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 Organization Spotlight- The Longmont Chorale

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Organization Spotlight blog! If you are joining us for the first time, thanks for taking the time to stop by and check out who we are highlighting this month! Throughout the year we highlight different organizations that are making a positive impact in our community. At Stapp Interstate Toyota we believe that changing the world begins right here, in our backyard! We are proud to partner with and introduce you to the Longmont Chorale.

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Did you know that we have had a community choir in Longmont since 1937? Formed as the Longmont Community Chorus and rebranded in the 1980’s to Longmont Chorale, the choir has been filling community with music for more than 80 years. One unique aspect of the Longmont Chorale is that it is open to all who want to sing. It is one of the only non-auditioned choirs left on the front range. Singers also have the opportunity to choose which concerts they want to perform in.

 

The Longmont Chorale is open for membership by signers of all ages and abilities, from the beginner who is trying their voice for the first time to the signer with years of experience under their belt. Since the Chorale is open to everyone, it is not unusual to see a high school senior singing side by side a senior citizen. This helps build a camaraderie between members. The Chorale have members who have been performing for decades. Through this open approach to a community choir, the Chorale seeks to enrich the lives of singers and patrons through the study, creation and performance of beautiful choral music.

 

The full Chorale currently performs four major concerts a year, featuring an extremely diverse repertoire across genes such as; Pops, Jazz, Showtunes, Hebrew, Celtic, Modern, new music and so much more. In addition, the Chorale hosts several smaller events with the Chorale Singers. The Chorale Singers perform at special events and gigs around our community. Any of these concerts can also be paired with other local groups. In the past the Chorale has partnered with guests artists, children’s choirs, symphony or band to bring a truly unique experience to the Longmont area.

 

The Longmont Chorale is also invested in supporting the youth in our community and the future of vocal music. To help encourage youth to participate high school students and college age students up to age 22 have their membership fees waived. In addition, the Longmont Chorale hosts their annual Youth Vocal Competition.  Winners receive a cash prize, the first place winner earns an opportunity to perform at a Longmont Chorale concert, and all participants receive valuable feedback from the judges.

 

A special thank you to the Longmont Chorale for enriching the lives of all our community members and bring us together in a way that only choral music can. We want to encourage everyone to take the time and attend a Longmont Chorale concert. You won’t be disappointed, as they say they are “Singing From Our Hearts To Yours!”

 

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 – Collaborative Control

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight series. This month we are headed over to Erie High School to meet Kelsey Rasmussen. Kelsey is in her fourth year at Erie High School and she is the Focus Program Coordinator of Erie High School’s Academy of Engineering and Aerospace.

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Kelsey is also one of the founding teachers of the program. When I met with Kelsey, her students were getting ready to pitch a presentation to a local CEO to request funding for an upcoming national competition. Her students competed and won the state Real World Design Challenge and are preparing to go to the National Competition in April. In fact, her students greeted their guest and began their presentation on their own while we were meeting, and this stood out in a positive way. Kelsey talked about having confidence and trust in her students. It’s one thing for a teacher to tell students what they think, but it’s completely different to actively demonstrate what they truly believe about them. This simple act of releasing control of the learning process to students is a strong component of this program.

 

Kelsey sees herself in a support role with her students. She strives to challenge her students, she sets them up for success, but when her students do not put in the work, she will allow failure in her classroom. When this happens, Kelsey is the first one to build that student back up, evaluate what went wrong, and help decide what next steps need to be made. Some of her high achieving students have never experienced failure in the classroom or had a problem they couldn’t solve on the first try. They struggle with anything less than perfection. Kelsey allows students to develop coping skills, to pick themselves back up, and not be discouraged in the process. By allowing her students to develop these coping skills, she is setting them up for success that will last far beyond their time in her classroom.

 

Another aspect of Kelsey’s classroom is providing a safe, nurturing learning environment. She prioritizes collaboration over competition and interdependence to complete projects. Kelsey loves watching her students grow from shy freshman to independent, confident seniors. Kelsey is proud of her students and what they accomplish each year. She has confidence and trust in her students, even when they might struggle to believe it themselves. She sets her standards high because she knows what they are capable of achieving. She challenges her students to take what they know and solve the next challenge.

 

Kelsey will challenge her students and while they might not like it at the time, they can look back and see the benefit and how far they have came in their own journey.

 

Kelsey, thank you for inspiring the next generation. We wish you and your students the best of luck at the National Real World Design Challenge!

 

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Stapp Inspires Spotlight Organization-TLC- Learning Center

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Organization Spotlight. Throughout the year we partner with and highlight different organizations that are having a positive and inspiring impact on our community. This month we would like to spotlight TLC Learning Center. Formally known as Tiny Tim Learning Center, TLC has been educating children of all abilities since 1956.
 
TLC first opened its doors as a school for children with cerebral palsy in the basement of a local church. Parents of the students came together to found the school. At the time, families traditionally sent children with special needs to live in institutions. This practice began to change in the 1950’s, and TLC was one of the first schools that enabled children with developmental disabilities to live at home. Over the years TLC has undergone a number of different changes, including location, name and scope of services. Today, TLC classrooms provide care and early childhood education for children from eight weeks old to six years old. Every classroom on campus is fully inclusive, with children of diverse abilities learning side by side.
TLC also offers a range of therapies to its students, all on site. Students often receive therapies sessions in the classroom. This allows the students to stay engaged with their classmates and not miss out on what’s going on. Another benefit of therapy on campus is the presence of other sets of trained eyes in the classroom helping to identify any possible delays in other students as well.
 
TLC has high expectations for all children; they are passionate about preparing children for success in kindergarten and beyond. They do this in a unique way; with small classes sizes, low student to teacher ratios, and a diverse and inclusive learning environment.
 
By focusing on the whole child with early academics instruction and social-emotional and character skill building, TLC is helping nurture success in each student who comes through their doors.
 
Over the years TLC has gone through significant changes. The biggest is going from just offering services to children with special needs to expanding into an inclusive learning center for children of all abilities. TLC positively  impacts the youngest members of our community.
 
We hope you will join us as we continue to highlight TLC Learning Center this year. We would like to extend an invitation to join us at the 5th Annual 2019 Kentucky Party on May 4th at the Shupe Homestead!  
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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.