TSC Employees of the Year lead busy lives

Tate and Sammy image

Even on paper, it’s hard to keep track of all Tate Kindschuh does.  Police officer, K-9 handler and college instructor with an action-packed home life, Kindschuh never stops.

Every year, in each of the 13 Colorado Community colleges, peers nominate and select deserving dedicated staff members to be honored as employees of the year.  Four were selected from Trinidad State College - one from the Alamosa Campus and three from the Trinidad Campus. 

Kindschuh, 35, is a Patrol Sergeant at the Alamosa Police Department and is their K-9 handler. The Police Department purchased Sammy in 2015 and Kindschuh was her handler.  On the first day of the job, when backup help was requested at a traffic stop, Kindschuh took Sammy and had the dog check a Camaro. She “indicated on it so we seized the vehicle and towed it.”  The police recovered 70 grams of heroin, some meth, and $5,000  in cash.  The car was sold through their asset forfeiture program.  “We paid for all her training in the first bust.  She was a good investment and proved her worth the very first day,” Kindschuh said with a smile. Sammy was retired in January after serving seven years and has been adopted by the Kindschuh family.   

Kindschuh, who was raised in Nebraska and got his training at the Pueblo Community College Law Enforcement Academy (2010), has been with the Alamosa Police Department since 2011 and has been teaching at the college since 2013.  This is his first year as the Director of the Law Enforcement Training Academy on the Alamosa Campus. “I love being able to help prepare our Cadets for their future in Law Enforcement,” he said.  “Being able to help our local agencies obtain qualified officers to protect our communities is a big part of why I accepted this position.”  It is his job to “ensure the cadets are taught and trained on the most up-to-date standards that the Colorado POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) board holds.”

Not only is Kindschuh a Patrol Sergeant and the K-9 handler; he is also the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Team Leader and the Field Training Officer for the Alamosa Police Department.  When the regular patrol needs assistance with high-risk warrants, barricaded suspects or hostage situations, the SWAT team, wearing their heavily armored suits, is deployed.  Kindshuh supervises the team’s training, and he directs their emergency responses. 

At home Kindschuh gets great support from his girlfriend Yestly and his five-year-old son, Jaxon, who helps to care for their menagerie as part of his chores.  A chihuahua named Taco, a cat, three chickens and a duck keep Jaxson busy, but his favorite, by far, is his buddy, Sammy. 

Laura Gowen, Leslie Hollingsworth and Cindy Clements were selected from the Trinidad Campus.

Laura Gowen portrait imageLaura Gowen has worked on the Trinidad Campus for 11 years and is currently the Administrative Assistant to Lynette Bates, the Vice President of Academic Affairs.  She is responsible for classroom scheduling, is a Perkins Assistant, and offers support for Career and Technical Education.

”The scheduling part is really an ongoing project in itself,” said Gowen.  “The day usually consists of lots of communication between me and the deans and division chairs.  They are my lifeline for keeping the schedule running smoothly,” said Gowen who enjoys the challenges each day brings.

Gowen addresses equipment needs with the Perkins Grant which is federally funded - the purpose being to provide up-to-date equipment to teach Career and Technical students the latest in technology.  “For instance, in automotive, a student nowadays must be able to use scanners and electronic devices for diagnostics with the newer computerized vehicles,” Gowen explained.

“As much as I dearly loved working with the elderly at the nursing home prior (to working at TS), the students are a breath of fresh air here at the college.  I love their energy and drive,” she said. “And I love my co-workers.”

God, children, grandchildren are her support group.  Outside of work Gowen enjoys experimenting with art materials, building simple furniture and gardening.  She has made a fireplace surround, some bowed psalteries (stringed musical instruments), tables and stools and more.  Her still-life paintings are impressive. “Whether it is building something or creating a piece of artwork, I feel that process offsets some of the stress day-to-day living produces.  It is my version of therapy,” she said.  

Leslie Hollingsworth imageTrinidad High School graduate, Leslie Hollingsworth, began working at Trinidad State in 1988 after working several years in a Denver area school district and then at a bank.  She has worked in the Financial Aid Office since 1990.  She is the Classified Staff Member selected for employee of the year and is familiar with every aspect of financial aid from collecting and tracking required paperwork, setting up student loans, awarding scholarships and reviewing financial aid appeals. 

“It’s a lot of detail work but I never run out of things to do, “Hollingsworth said. “The best part of my job is the satisfaction that comes from being able to help students pay their student bills and in knowing my job and how things work because I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

She is grateful for the many years she has worked at the college.  Had she not worked there, she never would have met her husband who worked for 30 years at Trinidad State in the maintenance department and is now retired.  He has “always had my back,” said Hollingsworth, “We are each other’s sounding board.”

She says her greatest enjoyment after work is “not working”!  She loves old movies from the 30’s and 40’s and enjoys her home, her yard and her pets.  With the loss of her dad a year ago, she feels blessed to still have her mom.  She appreciates family, her health and the people she loves.

Cindy Clements imageMathematics Instructor, Cynthia (Cindy) Clements, has been teaching at the college since 2006.  She has a master’s in theoretical mathematics which includes coursework in computer science and statistics.  She has written two activity books, one for Calculus and one for Statistics and was the mathematics editor for a Statistics book. She teaches all levels of math as well as computer science and engineering courses. “Math is my passion,” she said.

Beginning in 2013, Clements has been the affiliate director at Trinidad State for NASA’s space grant through the Colorado Space Grant Consortium which sponsors the robot challenge at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Clements has overseen the robotics program since 2009. Colorado college students will participate in the challenge to better their performances of the previous year.  The robots must be able to operate on their own without an operator.  Trinidad State students want their robot to flip over and then continue its run.  Recently Clements ordered another truck load of sand from the San Luis Valley to allow the students to practice on the fine sand from that area in preparation for their annual robotic challenge.  She is grateful to Cooley and Sons Excavating Inc. for supplying the sand.

TSC image“The best part of my job is interacting with students and watching them grow.  For the students in engineering, I enjoy watching them learn how to be part of a team or how to lead and then watching where they take that in the careers and their lives,” said Clements.

On Saturday, April 1, Clements’ students successfully launched two high altitude balloon experiments.  In this instance, scientific experiments meant to gather data are safely boxed and then attached, one at a time, to a long cord which is attached to a big balloon.  Twelve to fifteen experiments ascended to 107,000 feet, the balloon popped one or two hours later and landed near Colorado’s eastern border.  The students are now analyzing the data. In addition, two nursing students are testing wearable technology like watches that are taking vital signs.  Clements is the main advisor for these teams.

Outside of work she enjoys her cats, reading, walking, and jumping on the train!  “My main thing on my bucket list is to take Canada’s train from Prince Rupert (or Vancouver Island) to Prince Edward Island, with a little side trip to Churchill,” she said.