Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight-A vision after the storm

Welcome back! This is Erin, the Digital Marketing Manager for Stapp Interstate Toyota Once again, we are turning the spotlight on an inspiring educator in St. Vrain Valley Schools. This month’s recipient took me to a different place than before. I hope you are as inspired as I was after my most recent visit.

Andrew Moore

September 2013, in this part of Colorado, is synonymous with the devastating floods that hit the St. Vrain Valley area. We all know at least one person affected by the flood. Despite such devastation, we have heard stories; stories of hope, of neighbors coming together to help each other, and communities becoming stronger. The Town of Lyons was one of the worst areas hit, but it’s here at Lyon’s Elementary School where we have found one of the most inspiring and encouraging stories.

In the midst of cleaning up after the flood and trying to find some normalcy in life, the staff at Lyons Elementary wanted to find a way to take advantage of the resources available to them and make a positive impact on their community. From this vision, The Lyons Elementary Outdoor Science and Leadership youth initiative came to life. The desire of the staff at Lyon’s Elementary School is to connect their students to the community around them. They want their students to know that they have the ability to make a positive change in their world. Through leadership classes and authentic science programs, they are well on their way.

Through this initiative, Lyons students are being connected with their local ecosystem while learning grade appropriate science standards. Students are able conduct real life research, such as collecting data on macroinvertebrate biodiversity, or monitoring river health. They are able to present their research and make recommendations to the Town of Lyons Ecology Board.

Lyons takes a feeder based approach to this program, meaning this program extends into Lyons Middle Senior, where high school students, trained in leadership skills and river quality protocols mentor and lead younger students throughout the school year.  However, our time was spent learning about the elementary school program. In addition to the ecology-based science project, each grade has a project in the production garden. Students have different opportunities throughout their time at the elementary school. From composting; to soil production; to gardening; each grade is actively involved in the school’s initiative. Last year alone the school’s garden produced over 300 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to the Lyons Emergency and Assistance Fund Food Bank.

As with any successful project, you don’t need to look far to find a strong leader. At Lyons Elementary, that would be principal Andrew Moore. Andrew is in his sixth year at Lyons Elementary; quick math tells you his first year as principal was the year of the flood. Andrew is quick to recognize his staff and the hard work and dedication they have put into rebuilding the school and getting the Outdoor Science and Leadership program up and running. He is proud of the growth and the vision his school has, but humbly reflects any praise back to his staff.

He credits the program’s success on his staff’s shared commitment to their mission of “Cooperative, Creative, Community Based” learning.  

As I went on a tour with Andrew, I was able to see why the staff was committed and accountable to each other. The principal helps set the tone of any school, and I was able to see firsthand how this was done. First, Andrew seems to know the name of every student in the school. He is always engaging with them, a quick hello as we passed a student in the hall, or asking what a student was working on. We made a stop in the art room and a student came up and asked Andrew’s opinion on a piece of artwork. The student’s eyes lit up with pride with the genuine praise Andrew so freely handed out. Andrew’s concern extends to his staff as well. A staff member returning to school after an extended absence was asked about their first day back.

Andrew talked about teachers setting an example for their students to show up each day with their “best self”. Andrew takes this to heart and leads by example, and this example has helped the school not only recover from the flood, but become a thriving part of the community that is creating leaders for tomorrow.

To all the staff at Lyons Elementary, we know the recovery hasn’t been easy, but you should take pride in all the hard work you have accomplished. We are excited to watch the Outdoor Science and Leadership initiative continue to grow throughout the feeder system.

Andrew, thank you for taking the time to meet with us and to give us a glimpse of how far the school has come. We wish you and your staff the best.

 

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Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight – A Teacher Without a Classroom

It’s that time of the month where we get to introduce everyone to our Stapp Inspires Spotlight Educator. If this is your first time stopping by, welcome! Each month we highlight a different educator in the St. Vrain Valley School district who is an inspiration to those around them. If you keeping coming back to see who we highlight next, thanks for joining us each month on this incredible journey. Often our journey takes us into the classroom where we meet teachers who make us wish we could be a part of their class. Other times we are taken on a different path and wind up in some unexpected places. This month we headed down a different path, and what a time we had!

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This month we are excited to introduce you to Ben Kalb. Ben is an Instructional Technologist who supports the Frederick Feeder system. This 2017 Apple Distinguished Educator Award winner (seriously you should check out his application video) started his career in Northern Illinois teaching AP Government and U.S. History. After surviving several years in the Illinois winter, the call back home to Colorado was to strong to ignore. He spent a year in the Poudre Valley School District before joining SVVD four years ago.

 

The first question, obviously, was what is an Instructional Technologist? Quite simply Ben teaches teachers. He teaches them how to use and incorporate technology in the classroom. For example, next week a middle school science teacher is having Ben come into their classroom to teach a lesson. During this time Ben will be instructing students how to use different Apple apps to demonstrate their knowledge of the different prehistoric eras they are studying. Ben also leads training once a month for teachers as well. For Ben every day is different. Another way to look at Ben is local tech support. Another part of Ben’s role is to produce a podcast called Vrain Waves. Ben and Co-Host Becky Peters (Program Manager at the Innovation Center) work to bring some of the most influential minds in education today and make that content available to teachers in the district and beyond. This helps create a common experience for everyone in the district.

 

I asked him about his journey to become an Instructional Technologist. This position is emerging in most districts. Ben started talking about his first year of teaching high school, which he admits was a bit of a failure. At Christmas break he wasn’t sure if he would have a job the next year. Before break his principal gave him a book to read that would radically change his outlook on teaching. The book is entitled The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. This helped Ben see the need to refocus his teaching methods, to look at his content through a 21st century lens. This set him on a path to write a grant to the state of Illinois for classroom iPads. He was awarded this grant and started the change in his teaching. He was drawn to the idea of a student using technology to show what they had learned. From there the draw to help teachers and impact more students helped him into seeking out the Instructional Technologist roles.

 

In speaking with Ben it’s clear to see why he has been so successful in his role and why teachers are so eager to learn from him. He has a care and concern for the teachers and principals that he works with. He wants them to be successful and enjoys helping to expand their skill set. By helping teachers he has a wider impact on students in the district. For Ben, the most rewarding thing to hear from a teacher is how they took what they were taught and had success. Ben has a confident humbleness, evident of the journey he has been on. From possibly losing a teaching job, to being named an Apple Distinguished Educator, Ben has the ability to empathize and encourage teachers across the board. I got the feeling if a teacher was struggling with implementing a practice in the classroom, Ben would be walking beside that teacher providing support and encouragement along the way.

 

Ben, thank you for meeting with us. We wish you the best! And if you want to check out Vrain Waves follow them on Twitter @VrainWaves.

 

Stapp Inspires Spotlight: The Inn Between

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Spotlight! Throughout the year we partner with different organizations that are making a positive impact on the community we live in. We are proud to turn a spotlight on these organizations and this time is no different. We would like to highlight The Inn Between of Longmont.

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The Inn Between was founded in 1993 to address the needs of a diverse population of families and individuals experiencing homelessness by providing time limited housing with case management and life skills training to build their capacity to live self-sufficiently.

 

Each year, The Inn Between serves around 250 adults and children within the St. Vrain Valley. Homelessness in one of the most pressing issues facing our community. And it has the potential to touch everyone. From the aging couple that is facing insurmountable medical bills, to a single mom escaping domestic violence, there is a growing need for supportive housing services in our area. The Inn Between seeks to help fill the gap and set residents up with skills they need to attain sustainable housing.

 

The Inn Between recognizes the needs of the elderly in our community. This year they broke ground on the Micah Homes Project. This new permanent supportive housing project will include six homes, a community room, shared laundry and ongoing support services. This will help provide stability to some of our communities most vulnerable.

 

The Inn Between also provides support to students within the St. Vrain Valley School District. The Student Incentive Program aims to help homeless teens finish high school and provides life skills they will need as they move into adulthood.

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The Inn Between’s programs have proven effective, with 92% of last year’s program graduates moving on to a more stable life. While at The Inn Between, residents are required to pay rent based on income, complete different life skill training classes and undergo progress reviews every 6 months to ensure they are on the path to self-sufficiency.

 

We hope you will continue to check back as we highlight the different programs The Inn Between provides to those who are facing homelessness. If you want to learn more or get involved check out https://www.theinnbetween.org

 

Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight – Building A Legacy

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight. Each month we highlight a different educator in the district who are making a positive impact on those around them. This month we visit Mollie Kelleher. Mollie is a Computer Science Teacher at Altona Middle School. She is in her fourth year at Altona and has been a part of the district for 17 years.

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Mollie jokes she is a “recovering English teacher” having spent most of her career teaching English at a high school level. As our conversation moved from learning more about her background and what brought her to being a computer science teacher, glimpses of the legacy she is building started to shine. During her tenure as a high school English teacher in Montana, she noticed how many students needed remedial help. Instead of staying still she applied for and won a grant to establish a family literacy program. This program’s intent was to help students early in their academic career and reduce the need for remedial help later on.

Mollie lights up when talking about her current teaching role at Altona. She is having the time of her life at this point in her career. She confidently and gracefully accepts that she is no longer the expert in the room, and she is learning right along with her students. She wants her students not to be afraid of technology, but rather make it their tool. ‘Leading by example’ is her encouragement not only to her students but her co-workers as well.

Her passion for this space is amplified when she talks about her desire to reach and teach more young women and minority students in this field. She actively recruits these students for her coursework and helps them discover a pathway to a future career. Currently, she’s working on a video with these students to encourage even more students to explore these career paths.

Mollie’s passion extends to her co-workers, freely sharing her knowledge and skills. Mollie took me on a little tour of the school, specifically to the maker room. We walked in and students were using a design development tool called Agile Scrum. Students create projects, assign tasks and complete projects. Mollie attended a conference where she became an Agile Scrum Master. She came back and started a professional learning team at Altona and brought this back to her co-workers. As we walked back to the library to finish up our interview, we stopped by another teacher’s room where they had several scrum boards up and running.

As she goes throughout her day she leaves a little bit of inspiration in each room to challenge what is possible, to test limits and be comfortable doing so. Her legacy will be in helping students and co-workers to find their passions and directions.

Mollie, thank you for taking the time to meet with us, and we wish you all the best!

 

Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight – A Quiet Bridge Builder

This month we head out to Silver Creek and into the social studies classroom of Justelle Grandsaert. Justelle is in her 20th year of teaching and she was one of the first teachers who helped open Silver Creek High School 18 years ago. She grew up in California knowing that her calling was to be a teacher. After she graduated with her bachelor’s degree she spent a year teaching the early grades, but upon completing her Master’s Degree she discovered her passion was teaching high schoolers and never looked back.

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If you are thinking that you may have heard Justelle’s name mentioned in a past highlight, you are correct. Our 2017-2018 ‘Outstanding Student’, Parker Nicholas, said “Mrs. Grandsaert teaches with such passion, and I want to be the kind of teacher she was for me for someone else.” Parker credits Justelle (or Mrs. G as every student calls her) with inspiring her to go into education. Knowing this, I was excited to meet up with Justelle and learn more about what takes place in her classroom.

 

Justelle teaches freshman World Studies – a combination of history and literature. As students study ancient Greece they compliment those studies by reading Homer’s Odyssey. She helps students build bridges between points in time and how those environments influence writing. She wants her students to see history in a different light. It is not about dates and timelines, but rather the stories, the people and experiences that make up our pasts. Justelle encourages her students to look at history through different viewpoints and highlights the dangers of a ‘single story’. She wants her students to understand that some of the greatest heroes in history have flaws. Even if sometimes those flaws are major ones.

She also has a few sections of junior government where she strives to have her students see that it’s more than just three branches, but its alive and relevant to their lives. She provides opportunities for her students to identify a local policy that they would want to change and create a proposal on how to do it and present it to local authorities.

Whether a class is looking at flawed heroes or local policy, they both serve as a starting point to the most important lesson Justelle is teaching her students. Above all Justelle wants her students to know that they have a voice and it matters. She empowers her students to use their voice for good in the world. Justelle’s passion instills a spirit of inquiry that stays with students as they move forward in life.

Justelle has a heart for teaching and her students that is special and palpable. She is the type of teacher that quietly pushes her students to push themselves and go beyond what they thought was possible – without them realizing the journey they are on.

Justelle, thank you for taking the time to meet with us, it was truly an honor. We wish you the best!

 

Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight- A Cut Above

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight series! We are excited to introduce you to Hope Nazzaro, Culinary Instructor at the Career and Development Center (CDC). Hope is in her 15th year of teaching, having spent the last three years at CDC. She had previously taught at Skyline and Frederick High School. She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Family Consumer Science.

Hope Nazzaro

 

Before we settled down to begin our interview, Hope gave me a tour of the kitchen her students use on a daily basis. It’s a very professional kitchen. One of the myths that Hope quickly dispelled was that her classes were similar to the ‘home ec’ days of the past. Far from it.

 

Currently, culinary students complete a program called ProStart. This is a nationally recognized program that students complete over the course of a year. The CDC offers ProStart 1 and ProStart 2 with plans to add ProStart 3 in the future. The program offers students industry certifications they can use upon graduation. First year students are certified as ‘ServSafe Food Handlers’ while second year students complete the ‘ServSafe Manager’ program. These programs help students become industry ready and provide them an edge on the competition when applying for jobs or culinary school. Students are also able to earn college credit from Metro State.

 

Over the past three years Hope and her students have been busy. They attended the Denver Wine and Food Festival where they presented roughly 2,000 servings and competed at the Family Career Community Leaders of America. Each year they continue to improve. They also run Sunrise Cafe, which is an on-site restaurant that is open to the community three days a week for breakfast and lunch.

 

I asked Hope if she went to culinary school or had a lot of restaurant experience in her past. She mostly worked in restaurants throughout college, but also studied food science while attending CSU. I was struck by this. What a great example she is for her students. She never stopped learning or improving her skills. She rose to the challenge of starting a new program from the ground up and met it head on.

 

Hope is in a unique position with her students. She strives to instill valuable skills within her students to be successful in the culinary industry but also the skills to be successful adults. She reinforces accountability and responsibility with her students on a daily basis. This has led to some students labeling her “hard” or “mean”. This doesn’t bother Hope. “If I let up a bit, that’s how accidents in the kitchen happen.”

 

Hope realizes some of her students will choose to pursue other fields of study, but encourages them to stay current with their certifications, to continue to develop skills and to make contacts with other professionals. She wants her students to always have a backup plan. Sometimes life doesn’t work out as planned. The skills and certifications students gain in class can help them through tough times as they plan next steps.

 

I asked Hope what was the one thing she hoped every student would take away from her class. “Excuses are going to set you behind. Make sure you have the right mental attitude and keep going, you can do it.”

 

Hope, thank you for taking the time to meet with us. We wish you the best!

 

Stapp Inspires Spotlight: Longmont Humane Society

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Spotlight series, where we highlight different organizations in our community doing incredible work. This month we are featuring Longmont Humane Society.

 

This past weekend LHS hosted their annual Paws in the Park fundraiser. We loved seeing all the dogs and their people show up despite the weather! LHS is dependent on donations to help fund its mission of caring for the animals in our community.

 

Since 1972, Longmont Humane Society has been the premier animal sheltering and welfare organization in north Boulder County. LHS is an open-admission facility that treats each animal as an individual, offering shelter, food, medical and behavioral support.

In addition LHS offers a wide variety of services in support of the animals and the people who love them. In 2017 veterinary staff performed over 3,000 spay and neuter surgeries and 8,400 pets received low-cost veterinary care through their Well Pet Clinic.

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The Longmont Humane Society Public Training Program offers a wide variety of fun and effective training classes for learners of all levels. The Adoption Follow Up Program offers support to all dogs adopted from LHS for the life of the dog. LHS also strives to reunite lost pets with their owners. Pictures and descriptions of the animals are posted online and are updated regularly.  

We invite you to stop by Longmont Humane Society to check out what they are up to. And who knows maybe you will find a new furry friend.