Morgridge College of Education (MCE) alumni serve in every school district in the greater Denver area. MCE grads are in approximately 300 leadership positions in the Denver Public School District (DPS) alone. Those positions include 82 principals, 107 assistant principals, and 4 instructional superintendents from the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program (ELPS). That number doesn’t even include the hundreds of MCE alumni who have graduated from the Teacher Education Preparation program (TEP) and now serve in high-needs and high-achieving schools across the front range and beyond.

With such a long list of educators, it became something of a challenge to determine the best way to recognize them during the annual Teacher Appreciation Week. That’s when University of Denver’s (DU) Vice Chancellor for Advancement, Armin Afsahi, MCE’s Director of Alumni Engagement, Megan Stribling, and TEP Field Coordinator, Betsy Leonard, joined forces to create an extended two-week long Educator Appreciation Event in conjunction with DU’s Alumni Weekend activities.

According to Stribling, “At MCE, we love our teachers so much, we couldn’t show our appreciation in just one week – we had to do two! With Teacher Appreciation Week and DU’s Alumni Weekend back to back, combining them just made sense.”

The Appreciation Blitz kicked off during the traditional Teacher Appreciation Week and culminated with a visit by MCE Dean Karen Riley and Vice Chancellor Armin Afsahi to Carson Elementary School. At each school, recipients were presented with a basket of DU appreciation items, along with a Distinguished Partner certificate.

“Morgridge College is intentionally community-focused. We place upwards of 600 students in schools, mental health clinics and non-profits throughout the Denver area. We created the MCE Distinguished Partner designation this year, as a way to recognize those key organizations with whom we work. It’s a very symbiotic relationship,” said Dean Karen Riley.

Principal, Anne Larkin, seemed to agree with that description, “We love getting DU students and hiring them as teachers. They are so prepared when they come to us!”

Carson Elementary was selected as the final stop on the Appreciation Blitz due to the high number of MCE alumni that currently serve there, including Assistant Principal Valecia Von Weiss and School Lead for Teacher Mentoring Natalie Jacobsen.

Like many schools, Carson is not just home to MCE alumni, but also to current TEP student teachers. While touring the school, Riley and Afsahi made stops at each classroom where a mentor teacher was providing leadership to an MCE student educator. Mentor teachers, most of whom are MCE alumni, included Corey Broker, Natalie Jacobsen, Cynthia Smith, and Whitney Adams.

At one stop, Dean Riley was invited to participate in an impromptu sign language conversation with students in Ms. Diniro’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program (DHH) classroom.

This visit was the highlight of my day. It reminds us all of why we do what we do, and the profound impact our teachers make every single day,” said Riley.

 Armin Afsahi seemed to agree with that sentiment, as upon returning to the DU campus, he asked, “So, can we do that again tomorrow?!”

Although the senior leadership will probably not be making daily school visits, they will be hard at work raising awareness around the critical advances that DU alumni and all teachers are making to create more possibilities through access to quality education.

Curriculum and Instruction students, Elizabeth Carey and Desiree Seide, were selected for the Colorado Department of Higher Education’s (CDHE) inaugural Aspiring Educator Honor Roll and were acknowledged at the state capitol on Monday, May 8.

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation week, the ceremony recognized two outstanding students from Colorado’s 22 educator preparation programs. CDHE Executive Director Dr. Kim Hunter Reed gave remarks in the West Lobby of the capitol.

“This ceremony recognizes the tremendous impact our future educators will have on their students and the state of Colorado broadly,” said Dr. Reed. “Educators are training the next generation of artists, engineers, scientists and health professionals that will power our economy and enliven our communities. They truly make all other professions possible. We want all teachers and administrators—and especially our young educators—to know Coloradans support and appreciate their invaluable work.”

Elizabeth Carey

Elizabeth Carey, Curriculum and Instruction graduate student, was born and raised in Chicago, IL and received her undergraduate degree in psychology from University of Denver in 2016. Carey has excelled academically in the Teacher Education Program, where she worked to build professional and caring relationships with both her mentor teacher and her students at Cory Elementary. As an apprentice teacher in Denver Public Schools, Carey has demonstrated commitment to honoring her students’ diversity and unique needs. She maintains a high degree of professionalism and strives to craft differentiated lessons for her students that meet and exceed the Colorado Academic Standards.

Desiree Seidel

Desiree Seidel, Curriculum and Instruction/Teacher Education Program graduate student, is a passionate and gifted educator who knows how to create a classroom that is engaging, challenging, and responsive to the individual learning needs of her students. She combines her beliefs on teaching, pedagogical techniques, rapport with students, content knowledge expertise, and professionalism into a highly effective classroom teaching style. Her teaching is guided by the belief that all students can learn and it is her responsibility to find the right balance between teacher learning-objectives and student learning-abilities. Seidel graduated Cum Laude from the University of Denver with a bachelor of arts degree in English with a concentration in education and minors in Spanish and psychology.

Teacher Education Program (TEP) student Krystal Giles participated in a round-table discussion with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock as part of the Make Your Mark campaign. The round-table, hosted by Denver Public Schools (DPS) Acting Superintendent Susana Cordova and Mayor Hancock, focused on the important role teachers of color play as advocates and role models for students of color.

The Make your Mark Campaign is an initiative dedicated to diversifying the faculty population working in Denver schools by recruiting educators of color. Mayor Hancock, DPS, six charter school networks, and several foundations have teamed up to lead this campaign. Their goal is to assure that the faculty working in Denver schools better reflects the diverse student population.

Diversifying teacher demographics is especially important in Denver. Statistics from Make Your Mark show that—in DPS—while over 75% of Denver students are of color, teachers of color make up less than 25% of the regions educators.

As part of the TEP field experience requirement, Giles, a Dual Degree Teacher Education candidate at MCE, works as an Apprentice Teacher at Barnum Elementary School in Denver. She was invited to participate in the round-table through the connections she developed during her field experience.

MCE promotes inclusive excellence and diversity in all of its programs, and recruits students who have a passion for inclusivity. Students like Giles are trained to become ideal candidates for schools looking to employ teachers dedicated to serving diverse populations.

The true value of our Teacher Preparation Programs is the student’s immediate immersion into the classroom under the mentorship and guidance of seasoned teachers and MCE faculty. The Denver Teacher Residency Master’s DegreeTeacher Education Master’s Degree, and Dual Undergraduate-Graduate Degree in Teacher Education prepare students for the realities of the 21st-century classroom.

As a proven student leader at the University of Denver (DU), Richard Maez has been involved in an impressive number of leadership activities on and off campus. He has been a member of the University’s Pioneer Leadership Program; external co-president of the DU Programming Board; coordinator of the Excelling Leaders Institute at the Center for Multicultural Excellence; and a fellow in the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Undergraduate Fellowship Program. Maez is also involved with the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Program of Colorado, serving as chair of the four-day leadership seminar held every June for more than 200 Colorado high school sophomores. To add to his many accomplishments, Maez was recently awarded the Founders Day Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award by DU.

Maez is a participant in the Dual Undergraduate-Graduate Degree program offered by the Teacher Education Program (TEP) at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE). This program offers DU students the chance to complete an undergraduate degree of their choosing at the university. On completion of their undergraduate degree, students move on to complete their Master’s Degree at MCE. Candidates that complete the program finish with both an Undergraduate and Graduate Degree in under five years.

Maez, who has already completed the undergraduate portion of this program, will be completing his graduate degree at MCE in 2016. He says that his decision to continue his education at Morgridge was driven by “a passion for working with students”.

The TEP program focuses heavily on providing in context learning experiences for their students in order to equip candidates and turn their passion into purpose; a concept that Maez attributes as the key to his academic success.

Good day gold star 2We’d like to send a special congratulations to recent Teacher Education Program (TEP) graduate, Nina Jarnot. Nina has bas been awarded the Fox31 Good Day Gold Star Award, by Fox31 Denver. This monthly award goes to teachers who go above and beyond their call of duty.

With one week to go before the start of the 2014/2015 school year, Coyote Creek Elementary School in Highlands Ranch, CO, was in need of a second grade teacher. Nina quickly arrived to the rescue. She interviewed in the morning and by afternoon received a callback from administrators offering her the job, “It was a quick turnaround, but I was really thankful and excited,” Nina explains. The Good day gold star 3administrators aren’t alone in their approval of the new second grade teacher expresses one parent, “With her youth and enthusiasm, I think it really shines through, and I just think she’s a great asset to the school.”

The Morgridge College of Education and Teacher Education Program are proud of our very own, Nina Jarnot!

To see the Fox 31 segment highlighting Nina, follow this link:  http://www.covideo.com/p.php?s=51302bcd8b

“When I was growing up, I didn’t think I’d be a teacher. My parents were both teachers; my sister is a teacher; it’s the family occupation,” explains Aaron Stites, a fresh face in this year’s Teacher Education Program cohort at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education. “I was a probation officer for the State of Colorado for over four years, volunteered for six months to teach in Latin America and ended up as the director of an education program down in Nicaragua for 22 months. I was the program coordinator for a teen homeless shelter for a year and worked for the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver in an educational summer camp teaching 5th grade. I learned firsthand, that teaching was what I enjoyed most.”

His work experience, time abroad, and his family’s influence, along with some inspiration from teachers back home in Grand Junction helped Aaron confirm his passion for teaching. After deciding on a career path, Aaron started researching Teacher Education programs in the state of Colorado. “DU is head and shoulders above other programs in the state,” commented Stites. “It’s a selective, one year program based on a gradual release model, where students are placed in cohorts for a brief classroom period before learning InContext with an apprentice teacher and a classroom of students. I applied, interviewed, got accepted, and now I’m here.”

A Day in the Life of an Apprentice Teacher_1Among several cognate options, Aaron selected focused coursework around culturally and linguistically diverse learners for his masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Before starting classes at Morgridge College of Education, Aaron received his apprentice teacher and classroom assignment at Bryant-Webster Elementary School in the Denver Public School System to learn from and teach with Ginger Skelton and her 5th grade classroom. Bryant-Webster is the only early childhood education through 8th grade dual-language school in the state. Students at Bryant-Webster are on the course to be bilingual, bi-cultural and bi-literate in both Spanish and English by the 8th grade.

The first quarter of classes at DU started with four intensive courses: Second Language Acquisition with Dr. Maria Salazar, Teaching and Learning Environments with Jessica Lerner, Special Education with Dr. Molly Leamon, and Teaching Mathematics for Elementary Teachers with Dr. Richard Kitchen and Dr. Terrence Blackman. Stites elaborates: “In a matter of weeks, everything we’ve learned feels like six months of coursework. But I’ve already developed baseline fundamentals of managing a classroom, working with diverse populations and breaking down the subject most elementary teachers fear the most, math. All of these classes moved quickly to get us in our classrooms where it all comes together with experiential learning. You start with your classroom on their first day of school and observe the apprentice teacher for a while; eventually, you teach a lesson, then a few lessons, a full day, and ultimately a full week. It’s overwhelming, everything teachers have to do, but we get to see the whole process, from day one to the end of the year, all with the same group of kids.”

Before students filled the classrooms and hallways, Aaron joined Ginger and other Bryant-Webster faculty and administration for professional development, reviewing the philosophies of the school and the district and setting goals for the 2013-2014 academic year. Aaron describes his first few weeks in his apprentice classroom: “It has been rewarding to observe Ginger the past few weeks. She is a consummate professional and with 16 years of teaching experience, she has everything set up perfectly and collaborates often with other teachers. That first week with students is all about establishing expectations, behaviors and routines. It surprised me how much she went over transitions like changing classrooms or sitting down for floor time, but the kids really responded to it. I am excited to get to know my 5th grade classroom better; it’s a really interesting age because the kids are getting ready to transition to the next level, but are still definitely kids.”

Throughout the year, the InContext learning at Bryant-Webster will be coupled with many more classes at MCE. Stites reflects on his experience at MCE so far: “My cohort is filled with people of all different ages, from various places and diverse backgrounds. People came from occupations such as finance, the corporate world, international education, or are recent graduates. Most of the students are from Colorado, but many of my fellow classmates are from New York, California, and Tennessee (as well as other states). It’s enlightening for everyone when you have that kind of diversity. And each professor I’ve had has been extraordinary; no matter what the situation, they’ve ‘been there, done that’. Our teachers do the things that we need to do in our classroom, like setting up different ways of learning and displaying objectives for the day; they are modeling how to be an effective teacher.”

There are months to go and there is much to learn, but when asked what his dream job is, Aaron answers, “I’m concentrated on being a good teacher, to feel like I’ve made an impact and that my kids are getting the knowledge and understanding they need to move on to the next level … that, is my dream job.”

Click here to learn more about the program Aaron Stites is in, the Teacher Education Preparation program.

Barth Quenzer, Teacher Education Program graduate and DU change agent, was recently recognized for his exceptional teaching at Brown International Academy when he received the $25,000 Milken Educator Award. Barth’s passion for helping kids and active involvement in writing new art standards for Colorado contribute to the qualities that make Barth a model teacher for the state and the nation. With a natural tendency to teach and engage his classroom, Barth is impacting the way his students view and learn art.

At Brown International Academy, Quenzer has established a classroom for kindergarten through fifth grade students that isn’t just about teaching art, but teaching students to be artists.  Quenzer created a collaborative art space for his students to be artists in their specific talents, working together toward a greater vision. Barth also runs the after-school art club further elaborating on the importance of collaboration and community when it comes to understanding art.

Starting in 1985, the Milken Educator Awards were created to give educators the recognition they deserve. The Milken Educator Awards celebrate and ignite excellence in the education sector. Each year, outstanding teachers across the nation are selected to receive the Milken Educator Awards based on instructional practices, educational accomplishments, contributions to education, and inspiring classroom presence. Quenzer was one of the 40 teachers recognized nationwide this year by the Milken Family Foundation. Like many Milken Educators, Barth is and will continue to be an agent of change in reforming and strengthening K-12 education for years to come.

Among other professional achievements, Barth has also been awarded the 2012 Elementary Art Educator of the Year from the Colorado Art Education Association (CAEA) and the 2009 Mile High Teacher of the Year Award. Barth has been selected to serve as Content Collaborative member by the Colorado Department of Education to develop assessment and effective teaching strategies in visual arts.

Barth was Morgridge College of Education’s featured guest for the Winter Signature Event on January 17, 2013.

Find out more about Barth and the Milken Educator awards here

 


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