Crystal Apples to 2 Westside teachers: Leslie Barthlow

       Coronado High School band director Alan Combs and Holmes P.E. teacher Leslie Barthlow are two of District 11's six Crystal Apple Teacher Award winners this year.
       Both are long-time teachers, with Combs having served 8 of his 26 years at Coronado and Barthlow 9 of her 15 years at Holmes.
       Sponsored by the El Paso Council PTA, the awards “honor teaching excellence and recognize outstanding examples for young people who want to be teachers.” Other recipients this year were from Doherty High and Rogers, Penrose and Fremont elementaries.
       The presentation will be at a ceremony May 5.
       The Crystal Apple Awards nomination process includes preparation of a book including letters from colleagues, parents, students and former students. Judges are from outside the school district.

Leslie Barthlow

Posing in favorite spots in their schools are the Westside's two Crystal Apple award-winning teachers this year. ABOVE: Holmes Middle School P.E. teacher Leslie Barthlow is shown in the fitness room she helped equip, demonstrating how she "balances" between different sports.
Westside Pioneer photo


       Barthlow is a District 11 product (Wilson, Irving and Mitchell schools) who went to college in Kansas (Kansas State, where she played forward on the school's league championship soccer team), then came back home. All along, she's known what she wanted to do: “I've always wanted to be a P.E. teacher,” she said, having been especially influenced by an instructor she had at Irving. But Barthlow also likes classroom work, and so her first six years in District 11 (at Russell Middle School) she taught math and science. Meanwhile, she was adding to her opportunities by earning a P.E. degree from the University of Northern Colorado and a principal's license from Denver University.
       When Barthlow switched to Holmes nine years ago, it was to fill a P.E. opening, and she's been there ever since. “I really like the Westside and Holmes is a good place to work,” she said. “It has good kids, good parents and a supportive principals [Rob Utter, preceded by Brenda LeBrasse].”
       Although she coaches Holmes' girls' volleyball and basketball teams, a key Barthlow goal is to help all students understand things they can do to stay fit throughout their lives. This effort has included expanding the equipment offerings in the Holmes fitness room, attracting grants, donations and some school money towards that end. “As you get older, it's harder to find 22 friends to play soccer,” she said. “So in the fitness room we expose them to things they can do when they're out of school.”
       For example, all eighth graders are given the chance to monitor their heart rates. “So, even if some kids are not in as good a shape as others, they can see that they're working just as hard,” she said.
       Like Combs, Barthlow was humbled by her Crystal Apple selection and all the letters that backed her. “I'm surprised. It's really an honor,” she said.

Westside Pioneer article