At first Hilary Wimmer was disappointed when her class field trip to Nestle Purina, to give her students job-shadowing experience, was cancelled Thursday afternoon.
Instead she went to a school assembly, where her students, colleagues and district officials waited to surprise her with big news.
Wimmer, who lives in Broomfield and teaches at Mountain Range High School in Westminster, was named Colorado Teacher of the Year – a title that comes with experiences such as a trip to the White House, to NASA space camp this summer and the college national football championship. It also puts her in the running for National Teacher of the Year.
“It’s an absolute honor,” Wimmer said. “It comes with different emotions.”
There’s a piece of guilt, she said, since she knows so many amazing teachers – including one of her co-workers she considers her “lifeblood” and her husband who is “one of the most incredible” teachers she knows. Her next sense was one of pride.
“I thought ‘wow, I get to draw awareness to a career education and the business program at Mountain Range,” she said.
She leads the largest DECA program, formerly called Distributive Education Clubs of America, in Colorado and was recognized as the Colorado DECA Advisor of the Year in 2016. One of her goals is to have financial literacy be a required course for all Colorado high school students.
“It’s something that students need. It’s not fair they’re graduating and people expect them to learn money through error,” she said. “It’s the worst way. The first thing they do is take out student loans.”
Financial literacy and mental health education are the largest gaps in the education system, she said. As someone who lost a family member to suicide after years of mental health struggles,.Wimmer hopes to help open that conversation and notes that now, more than ever, students come to her saying they are anxious or depressed.
Wimmer began teaching business in 2004 and was part of the orignal staff at Mountain Range in 2006. She serves as the Career and Technical Education department chair and high school of business program coordinator.
“Money will never buy my students happiness, but financial literacy provides them with the knowledge and skills to provide a positive financial future for them,” Wimmer said. “I don’t want them to have to lie awake at night worried about how they are going to pay their next bill. In addition, women and low-income students are tremendously impacted by lack of financial education.”
She moved to Broomfield in 2000 after she married her husband, Kyle Wimmer. The couple has three children, all of whom attend Broomfield schools.
She graduated from University of Colorado Denver in 2000 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. She earned a masters degree in counseling from the University of Phoenix and a educational leadership EDS degree from Arkansas State University.
Wimmer teaches introduction to business, principles of management, and finance.