Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight – A Change in Definition

Welcome back to our monthly Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight series. We are starting our second year of highlighting those individuals in the district who are inspiring those around them to reach their full potential. We are excited to share their stories as we go throughout the year.

To begin the 2018-2019 school year we start at Sunset Middle School with School Resource Officer (SRO), Scott Pierce. The very first thing he admitted to me was that he didn’t think he qualified for our recognition, because he wasn’t an “educator”. In the traditional sense of how we define an “educator” he is completely correct. Scott has been on the Longmont Police Department force for 33 years. He has spent his entire career serving the city of Longmont, and for the last 10 years he has split his time between Sunset Middle School and Altona Middle School. By any standard definition Scott is a police officer. However, he is actively challenging what an educator is within the district. He does this in the most graceful and sincere way.

Scott Pierce

 

Before Scott became a SRO he spent time on patrol and was a detective with the Youth and Family Crimes Department. Eventually he transitioned back to patrol and started working with the Longmont Police Cadets. He has spent his entire career working with kids in one way or another. When the position to be an SRO opened up he jumped at the chance to continue his work with students. Make no mistake, Scott has the composure and confidence of someone who has been on the job for 33 years, but a compassionate side kept shining through our conversation.

After interacting with adults on patrol for so many years Scott has a unique view when he enters his school each day. He sees each student as someone who has great potential. This attitude doesn’t change when he is called to assist with discipline. Instead of making quick decisions on the street, Scott has an entire year to interact and work with a student. He says that students have a great capacity to change, and if minor problems are caught early, most students will make better choices and get back on the right path. He gets great satisfaction helping students – and parents – understand the consequences of their actions and steering them to make better choices. He is truly concerned with what is in the best interest of the student. Scott views his school as his school and certain behaviors will not happen in his school. He begins every student conversation in this manner and in the end, encourages the student to view their school in the same manner.

The biggest part of Scott’s job is not discipline, but forming relationships with the teachers, staff and students. From time to time you might catch him in a classroom teaching a lesson or discussing the Constitution in a history class and how it relates to everyday life. He might be in a health class conducting a unit on drugs and alcohol recognition. In each case, he is giving his students a different perspective on how the world works. Students love having him come in a teach, and it’s not hard to understand why. On the day of our our interview, he mentioned that later in the afternoon he would be refereeing a school basketball game – students vs. teachers.

Our conversation started to look ahead to what comes next. After 33 years on the force, Scott’s retirement is on the horizon. One thing Scott was adamant about was his retirement as a SRO for Sunset/Altona Middle Schools. He has no desire to do anything else. He truly enjoys his work and wouldn’t trade the relationships he’s established for anything.

Every once in awhile, Scott will work at a Niwot or Silver Creek High School football game. He says kids will call out to him from the stands – waving – ready to share what they’re up to. Scott has a strong sense of pride when it comes to visiting former students. To see his students prosper and on the right path means the world to him.

 

Scott, thank you for taking the time to meet with us. The impact you are having on the students, teachers and administrators in your school is far reaching. We wish you the best!

 

Advertisements

Stapp Inspires Teacher Highlight

 

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Teacher Highlight! I’m Erin, the Digital Marketing Manager for the dealership.

This month we want to take a closer look at the Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools (IC). The IC has been a part of the district for a few years now and has really filled a need in preparing students for life after they graduate. At the IC, students can get their Apple Certification or work on creating and producing a product that solves a need for real-world clients. St. Vrain Valley Schools is in the process of building a new Innovation Center with the groundbreaking scheduled to begin in early August and an anticipated start date of Fall 2018. The passage of the bond in November of 2016 will allow St. Vrain to expand and branch out to all students. The new facility will be a hub for the entire district. Both students and educators will have access to the latest in industry standard tools and experts in the field.

As with any project, the success of the new facility depends on the team that is running it. Meet Axel Reitzig, he is the Robotics and Computer Science Coordinator for the IC. He has been an educator for a total of 25 years. He started teaching German at a college level. He later decided to pursue his German and Language Arts endorsement and taught middle schoolers for a few years. Eventually he went through the Library Sciences program and was teaching STEM with robotics and Computer Science emphasis before coming to the IC. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him recently.

Axel Reitzig

 

Axel has that intangible quality that you hope every teacher has. In just talking to him, I was ready to go back to high school and sign up for one of his classes. He is truly an expert in his field, but always yields to letting students find their own answers. He believes that we are all creative problem solvers and innovators. Axel focuses on three components when interacting with his students; engagement, challenge and transformation.

He said students need to be ‘engaged ‘with the world around them, not just intellectually, but emotionally and socially as well. The ‘challenge’ part is making sure students are applying their skills authentically, that there is a true means to an end, not just filling out a worksheet. Where the struggle to learn a certain math component goes from dread because “it has no purpose” to  “if you want your project, or app to work you need to figure this out”. And finally, ‘transformation’. Can students apply what they have learned to something they have to design?

His quiet passion for his students and their work is evident. He enjoys providing his students authentic learning opportunities, where abstract becomes concrete and projects are meaningful to students. On thing he said has stuck with me. When talking about his students and their work he said. “Students are natural learners and problems solvers. They want to help and make a real difference in their world.”  We then took a look at one project the students are currently working on for Boulder County Open Space.

 

Do you remember when students from Skyline created the underwater camera so a researcher in Peru could study frogs in their natural habitat? (If not see here). Boulder County Open Space intrigued by the project, asked the students if they could build something able to create topographical maps of the lakes, streams, and ponds.

Sometimes certain aspects are outside Axel’s realm of expertise. The entire team at the IC has reached out and partnered with members of the community to provide support for some of these projects. Retired engineers and IT specialists are just a few of the people who mentor and help support these students.

Axel is also quick to highlight what his colleagues are up to. I got the sense that even though I was only talking to Axel, a strong team mentality exists at the IC. Axel doesn’t work as a teacher telling students the outcomes of their projects, but as a facilitator instead. He said, “The best thing I can do is let students take technology out for a ‘test drive’. I want to provide opportunities for transformative experiences. I get out of the way, and if needed, provide help or find someone who can help.”

Axel, thank you for your time and dedication to all students within our community. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. We are excited to partner and support the IC and St. Vrain Valley Schools.

We wish you and your entire team the best as you work to expand and open the new Innovation Center.