Lower School music instructor Brenda Bartel
Lower School music instructor Brenda Bartel won the 2019 Frances Newton Award for Excellence.

Great teaching, amazing faculty at the heart of CA’s excellence

In response to my query to the Colorado Academy community for feedback about a rewrite of our school’s Mission Statement, I’ve received numerous responses with great ideas and suggestions from parents, grandparents, and alumni. I will share detailed feedback in a future blog post, but one thing that people remarked about over and over again is their gratitude for our Colorado Academy faculty.

One parent wrote:

“I am continually blown away by the excellence at CA. There are many teachers and faculty that could be at a prestigious university (or have been) but have chosen to work at CA. We are so lucky, because their intellect, skills, care, and know-how are exceptional … This is also seen in the commitment to ensuring all kids play sports (or physical pursuits), explore artistic expression (through arts requirements), and get the support they need. The attention to quality throughout is noteworthy and something it seems to me CA takes very seriously and aspires to in all it does.”

The influence of great teaching is irreplaceable. I have been trying to envision what education and schools will look like 20 years from now. I have no doubt that artificial intelligence will be part of the school experience in America. One thing I hope we don’t do is to turn over teaching to robots. Teaching is a human enterprise.

This past week, we celebrated the excellence of some of our teachers. We have three major teaching awards. The Frances Newton Award for Excellence is an award given to teachers who are able to leverage their expertise to achieve great learning outcomes. This year we recognized Lower School music instructor Brenda Bartel, Middle School math teacher Kathy Zolla, and Upper School Chinese teacher Julie Wei for their strong work.

We also give the Connie Adcock Award for Inspirational Teaching. This goes to a teacher who inspires passion in their subject. This year’s recipient was Dani Meyers, an enthusiastic and caring Upper School science teacher.

Finally, select faculty vote on the Yoeman Fisher Award for Teaching Excellence. This recognizes the “body of work” of a committed and dedicated teacher. This year’s award went to Upper School history teacher Elissa Wolf-Tinsman, one of CA’s magnificent educators.

A recent article in the New York Times should give all Americans caution about the idea of going too far in turning teaching over to technology. To be sure, our students need do to know how to manage technology and master it. But, I am doubtful you can substitute the human component when it comes to inspiring and sustaining intellectual curiosity. I am so thankful for the work of our amazing faculty. They truly make the difference at CA.