pikes Peak region like caving, fly fishing, hiking, bird watching and more. As part of the YES Club curriculum, groups complete community based service learning projects. Each semester Richelle encouraged and guided her students to develop a project for the school community. Not only did Richelle excel at the YES Club but took the lessons she used during the after-school club and integrated them into her 4th-grade classroom always ensuring students had hands-on real-life experiences. One student said, “Ms. Gittens prepared me for the real world in ways no other teacher could and I am forever grateful!”