May 21

CAP Announces the 2023 Best of Colorado Afterschool Winners

Three afterschool educators have been named as Colorado Afterschool Partnership’s (CAP) Best of Colorado Afterschool.

The three winners were nominated by a peer or colleague during Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week and represent the Best of Colorado Afterschool categories of “Program Staff” and “Program Director/Supervisor.”

The Best of Colorado Afterschool award is given annually and recognizes individuals who make contributions that positively impact their programs, organizations, and ultimately the youth and families they serve as well as the broader afterschool field.

Mia Martinez, Heart and Hand Center – Best of Colorado Afterschool – Program Staff

Mia Martinez is from Dallas, Texas. She went to school at the University of Texas at Arlington and graduated with her bachelor’s in social work. Mia has been with Heart & Hand since December 2021. She started as a Program Leader for one of our elementary programs and has since then been promoted to Senior Program Leader.

“I have had the honor of working with Mia for the last year and a half at the Heart & Hand Center as her supervisor,” said Emilia Autin-Hefner, Elementary School Program Manager at Heart & Hand Center.  “Mia shows up with integrity and thoughtfulness in all aspects of her work and she recognizes the difference that afterschool has over the school day.”

Mia has shared that her favorite thing about working in afterschool is that she gets to be creative, have fun, and laugh with the students. She gets to be the adult that she wishes she had as a kid. As a passionate advocate for young people, Mia prioritizes letting our kiddos be themselves in a safe space. 

“She goes above and beyond to build relationships with our students and their families,” Autin-Hefner said. “Mia is a fierce advocate for our young people, as well as the team that she works with. She shows up authentically and kindly in all spaces with young people, which has contributed to her success in the role.”

Christine Cunningham, BGC of Larimer County – Best of Colorado Afterschool – Program Supervisor/Director

Christine Cunningham is described as a blow-up costume and bib-overall-wearing, Iowan mom of 4, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Her favorite cow is the butter cow, which is proudly displayed yearly at the Iowa State Fair.

“Christine is a one-of-kind person and a champion for our members and families at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County,” said Carolyn Plein, a Boys and Girls Club intern who nominated Christine for the award. “She has been a trailblazer in the field of behavioral health. She provides invaluable guidance and opportunities for individuals.”

She has worked in the field of social work since 1996. Christine has worked in Youth Development for Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County (BGCLC) since 2020. She established the Behavioral Health Team at BGCLC, which has now grown to include three other social workers and interns.

“Christine has been an invaluable asset to the team and the kids at BGCLC,” said Sarah McKeen, who serves as Christine’s supervisor at BGCLC. “We can all better serve youth in Larimer County because of her.”

Daniel Acosta – The Children’s Kiva Montessori School – Best of Colorado Afterschool – Program Staff

Daniel Acosta hails from Medellin, Colombia and serves as the Middle School Language Arts teacher at The Children’s Kiva Montessori Charter School in Cortez, Colorado. He has a B.A. in Education Specializing in Humanities, Spanish and English, as well as a Postgraduate Degree in English Teaching. He has taught English, Spanish, and Literature for over nine years for Montessori service programs.

“I nominated Daniel for this award because of his outstanding dedication to our afterschool literacy program,” said Lurleen McCormick, Head of School at The Children’s Kiva Montessori Charter School. “He saw a need among our students and developed a fun and unique world language class.

Daniel uses active methodologies to keep students motivated and encourages students to do individual work, pair work, cooperative work, and project work to foster intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving.

“He has implemented creative strategies to make his lessons engaging and fun and students are often disappointed when it is time for class to end.” McCormick said. “They truly enjoy learning under his supervision and direction. Because of his out-of-the-box thinking, collaborative techniques, and success with his students, Daniel is very deserving of this award.”

Best of Colorado Afterschool – Nominees

This year CAP received 37 nominations from across the state. The nominees are listed below.

Adrienne WebbMission Viejo Elementary School
Alex HerreraRiverside Educational Center
Annie MethenySummit54
Asia WidenThe Pinon Project
Azucena NajeraCougar Run Elementary BASE
Brian HartThunder Vista BASE
Chris SauthoffDenver Fencing Foundation
Claudette BaileyWalnut Hills Elementary School
Danny BrownBlack Forest Hills
Elisa HenryYMCA of the Pikes Peak Region
Gabi GonzalezDakota Valley Coyote Kids Club 3950 s kirk way aurora co 80013
Heidi CarreonAntelope Ridge Elementary
Hudson SchottMeridian BASE Program 14256 McKay Park Circle
Julie CottoroneSandburg Elementary School
Kassidi BoyerMeridian BASE
Kassidi BoyerMeridian Elementary School
Kayleen TaylorThe Knights’ Success Lab
Kourtnie RobertsHSD2
Kyle-Leigh BerrySummit54
Lance MalleckPEAK
Melissa ShermanCotton Creek BASE
Mental Health TeamBoys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver
Molly BrooksMeridian BASE
Ms. EmilyThornton Peak after school program
Olivia PepinThe Quarter Project of Northern Colorado
Patsy PesaDDES Crew Club
Rachel KerstiensGirls on the Run Rockies
Rebecca CallahanAdams 12 BASE Programs
Selina CruzELCS DPS
Stephanie HansenAdams 12 Five Star Schools
Tessa FrederickSTRIVE Prep Schools