Flagstaff Academy says goodbye to two beloved teachers
May 26, 2016
The end of the school year comes with many transitions and in the case of Flagstaff Academy, Longmont’s public charter school, the students, staff, parents and alumni will be saying goodbye to two beloved and longstanding teachers, Timothy Baldwin and Lisa Wilkins, who are retiring from teaching.
Wilkins, one of the original middle school teachers since Flagstaff Academy added grades six through eight in 2007, has been contributing her extensive background in English and American history into the classroom, through an integrated approach that weaves literature together with context and background information. She sums up her educational philosophy in this way, “Mastering the material in Core Knowledge sequence does a great deal to help students be well prepared for high school.”
“Since she has been here, Wilkins has always provided a culminating language arts experience for our 8th graders to prepare them for high school and beyond,” Wayne Granger, Flagstaff’s executive director, said. “We know from parent feedback and the success of our alumni in high school that Lisa’s influence continues to be felt for years after they leave our building.”
In addition to her role as middle school language arts teacher, Wilkins is the supervising teacher for the Dragon Spectrum, the only student-run middle school newspaper in the St. Vrain Valley School District. This year, she guided the newspaper into the digital age, by going completely online.
Wilkins’ impact on her students goes far beyond the classroom in that she not only prepares them as writers and lovers of literature, but she’s instilled a highly creative and engaging classroom.
Middle school Assistant Principal Katie Gustafson shared her thoughts on Wilkins: “Mrs. Wilkins has been the heart and soul of the humanities team at Flagstaff Academy. She started teaching at Flagstaff when the school was much smaller and has seen the immense growth over the last decade. She develops lasting relationships with her students and alumni return all the time to connect with her.”
In her retirement, Wilkins will enjoy time with her family.
Five years ago, a legendary band and music teacher came out of retirement to accept a position at Flagstaff Academy. That person was Tim Baldwin, who after almost four decades of raising his baton and inspiring the love of music in his students, is retiring. Responsible for single-handedly building Flagstaff’s music program, Baldwin has grown the program to three levels of band, including an advanced band and jazz band.
“I love watching Mr. Baldwin in action!” Gustafson said. “His performances are superior when compared to other middle school programs. He is a master teacher who embodies all of the qualities of an expert musician. We have been so lucky to have had his influence at Flagstaff over the last five years. He’s leaving a legacy behind, including a fantastic jazz band and a new school fight song.”
This past year, the advanced band performed at the Colorado League of Charter School’s annual conference and was one of only two middle schools to participate in the SVVSD annual music and band district-wide festival.
“Tim has built a top-quality middle school band program in less than three years,” Granger said. “Due to scheduling, our entire band cannot be in class at the same time. Tim works with his individual classes, or instrument sections, independently throughout the semester,”
“The first time these students play together as a concert band is the rehearsal the day before a concert,” Granger continued “When you hear them perform together as a large 90-piece band you would never know. It is nothing short of magic.”
Baldwin spent 34 years teaching instrumental music in Iowa and Missouri before moving to Estes Park, Colorado. Before arriving at Flagstaff, he taught at Summit Middle School in Boulder and Shepherd Valley Waldorf School in Niwot. Prior to his retirement, Baldwin and his wife, Debbie, a drama teacher, spent their summers teaching drama camps in Missouri and Colorado. He also plays trombone, builds sets for plays and musicals, and enjoys hiking. He and his wife are relocating to Lawrence, Kansas, to start their new career as grandparents.
The entire Flagstaff Academy community extends its deep appreciation to Baldwin and Wilkins and wishes them all the best in the next part of their journeys.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Colorado League of Charter School’s 5/6 newsletter.