Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Niwot High School welcomes new teachers and staff

 

September 10, 2016

Photo Courtesy of NHS Front Row, L to R: Kelly Christensen, Stephen Dimit, Laura Marshall, Colleen Ford, Michelle Rickley. Second Row, L to R: Jared Fox, Steve Tobin. Back Row, L to R: Jason Kelsall, Brandon Schawel, Casey Vavrina, Dylan Wittstruck. Not pictured: Lukas Knapton and Annie Chang.

The Left Hand Valley Courier talked with new staff and teachers at Niwot High School to find out why they love teaching and what they’re looking forward to this school year.

Kelly Christensen

School Counselor, Head Cross Country Coach, Assistant Track Coach

Education and Experience: Three years school counseling, previously at Palmer Ridge High School, Monument Colorado.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? It’s all new for me this year, so everything!

What is your favorite thing about teaching? Having the opportunity to help people.

Jen Darmafall

Attendance Clerk

Education and Experience: Bachelor of Science in recreational therapy.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? I’m excited about meeting new people and being part of an awesome school family. Go Cougars!!

Stephen Dimit

English Teacher, Head Men’s and Women’s Soccer Coach

Education and Experience: B.A. English, Colorado State University; M.Ed. educational and counseling psychology, University of Missouri. Past eight years teaching and coaching at Vista Ridge High School in Colorado Springs.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? The school community has the most positive energy, and every colleague and student has been very welcoming. It’s great to be able to teach and coach at a school that is dedicated to excellence!

What is your favorite thing about teaching? The best part of teaching is opening up students’ minds to a bigger world that they are becoming a part of. Seeing them become engaged in the world around them is the most rewarding part of the job.

Jared Fox

Math Teacher

Education and Experience: This will be my third year teaching high school mathematics. I earned my secondary education degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and just moved from Wisconsin a month ago after living there all my life.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? It’s an exciting time to get to know a new group of colleagues, as well as building relationships with the 150+ students that I will teach this year. Niwot is a special school for the students and an amazing place to be an employee.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? Creating relationships with the students, and helping them grow mathematically/socially.

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers? Bears > Broncos!

Sarah Hollingsworth

Registrar/Counseling Assistant

Education and Experience: I worked at Northridge Elementary last year. It’s my second year in a school as well.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? My husband Dylan is a teacher and coach here at NHS, my son Jeremy is a sophomore here at NHS, I am super excited to officially be a part of the NHS team!

Lukas Knapton

Physical Education

Education and Experience: First year teaching. Attended University of Wyoming and Colorado Mesa University.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? Most excited about having my own classes and starting my teaching career.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? My favorite thing about teaching is no day is ever the same, and having the chance to impact young adult lives.

Laura Marshall

Vocal Music Director

Education and Experience: Bachelor’s of Arts in music and Bachelor’s of Arts in business from Muskingum University in New Concord, OH; Masters of Music and teacher license at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? I have been teaching high school choir and elementary music for the past few years. I am thrilled to be in one building and be able to focus on my passion of teaching choir to high school students. I am excited to meet all of my students and be able to do so much more with more choirs.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? Music has always been my passion, and I love sharing that passion with my students. Being in choir gives students the opportunity to create connections not only with each other but with an audience as they perform. Those connections I make with my students last forever and make teaching amazing.

Michelle Rickley

Math Teacher

Education and Experience: University of Vermont, B.S. in secondary education with a concentration in mathematics.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? I am thrilled to join the Niwot family and implement iPads for the first time in the classroom.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? Making connections with students and building long-lasting relationships.

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers? Go Cougars!

Brandon Schawel

Art Teacher

Education and Experience: Worked as graduate teaching assistant, paraprofessional, resident teacher, elementary classroom teacher, college adjunct art faculty. Earned a M.A. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Denver, and a M.A. in studio art from Eastern Illinois University.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? Most excited to teach in a content area I am very passionate about. Looking forward to working with our hard working and talented students.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? I enjoy sharing and learning ideas in such a rich academic environment.

Steve Tobin

Math Teacher

Education and Experience: Twenty-four years of teaching in the south suburbs of Chicago. B.S. from University of Illinois (Urbana), M.S. University of Illinois (Chicago), M.A. Governor’s State University.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? Working with new people, challenging myself, growing as a teacher.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? Seeing that “aha” moment when a student breaks through that barrier and understands something that didn’t make sense before.

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers? I’m very excited about being here at Niwot HS and look forward to a great year!

Casey Vavrina

Spanish Teacher

Education and Experience: Teaching degree from University of Nebraska; Master’s of Arts in Spanish.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? I am most excited about working with excellent students.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? My favorite thing about teaching is interacting with my students.

Annie Wang

Chinese teacher

Education and Experience: I started to teach in 1998. I got a master’s degree, “Master of Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages,” in 2011.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? I am most excited that I can meet new coworkers and new students, and know more about the American school education.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? My favorite thing about teaching is that my kids enjoy learning Chinese language itself and Chinese culture.

Anything else you’d like to say to readers: I hope more American people know more [about] Chinese culture. That is also my mission in America.

Dylan Wittstruck

Math Teacher

Education and Experience: One year at CSU, graduated from UNC (Go Bears!).

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? Getting to know my students and fellow staff members.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? I like that every day is different, exciting and challenging.

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers: Everything is awesome! Especially learning and Star Wars and mathematics.

Colleen Ford

Physics and Chemistry Teacher

Education and Experience: I graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in biology with a pre-medicine emphasis. After graduating I decided to enter the teaching field and received my teaching certificate through an alternate program with Maricopa Community Colleges. I have taught for six years in Yuma, Arizona and Prescott, Arizona. I am currently working on my masters in educational leadership with a principal license with the University of Northern Colorado. I have taught biology, anatomy/physiology, chemistry, advanced placement (AP) chemistry and physics.

What are you most excited about with a new school and a new year? I grew up in Longmont and graduated from Niwot HS. I’m going to be coaching girls volleyball and basketball this year, and I’m looking forward to giving back to the community that supported me and made me who I am today.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? My favorite part of teaching is the “light bulb” moment. That is when a student understands a topic after struggling with it, putting in the time to understand it, and practicing it until the connection is made.

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers? I’m looking forward to getting to know and educating the students of the Niwot community! Thank you.

 

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