My passion for education began with my own educational experiences. I struggled in high school, attending 5 separate high schools looking for purpose and meaning in my education. Three of these schools were alternative schools, attempting each in their own way to meet the challenges of educating a changing populous. I have always been a reflective person; I saw each school as different, but not channeling the inner passions I held.
When my daughter, Mikayla, was born her educational destiny became my passion. In college I studied sociology, history and education. Studying these disciplines together dissuaded me from pursuing the path as an educator, making the connections between my discontent in high school and what was being asked of teachers today. Instead I choose to study other models of education: Waldorf, Montessori, and Sudbury. In collaboration with a group of parents and local educators we undertook the challenge of implementing a Sudbury model school in Durango. Despite our unsuccessful efforts I learned a lot about the inherent nature of learners and an understanding of what was needed to educate individuals today.
All the while my professional pursuits were geared more towards working with at-risk youth. I tutored at local low-income housing projects, taught life-skills class, and eventually found myself in wilderness therapy. At Open Sky Wilderness Therapy I was again able to gain insights on the impacts modern society has on our adolescence. Through many therapeutic conversations with teens I found a common thread; they felt their lives were worthless, not doing anything of value day to day. Understanding the need everyone has to be valued I pushed this idea, why did they not feel valued. Often this conception came from meaningless days spent in school, where their true potential and abilities were not being channeled. Ah, yes, this was what I felt in high school.
While working at Open Sky I had read an article in the Telegraph about the formation of Animas High School. I researched further, looking into High Tech High and the intentions of this school model. I knew then that I belonged at Animas. At this point I returned to school to receive my teaching license in Secondary Social Studies. While in school I worked closely with Lori Fisher, from the first year Animas opened to my student teaching in 2011. I began working at the school with the ESS department in 2012, and took on my first year of teaching in the fall of 2012. I taught one section of 9th grade humanities and two sections of 12th grade Global Issues. At the end of the school year I knew I had found my place in the world.
Outside of school I am primarily a mom, but enjoy West African dance, mountain biking, and paddle boarding. Much like everyone in Durango, I also go backpacking, hiking with my family, and love to float the river. I have lived in Durango for 23 years, and I LOVE this community! I enjoy the farmers market, local festivals, and strolling through the town, where I can see the many people I have come to know and love over the years. A strong community is important to me. With this I feel passionately that each and every teen has the right to find passion, in or out of school. And it is only through this internal drive and passion that our teens will find their place in the world.