Palmer High School history and economics teacher Hillary Hienton keeps raising the bar.

Having earned degrees in history, curriculum and instruction, Hienton taught history and economics in Colorado Springs high schools for a while, then asked herself: Now what?

The answer came in the goal of receiving her national board certification as a public school teacher, something only 3 percent of teachers achieve.

“It was an interesting challenge,” Hienton said. “It was very difficult to obtain — it was all pretty robust.”

Then, searching for something new to focus on, Hienton began studying to become a certified financial planner, much like her father. She passed the securities exam in July and now she’s certified to trade. To start, she’s trading in mutual funds.

“I’m always looking for a new challenge,” said Hienton, 35.

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Now what?

“I’m trying to think about making more space in the financial planning arena,” she said. “I don’t want to quit teaching, but I’m investigating how these two will work together.”

She recently became department chairwoman at Palmer.

Stacy Poore, chief development officer at Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, nominated Hienton for the award.

“She’s a very smart woman making a big difference in our community. She influences the lives of young people every day. She teaches people about the world, about business,” Poore said. “I think she inspires young people to be part of our economy.”

One of the founders of the Women’s Mountain Biking Association, Hienton also volunteers as president of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute.

Hienton said she has always been called to volunteer. When she was in high school and college, she volunteered with Planned Parenthood and Urban Peak.

“I was (and still am) passionate about reproductive rights for women,” she said, adding that she’s also interested in combatting teen homelessness.

“She’s a really nice person. She’s smart, kind and witty,” Poore said.

— Marija B. Vader