Like so many year-end events, the Spring 2020 gathering at which Colorado Academy faculty and staff were honored had to be rescheduled and reimagined. But Head of School Dr. Mike Davis still found a way to celebrate the outstanding work of faculty and staff via Zoom on June 3. He opened the event by reminding everyone that, because of the challenges posed by conducting school during a pandemic, the role played by teachers and their work with young people is “vitally important now, more than ever.”
Each year, faculty members nominate deserving teachers for three different awards that recognize excellence in classroom teaching.
Lindsey Owens, a Lower School Instructor, received the Frances Newton Outstanding Faculty Award. The award honors faculty who model teaching excellence, render exemplary service on behalf of students and colleagues, and who, in their teaching practice, provide examples of the multiple talents and values that are mirrored in the school’s mission. “Her genuine, kind, and caring demeanor make her a true joy to work with each day,” Davis said. “She is loved and respected by students, parents, and colleagues as someone who cares about others and is always willing to go the extra mile.”
The Connie Adcock Award for Inspirational Teaching, endowed by an anonymous family in 2011, was named for a faculty member who taught Kindergarten and First Grade at CA for 21 years. It recognizes a teacher who ignites in students a lifelong love of learning and creative expression through the use of innovative teaching methods. The 2020 Connie Adcock Award was awarded to Middle and Upper School Theater and Theater Tech Preceptor Steve Scherer. “He manages to make the unimaginable happen on our stages year in and year out,” Davis said. “He has inspired all of us, students and colleagues alike, to be the brightest versions of ourselves, each and every day.”
Finally, CA honors a faculty member each year with the Yoeman Fisher Award for Teaching Excellence, an honor that was instituted in 1980 in memory of a beloved retiring teacher. It was established to recognize a teaching career that has been punctuated by creative, inventive, and inspiring teaching.
The Yoeman Fisher Award winner, Master Teacher Kimberly Jans, chairs the Upper School Computer Science Department and serves as CA’s Upper School Technology Coordinator and Academic Web Coordinator. Fourth Grade Master Teacher and Yoeman Fisher Award Chair Suzanne Kolsun Jackson paid tribute to Jans, calling her “one of the most outstanding computer science teachers in the country. A woman in a field dominated by men, she has been an outspoken advocate for women in computer science and has helped many girls discover their passion for programming.”
Head of School Awards
The Head of School Award for Distinguished Service recognizes extraordinary service to Colorado Academy. In 2020, Dr. Davis recognized an individual and a group of CA staff members.
Albert Archuleta began his career at CA in 1984, right out of high school, and has done just about every job imaginable as a member of the Operations staff. “He arrives every afternoon, no matter the weather or circumstances, ready to give his utmost to keep our school looking its best,” said Davis. “In this unsettling age of COVID-19, he is also keeping us safe. He models everything good about CA: loyalty, commitment, perseverance, kindness, and most importantly, caring deeply for Colorado Academy and its community.”
CA’s Technology Team was also recognized with a Head of School Award for Distinguished Service. The team includes:
- Jared Katzman, Director of Technology
- Rory Butler, Network Administrator
- Jonathan Ender, Technology Support Specialist
- Kimberly Jans, US Computer Science Instructor & Technology Coordinator; Academic Web Coordinator
- Jennie Kies, Technology Integration & Innovation Specialist
- Bill Witt, Lower School Technology Coordinator
“All of these colleagues have stepped up to ensure that we could continue learning during COVID-19,” Davis said. “Without this group, we would have been in deep trouble. Everyone worked hard to support our teachers make the transition to remote teaching and learning.”
Davis also recognized two departing members of the CA Staff.
Ed Bleã served as CA’s Director of Security for 14 years, a second career after spending 33 years in service to the Denver Police Department, where he retired with the rank of Detective.
“Ed goes out of his way to help others,” Davis said. “Every day he welcomed students and families as they entered campus, and every day he was in the Dining Hall, making sure that students are safe as they gather. Ed is a person you can count on to protect and serve. He modeled this in everything he did at CA.”
Davis also recognized Renée Rockford, who, for more than a decade, served in multiple roles at Colorado Academy, including Director of Communication and Assistant Head of School for Advancement and External Affairs, spearheading and transforming both communications and fundraising efforts at CA.
“What is so important about Renée’s work is that she is able to so effectively communicate the ‘soul’ of CA,” Davis said. “Our message resonates because it is authentic and true. You will not find a person with a better sense of ethics or judgment. I have been so grateful for her courage and conviction. She also has a tremendous sense of compassion and justice. She has helped shape our institution’s compassionate responses to personal tragedies and world events, like we are experiencing now on many levels. Her sense for humanity is unparalleled.”
Dr. Davis also recognized eight faculty members who took part in a rigorous process of study and evaluation through the school’s professional development program that provides three levels of advancement, including Senior Instructor, Preceptor, and Master Teacher. Those faculty who achieved a new level of advancement include:
- David Frankel, Upper School Science – Senior Instructor
- Austin Harvey, Upper School Math – Senior Instructor
- Ross Holland, Upper School English – Senior Instructor
- Peter Horsch, Upper School Math – Preceptor
- Suzie Jekel, Upper School Science – Preceptor
- Megan Ollett, Grade One – Senior Instructor
- Martha Smith, Upper School Science – Preceptor
- Tom Thorpe, Upper School English & REDI Lab Coordinator – Preceptor