Apple Award Winners 2022

Apple Award Winners 2022
Posted on 04/07/2022
Apple Award Winners 2022

The Foundation for Douglas County Schools annually honors exceptional Douglas County School District educators and staff who are inspiring a love of learning in their students and trailblazing extraordinary innovation in our schools. Thousands of nominations are submitted every year. Just five receive an Apple Award. To read more and see all of the nominees, please visit the Foundation's website. 

Classified Employee of the Year

Sven Gaskins
Educational Assistant IV - Severe Needs, Pine Grove Elementary
Watch Sven's video >>

"The uniqueness of each individual should be cherished and celebrated, and being able to harness this approach, has led me to being able to help the unique population of students that I work with."

Sven Gaskins, an Educational Assistant at Pine Grove Elementary, is well known around the school as an adult who makes students feel seen. 

Gaskins says, "As I walk around the school, it doesn't matter if I personally know the students or now. I will always make a point to stop my day right there to say hello. Putting a smile on a student's face is priceless, and if want our kids to learn in the most effective manner, I think that making kids feel at home is first and foremost important."

Gaskins is a regular fixture of Pine Grove Elementary and is always willing to jump in to help. Principal Kelly Coonts says, "While his job title is Educational Assistant IV, you will find Sven at crossing guard, in the lunchroom and playground, and supporting students throughout the school. On any given day, you will find Mr. Sven working one-on-one with a student with targeted instruction, supporting students with emotional regulation, teaching a Panther Time group that focuses on math enrichment and critical thinking, or pushing into classrooms to support students."

Outside of the classroom, Sven is an Assistant Coach for many of his children's sports and takes on unique learning and teaching opportunities in cooking and woodworking.

Department Employee of the Year

Erin Fullmer
Senior Account Manager, Accounting
Watch Erin's video >>

"As a Senior Project Accountant I get to combine my love of numbers with my love of teaching. Education is ongoing and, as long as you are learning, you are growing. My heart is filled with joy when I have a bookkeeper say, 'I get this'."

Fullmer provides ongoing support to over 100 bookkeepers across DCSD. She is known as a caring and approachable person with a passion for supporting schools and departments, someone willing to help and see others succeed. Additionally, Fullmer has improved the operating efficiency of schools and departments, including the implementation of automated Free & Reduced fee waiving. This crucial program has greatly reduced parental stress by eliminating possible fees.

"What always impresses me about Erin, in addition to her expertise, is her kindness and availability. She makes me feel like every question is important, and she easily explains and teaches. Erin makes a difference in my job, and all district Bookkeepers, especially for those who work in alternative schools," says Giuliana Battaglioli, Administrative Assistant at Eagle Academy.

Fullmer uses her previous experience as an Early Childhood educator in the preschool Sunday school at her church.

Elementary Educator of the Year

Erin Triplett
First Grade Teacher, Ben Franklin Academy
Watch Erin's video >>

"I am one of the lucky few people out there that has always known what they wanted to be. I wanted to teach. I wanted to be around kids. I wanted a job where I could laugh and create moments of magic and wonder. I wanted a job that would show kids the wonders of school."

Above and beyond is the best way to describe Erin Triplett, a first-grade teacher at Ben Franklin Academy (BFA). Triplett uses her boundless creativity to improve the learning experience of every child in her classroom. Just like her students, she loves games, and her classroom is filled with opportunities to play, move, build, design, and create. Triplett also stays up-to-date on current educational philosophies. Two years ago, Triplett completed her full Orton Gillingham certification, which is a philosophy that follows the science of reading. She has used her new knowledge to create teaching tools for herself and her colleagues.

"These creations save the teachers' planning time, organization of material time, and create an environment that is interactive and multi-sensory, not only for my students ,but also for students in a variety of classrooms across the school," she says.

"At the start of the school year, our middle son was struggling with reading and testing low on his assessments," says Meagan M., a parent at Ben Franklin Academy. "His AR levels were so low. We were struggling to find books for him to read and test on. Mrs. Triplett created lower-level reading books AND AR quizzes for the kids who needed it."

Triplett has also served on the curriculum committee, the math committee, the COVID tutoring committee, and the STEM committee. For a healthy work-life balance, Tripett spends time hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, and snowshoeing -- using the time to reflect and refresh in order to continue her engaging work with students.

Secondary Educator of the Year

Michael Sullivan
Counselor, Rock Canyon High School
Watch Michael's video >>

"After almost 20 years of working as a school counselor in the Douglas County School District, I am still passionate about what I do. I love coming to work, and I feel that what I do for students is vital."

Sullivan developed a curriculum for a real class for credit and a grade for students slipping through the cracks, creating a structure to help them through their educational journey. The class is called the Phoenix Class.

He says, "The myth of the Phoenix is of a bird that rises from the ashes of its past to become even more powerful. The perfect metaphor for what I wanted these students to realize."

All students have one thing in common: they felt like they had screwed up their future because of perceived past mistakes. The job of the class curriculum was to require their brains and their hearts to see the beautiful potential that exists in all of them. 

Sullivan, as department chair, was deeply involved in the hiring process of seven new counselors at RCHS, made possible by funding from the 2018 Mill Levy Override. He conscientiously built a team with a shared vision and connection. Sullivan continues to elevate the practice of counseling by teaching the roles and responsibilities of counselors as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver Masters of School Counseling program.

Outside of Rock Canyon High School, Sullivan and his wife have been service program directors for 20 years, mentoring and guiding engaged couples to bring healthy communication, values and interactions to their marriage. Sullivan believes that positively impacting the couples they work with will trickle down and therefore benefit the youth of the DCSD community.  

District Administrator of the Year

Chris Zimmerman
Principal, Cimarron Middle School
Watch Chris' video >>

"It's really the people that make the difference. If we work together, we can do anything."

The last couple of years have been challenging for all educators. Principal Zimmerman and his team at Cimarron Middle School quickly realized that students needed more social and emotional support than ever. Working intentionally, the team has built a welcoming and inclusive culture, with Zimmerman at the helm. Their work has integrated the school's mission and values with various initiatives, including Sources of Strength. It has created a place where students feel safe to learn and grow as individuals. 

Zimmerman is also an active supporter of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), where staff members feel empowered to collaborate and work together effectively. As a result, the core values of Cimarron Middle School make it into every classroom and provide a strong presence to support students. 

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In compliance with Titles VI & VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and Colorado law, the Douglas County School District RE-1 does not unlawfully discriminate against otherwise qualified students, employees, applicants for employment, or members of the public on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Discrimination against employees and applicants for employment based on age, genetic information, and conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth is also prohibited in accordance with state and/or federal law. Complaint procedures have been established for students, parents, employees, and members of the public. The School District's Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator to address complaints alleging sexual harassment under Title IX is Aaron Henderson, 620 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock, Colorado, [email protected], 720-433-1083.

Outside Agencies

Complaints regarding violations of Title VI, (race, national origin), Title IX (sex, gender), Section 504/ADA (handicap or disability), may be filed directly with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite 310, Denver, CO 80204. Complaints regarding violations of Title VII (employment) and the ADEA (prohibiting age discrimination in employment) may be filed directly with the Federal Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 510, Denver, CO 80202, or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1050, Denver, CO 80202.


Special Education records which have been collected by Douglas County School District related to the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of special education in the district, must be maintained under state and federal laws for the period of five (5) years after special education services have ended for the student. Special education services end when the student is no longer eligible for services, graduates, or completes his/her educational program at age 21, or moves from the district. This notification is to inform parents/guardians and former students of Douglas County School District's intent to destroy the special education records of students who exited special education services as of June 30, 2016. These records will be destroyed in accordance with state law unless the parent/guardian or eligible (adult) student notifies the school district otherwise. After five years, the records are no longer useful to the district, but may be useful to the parent/guardian or former student in applying for social security benefits, rehabilitation services, college entrance, etc. The parent/guardian or eligible (adult) student may request a copy of the records by requesting the records at this link ( Douglas County School District Transcripts and Records Requests ).