Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Vicky Dorvee

New staff joins NHS at start of school year


August 25, 2017

Courtesy Photo Niwot High School welcomes several new staff members for the 2017-18 school year. (From left) Jeremy Lanter, math; Melissa Ghirardi, French; Daisha Agho, science; Zaneta Blalock, Spanish; Adam Strah, PE and health; Teresa Ewing, computer science; Eric Underwood, school resource officer; Sarah Demmel, social studies; Dawn Zwisler, special education; David Wrisley, ELL. Not pictured, Cathy Carter, math; Shirley Luo, Chinese; and Terry Ward, PE.

Editor’s note: This article highlights just one of the new teachers at Niwot High School. We hope to get more spotlights on great teachers over the coming weeks. If you know a teacher or staff/faculty member that deserves credit, email editorial@lhvc.com.

Sarah Demmel feels like she’s back home now that she and her family have returned to Niwot. After three years in Austin, TX where her husband’s job had relocated them, Demmel and her family are once again enjoying what this small town has to offer.

Demmel taught at Niwot High School for eight years in the social studies department. The same departmental staff she worked with when she left is still on board, making it easy to stay in touch and in the know while she was gone, and allowing it to be low stress to jump back in. Even the very same classroom she had earlier is once again hers. “It kind of feels like I never left,” Demmel said.

Boxes of the Demmels’ belongings still need to be unpacked, but a week after returning to Colorado, she and her three children are headed off to school. Ten-year-old Luke started fifth grade at Niwot Elementary School, 12-year-old Grace is in seventh grade at Sunset Middle School, and 14-year-old MacKenzie is a freshman at NHS and gets to see her mom in the hallways each day. Husband Jesse is working in technology at Sovrn Holdings in Boulder.

Demmel, who has her master’s degree from UNC in library science and an undergraduate degree in history from Iowa State, spent her last year at NHS as a part-time social studies teacher and a part-time librarian. This year, Demmel will be teaching full-time for the first quarter. Her classes include teaching 10th-grade U.S. history and job sharing in an advanced placement psychology class. Following this quarter, the plan is for her to be teaching half time.

Teaching the U.S. constitution this year will be especially interesting Demmel said. “I make it clear right away that it’s good we all have different opinions and views, otherwise it would be boring. So we all have to be respectful to each other.”

The draw toward education runs through her blood it seems. Her dad has been a teacher and a football coach in her home state of Nebraska for nearly 40 years. One of her sisters is a teacher in Nebraska and another sister teaches in Broomfield. Knowing living in Austin would be a short term gig, Demmel still kept active in the profession by teaching preschool.

When asked what her teaching style is, Demmel said, “I’m very open-minded and hands-on.” She finds students learn best and retain more from simulations, conducting discussions, and being interactive. In Demmel’s classes, textbooks are great resources, but they are just a jumping off point for a deeper understanding of the subject.

When she’s not teaching, Demmel’s interests take her and her family to the great outdoors, whether it’s hiking, skiing or triathlons, with the whole family participating in some races. She can also be found enjoying movies, reading, and traveling worldwide.

Why come back to Niwot High School? “NHS is unique because of the student energy and school spirit,” she said. The high volume of community and parental involvement at the school add to why Demmel finds NHS special. “Once you’re a Cougar, you’re always a Cougar,” Demmel said.


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