Public School Experience:
Since 1985, I have always taught in Denver Public Schools. My 32 year career has included elementary, middle, and high school education.
From 1985 - 1988, I worked at Mitchell Elementary School as a Grade 3 ELA-S teacher. From 1988-1989 I worked as a Grade 3 ELA-S teacher at Force Elementary School. From 1989 - 2000 I worked at Munroe Elementary School as a Grades 4 - 5 ELA-S teacher. From 2000 - 2014 I worked at Kepner Middle School where I taught Grades 6 - 8 in a variety of subjects including math, reading, English Language Acquisition, and a travel class. Since 2014 to the present I teach at West Leadership Academy on the West Campus where I teach social studies in Spanish and English Language Development to students in Grades 6 - 12. I will also teach a new class, Advanced Placement Seminar for the 2017 -2018 school year.
Since 2006 I am a Museum Teacher Fellow for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and run conferences and seminars for teachers and professors regarding Holocaust and genocide education. Currently, I am working with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the Ministry of Education in El Salvador to train teachers in Holocaust and genocide education.
In 2008, I began work with EF tours as a Global Education Ambassador where I have trained teachers and have given talks on my dissertation.
From 2004 - 2014, I held the position of Executive Director for the Kepner Educational Excellence Program, a supporting nonprofit of Kepner Middle School. KEEP supported student educational travel at Kepner Middle School and provided mini grants for teachers to assist in building relationships and strengthening academic achievement. From 1993 - 2014, my team and I traveled with over 800 students from the Westwood neighborhood to Washington, DC and Europe. These educational trips were designed to provide students an opportunity to see first hand the places they learned about in school. In 1993, I took my first group of students from Grade 5 from Herbert to the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. We continued these trips for seven years. In 2000, two other teachers, two paraprofessionals, and I moved to the Kepner Middle School where the majority of our elementary students attended middle school. There we continued our Washington, DC trips for students in Grade 6. In 2003, we began a trip to Europe for students in Grade 8. With a team of adults, I organized the trips, taught the elective travel classes for the trips, helped fundraise, and held parent meetings.
It was during my fundraising endeavors that many people asked for me to demonstrate that travel changes the lives of our students. I responded with anecdotal stories of individual students but it left me wondering what the data would say about the effects of travel. In 2005, I began my PhD work in order to answer that question.
While some might see quality urban education as an ideal never to be achieved, I agree with Palmer (2004) and Boechler (2004) when they discuss a professional’s ability to stand in “the tragic gap.” Boechler states,
In A Hidden Wholeness (2004) Parker Palmer speaks of the "tragic gap" that we stand in today in our world. The tragic gap can be described as holding the tension between two opposites, or the gap between the way things are and the way we know things ought to be. (p. 7)
In fact, it is this tragic gap that inspired me in 1993 to take a group of students to Washington, DC. I saw other schools traveling with their students in wealthier neighborhoods and I thought “why not?” I saw the possibility of educational travel for my students but there was a gap from how things were (no travel) to how things ought to be (educational travel for low-income students).
It is through educational travel with my students that I have found the ability to push toward creating a learning environment where I see the way things are and can push to what I know they ought to be as Boechler states. West (1989) argues that there is always room to push toward an ideal. I agree: I believe that I can push others and myself to create a challenging, equitable, empowering, and developmentally appropriate place where all children can learn. This place is educational travel. I believe this study not only provides some answers as to why educational travel is important, but also illuminates effective middle school education practices and the dedication of the students and their families to these trips.
Awards & Honors:
2009, 2012 Two-time honoree of Southwest Denver Education Coalition Excellence Award, Denver Public Schools, Denver, CO.
2010 Featured in The Highly Engaged Classroom (Marzano, Pickering, Helfebower).
December 2009 Featured in 50 in 52: A Journey to Find the People Moving America Forward. (Michaelson). Selected as one of “America’s problem solvers, listening to its idea generators, and empowering its public” and featured as one of the people from Colorado for the “50 in 52 Journey” Project (http://www.50in52journey.com/states/Colorado14.asp)
November 2008 Named one of Denver’s 150 People: Recognizing people through history who shaped our city, Denver, CO.
2006 Selected to be featured in “Have You Met?” by Blacktie Colorado, Denver, CO.
2006 – present Selected from a pool of national applications to be a Museum Teacher Fellow, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC.
2005 Gold Star Teaching Methods Award from the Southwest Area Superintendent’s Office, Denver Public Schools, Denver, CO.
March 2005 Excellence in Education award from the Holocaust Awareness Institute at the University of Denver, Denver, CO.
October 2000 7 Everyday Heroes Award by Channel 7, Denver, CO.
April 1998 Remember for Tomorrow Alliance’s Humanitarian Lifetime Service Award. Sponsored by the Colorado Symphony, Denver Art, Culture and Film Foundation, and the Holocaust Awareness Institute at the
University of Denver, Denver, CO.
April 1994 Beth Joseph Synagogue Humanitarian of the Year Award, Denver, CO.
Summer 1994 Recipient of a scholarship from private Holocaust survivors to attend The Holocaust and Antisemitism: International Summer Institute for Educators. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel.
Summer 1991 King Juan Carlos Fellow to the Quincentennial Summer Program for Advanced Spanish Language in Madrid, Spain.
1987-1990 Title IV Fellow to pursue degree in Masters of Arts, Curriculum and Instruction in Education, (Language and Culture Program), University of Colorado, Denver, CO
I received my B.A. in Elementary Education and Spanish from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa in August 1985. I received my M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis is Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Colorado at Denver in August 1990. I received my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from the University of Denver in August 2016. My dissertation, The Meaning of Educational Travel in the Lives of Urban Middle School Students: A Transformative Mixed Methods Study, examined quantitative data from DPS and qualitative data from interviews and a focus group.
In addition, I hold a Colorado Professional Master Teacher License and am a National Board Certified Teacher (Middle Childhood Generalist) since 1999. I am certified in English Language Arts, Social Studies, Linguistically Different (ESL), and Spanish.