Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight – Manufacturing Futures

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight Series! If you are joining us for the first time, thanks for stopping by. Each month we highlight a different educator within St. Vrain Valley Schools – individuals who are making an impact on their students, staff, and the entire community. We hope you will continue to join us as we travel around the district each month. 

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This month we headed to the Career Development Center (CDC) to meet with Neil Shupe, Director of Manufacturing at St. Vrain’s new Advanced Manufacturing Academy (AMA) – a program providing students with the opportunity to explore careers in welding, machining, optics and electronics. Over the last year, Neil and his team reclaimed the space vacated by the Innovation Center and transformed it into several state-of-the-art work stations, focusing on career paths within the field of manufacturing.

 

Over the past year, St. Vrain has devoted a great deal of time to develop curriculum and relationships with industry partners. By forming these connections Neil and his team are able to learn what skills employers are looking for and how to create programs fostering those skills. Students who complete a path within the AMA have the opportunity to walk away with several industry recognized certificates and/or robust skill sets to establish themselves in the workforce.

 

Another goal of the AMA is to challenge the notion that everyone must attend a 4-year college or university. Neil wants to highlight the demand and sophistication of manufacturing careers and break the stereotype of what technical education might look like. But there is so much more to this beautiful story.

 

Neil started his career in education teaching chemistry and biology. But also enjoyed working with his hands, making things. In college he had a woodshop set up in his closet that he would roll out to the patio and create wooden longbows. Today, the same passion extends to his classroom. Neil plans to be the heart and soul behind the AMA, encouraging students to find their greatest potential. His passion is not so much for the subjects that he teaches, but the students who come to take his classes.

 

He shared a story of a student greatly impacted by a caring teacher. This student spent a lot of time sitting in the hall, just outside the classroom, for one infraction or another. The student struggled to sit still, talked to everyone, and was considered ‘hyper-active’. As this student grew older, test anxiety also became an issue. The student comprehended what was being taught and excelled at other assigned projects; however, tests were a struggle. School was tough.

 

Believing a four-year degree was the only way to be successful, the student continued on to college. Testing remained a challenge and threatened the possibility of graduating.

Luckily, this student had a professor in his corner. Someone who saw beyond what a sheet of paper said, beyond a single test result. The professor recognized the student’s ability and allowed him to conduct classroom labs and went as far as to invite administrators to attend these labs. Neil was this student, and with the support of his mentor, he graduated.

 

Just as his professor believed in him, he believes in his students and strives to be open and available to each of his students. We can’t wait to see the AMA take off and the success of the students that have the opportunity to interact with Neil.

 

Neil, thank you for taking the time to meet with us. We wish you and the entire AMA team the best of luck as you start this new adventure in education! 

 

Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight – 2019 Outstanding Graduate

Welcome back to our monthly Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight! It’s hard to believe it, but we are at the end of another school year. We have enjoyed the privilege of traveling throughout the district for another year highlighting some incredible individuals. It’s been a journey and we hope you have enjoyed the ride as well. As we wind down another year, we want to focus not on an educator, but a graduate. A student who is an inspiration not only to their peers, but to the educators as well. This month we want to recognize 2019 Mead High School Graduate, Ryan Yancey. We had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan and we hope that you will be inspired and encouraged just like we were.

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To say Ryan has a creative streak is a bit of an understatement. This young man has been creating short films since he was in 7th grade. This interest in film led him to take video production classes at the Career Development Center and become Adobe Certified in Photoshop, Premier, and Illustrator. This opened up several opportunities to create short films and enter them into different film festival competitions, both locally and internationally. At one such festival he had a film nominated for ‘Best Writing’. This past year he was the editor for MAV TV, a biweekly news broadcast for the High School. Thankfully, these are also online so you can see the talent and where this young man is headed. Take a look here!  He credits his time between classes at the CDC and his involvement with Mead High Schools Musical Theatre program as helping to build a foundation for his future.

 

It should be no surprise that Ryan is headed to the Colorado Film School after graduation. He made the observation that everyone is consuming media on a daily basis, but not everyone has what it takes to create that content. Ryan’s passion, dedication and curiosity to this space will no doubt serve him well as he continues his education. Ryan is still narrowing in on what aspect of content creation he wants to explore. He has a strong interest in writing and directing films. In addition to creating films, Ryan has explored both photography and graphic design. He has used these skills to help design programs, and posters for school performances.

 

Using these platforms, Ryan has been able to use his voice and those of his peers to elevate their thoughts and ideas. He is able to see how he can have a positive impact on the world around him through the use of media. His most recent project, “ The After Hours Incident”  highlights where Ryan is in his journey and where he is going.

 

As we wrapped up our interview, I asked Ryan if he had any advice he would like to pass on to the incoming freshman class. “Try a little bit of everything, even if it’s not a “fit” or something you normally would do. We have some great people at Mead High School, so don’t be afraid to go for it.”

 

We would like to wish Ryan and the entire class of 2019 congratulations! We can’t wait to see where you will go and what you will do next.

 

Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight – A Coach for All Teams

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight! This month we stopped by Skyline High School and spent some time with Casey Luker. Casey Luker is the Learning Technology Coach for the Skyline Feeder System. She has been in this position for the past three years and spent seven years as a high school English teacher. Casey has always had an interest in technology; her Master Thesis project was based on The Scarlet Letter and creating a virtual world like those found in Second Life – an online virtual world. So she created a similar world for The Scarlet Letter, and students would have to take different characters to different places that followed the story’s plot line. Casey’s main focus is helping teachers take the available technology and pairing it with their lessons, helping enhance student learning. When the district rolled out iPads for every student, Casey was there helping teachers and students utilize this new technology in the classroom.

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Casey is passionate about her current space. Her eyes light up when describing how she is able to help her fellow teachers. She looks for creative ways to share her knowledge with others. Casey is able to take her passion for technology in the classroom and combine it with compassion. She understands the constraints and challenges teachers face and looks for ways to help teachers grow professionally. Bringing blended learning into a classroom can be a challenge, but Casey is there to coach teachers on best practices. Casey also steps in to assist teachers. When trying something new, it’s helpful to have an extra set of eyes. Casey’s there to support teachers however she can.

 

Casey shared that it’s the period after a professional development – while reflecting on successes and missteps – that she learns the most. She encourages and supports teachers by providing a time and space to do the same. Casey has a soft spot in her heart for classroom teachers and their continuous work with students to help them succeed.

 

There is a gentleness within her. One that will go that extra step with a teacher who might be struggling to incorporate the blended learning concept into the classroom. Casey is full of ideas and shares them freely with the staff she supports. One way she helps encourage collaborative learning with students is by helping facilitate the use of BreakoutEDU boxes within the classroom or professional development. Similar to an escape room, students have boxes that can only be unlocked by solving puzzles that must be done collaboratively. After uncovering clues, solving puzzles, and unlocking the locks, or running out of time, students are given a chance to reflect on the processes they used to solve the puzzles and how they might work together differently the next time.

 

While we were in our interview, I had this feeling that others are naturally drawn to Casey. She has a great joy that fills up a room, and a way to make you feel better about what’s going on. She is confident in who she is and has a subtle way of encouraging you to find it in yourself.  Casey is the type of coach you want in your corner, supporting you and cheering you on as you challenge yourself to take new ideas in the classroom. While she admits she does miss her own classroom, it is clear that the entire Skyline Feeder system benefits from her role as their Learning Technology Coach.  

 

Casey, thank you for taking the time to meet with us. You are an inspiration to the next generation of teachers and students. We wish you all the best!

 

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.

 

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 Educator Highlight-A Reflection

We started out on this journey June 2017 to highlight the teachers, staff, administrators in the St. Vrain Valley Schools who inspire those around them. We had an idea of the type of people that we were going to meet and learn about. But each and every time we have left the interview completely blown away.

My name is Erin Wuestenberg, I’m the Digital Marketing Manager at Stapp Interstate Toyota. I have been the on the other side of the screen sharing the stories of the district this past year. I wanted to give a little insight on how our interviews are done. I have a few questions that I ask each person I’m highlighting such as, how long they have been with the district, educational background, etc. I don’t research anyone before I meet them, and I love the adventure of finding out why they were chosen to be highlighted. 

By taking this approach I have been fortunate to hear some beautiful stories. Without a planned list of “questions to ask”, I have been able to notice little things in the environment. Perhaps it was a 5k sticker, a picture from a parade, a student drawing or a college t-shirt, that opened the door to those moments where I was left encouraged and inspired. I hope I have been able convey to you, how incredible these people are. And how fortunate we are to have them apart of SVVS.

To everyone I had the opportunity to meet and interview this year, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me, and allowing me to share your story to the world. In your own unique way you are making a life long impact on each student with in the district.  A special thanks to SVVS Communications Director Matt Wiggins for making initial contact with our Educator Highlights and help in the editing process. Thank you Dr. Don Haddad for identifying the individuals who are truly inspiring in every sense of the word.

Starting later this month we will begin our 2018-2019 Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight Series. We hope you will keep checking back as we travel around the district learning about the exceptional people with in SVVS. We also created a page with our past highlights as well.  Thanks for taking this journey with us, we are excited to see who we meet next! 

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Prospect Sound Bites 2017

Summer is just around the corner. School is winding down and the weather is starting to heat up. That can mean one thing, that Prospect Sound Bites is just around the corner!

What is Prospect Sound Bites? Is a summer long concert series that starts on Memorial Day (today!) and wraps on Labor Day. This is our 3rd season to partner with Prospect Sound Bites  and we are looking forward to another great season!

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Ok, details in case you haven’t visited. The concerts happen every Monday evening in the Prospect New Town neighborhood in Longmont. The concerts start at 5:30pm and go until 8:00pm. Each week a different local band plays. Prospect Sound Bites does a wonderful job of pulling bands in from different genres.

So we covered the Sound, now about the Bites. Feel free to bring your own picnic dinner with you, don’t forget your chairs or blankets to sit on! Or better yet visit one of the many food trucks that line the park. The food options are endless. We are talking, Mexican Street Food, Wood Fired Pizza and BBQ just to name a few. Make sure you save some room for dessert. Yep, you read that right a couple food trucks serving nothing but sweet treats have been known to pull up as well.

So check out this summer’s line up of great bands and we hope to see you at Prospect Sound Bites this summer!

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