As the 2019/2020 school year gets under way, the Primero School District is pleased to announce the addition of two new faculty members: English teacher Patricia Johnson, and Music teacher Jean Di Lisio.

Patricia Johnson

Patricia Johnson completed her BA in English Literature at California State University in San Bernardino, California, in 2004. She began teaching that following fall. “My first assignment was at Claremont High School, where many of my students’ parents were professionals. It was a Blue Ribbon School, so there were resources and a culture of excellence,” she says. “The following year my family moved to Oklahoma. While there, I taught in three schools: East Central High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Cushing High School in Cushing, Oklahoma; and Guthrie High School in Guthrie. I moved away from Oklahoma during the summer of 2017, coming back to Walsenburg, Colorado, which is my hometown.”

Johnson has taught a wide variety of English Language Arts courses, including high school English, American literature, study skills, composition, creative writing, and AP literature. “I have also served as an Academic Team coach and Senior sponsor,” says Johnson. “The last two years I have taught middle school in Walsenburg at Peakview School. I am very excited to be at Primero Jr/Sr High School.”

Johnson is looking forward to helping her students move forward with the academic and social skills needed for success after graduation. “My goal for my students this year is for them to acquire the study skills, reading and writing skills, and listening and speaking skills to help them be successful in their academic and social lives. The goal for myself is to make sure each day has a high level of intensity and thought towards student growth and achievement,” Johnson says.

“So far, I love the atmosphere and culture at Primero Schools,” says Johnson. “The feeling is like a family where everyone is expected to be respectful, kind, and thoughtful, while also being warm, loving, and strict.”

“I am excited about the 21st Century Grant for clubs and other extension activities for students and the community,” Johnson adds. “And It is beautiful here. I love my drive to work each morning. I am excited to be here.”

Mary Jean Di Lisio Wharton

For teacher Jean Di Lisio, her musical roots run deep. “Yearning for a well-rounded education, my mother, Edna Ruth Swanson, ignited my interest in music and dance through scouting and church choirs. Grandpa Joe Di Lisio Sr. (clarinet), and my dad, Joe Jr. (trumpet and tuba), played with the Raton, New Mexico City Band. As a result of these influences, I enjoyed a 25-year career as Folk Dance Artist for Norman, Oklahoma’s Artist in Residence Program and Music Educator for Pre- K through Grade 12 schools in Raton, Pueblo City Schools, Hoehne School District, and the International School of Denver,” says Di Lisio.

Di Lisio obtained a B.A. in Behavioral Science from Loretto Heights College in Denver, as well as an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of New Mexico. “While at UNM, my intense study of modern dance with Jennifer Predock and Lauren McDougal, and operatic experience with Sean Daniel and Dr. Judith Bennaham fueled my musical training.”

Di Lisio has worked for many years to bring quality arts education to children from diverse backgrounds. “My experience as Arts Education Director for the State Arts Council of Oklahoma led to the placement of over 90 visual artists, musicians, dancers, drama, and writing artists who served 250 schools and presenting organizations all over Oklahoma. The impact of these artists in school and community workshops improved student achievement in all subject areas,” says Di Lisio.          

“It is an honor to join Primero School District’s professional staff and school board,” Di Lisio adds. “Recent building expansion and community support for academics and vocational programs continues to add kindling to Primero’s goal of success for all students. Enthusiastically, I look forward to sharing my unique Arts Education experiences.”

“Impressed by Primero’s guitar, ukulele, drum, and ensemble instrument collection, I hope to energize the previous musical staff’s entrepreneurship. Any interested parents or local community members, please let us know how you can support the daily private or group lessons in instruments, choral, or dance career choices. Thank you for the opportunity to serve Primero School District.”

Those interested in volunteering can contact Di Lisio via Primero at 719-868-2715, or via email at  

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