2014 Impact Award Recipients
2014 Impact Award Recipients
- Sarah Bennett – Douglass Elementary School, 1st Grade Teacher
- Shannon Burgert - Fireside Elementary School, 5th Grade Teacher
- Sennen Knauer – Broomfield Heights Middle School, Counselor
- Ned Levine - Crest View Elementary School, Principal
- Kyle Mathews - Peak to Peak High School, Principal
From the Peace Corps classrooms in Turkmenistan to the underprivileged classrooms of Harlem to the vibrant energy of Douglass Elementary, Sarah Bennett has brought every experience of her teaching career to her current first grade class. Her travels and teaching allows her to bring global ideas to her students. She says, “I try to provide exposure to cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic differences regularly. That means that I not only create a caring community within the classroom, but I try to help my students see outside of themselves.” Aiding her students in this task has become a project in holistic education. Her students have jobs, take brain breaks, learn individually, in pairs and as a whole. Sarah believes and knows that every student is unique and every learning style must be taken into consideration. And contrary to the belief that a teacher should never play favorites, she seeks the opposite truth. Her nominator and a parent of her current and former students says, “Every student secretly feels like they are her favorite and that she knows them better than they know themselves.” Knowing the individual student helps Sarah to engage learning and foster a foundation of education for life. A former student put it best to represent her years of teaching and encouraging her “little learners,” saying, “She made me realize that I am more than what I think I am.”
Shannon Burgert, a fifth grade teacher at Fireside Elementary, has accomplished much in her life, including a PhD in education, a successful arts integration workshop program, and safely facilitating the 95 people on an outdoor education trip trapped during September’s floods. But her greatest accomplishment is constantly bringing diversity and understanding to her classroom. As she says, “I believe that allowing multiple forms of expression not only enables students to better convey their knowledge, but it also deepens understanding.” As both a former third grade and current fifth grade teacher, Shannon seeks differences in culture, language and life in her teaching methods and students. As her nominator says, for Shannon, “Diversity is sanity.” Her many fun programs for her students also demonstrate her passion for learning. She helps students map out a goal for the year, throws a “matter” party with root beer floats using ice cream as the solid, root beer for the liquid and carbonation as the gas, and helps students stay ecologically mindful. She encourages growth in her students, peers and administrators. Her nominator says, “There’s a difference between meeting high standards and inspiring them. She does both.” Shannon continues to inspire and work toward high standards in her favorite role in life. “I believe that (for me, at least) teaching is the best job in the world. I have my dream job, and I count my lucky stars for it.”
A counselor’s job is to be comforting, helpful and understanding. Sennen Knauer goes beyond the call of duty in her role as counselor at Broomfield Heights Middle School. She is a beacon of light and positivity in her community in the way she greets, reassures and assists families and students. Her nominator says, “Whether she works with students on peer relationships or study habits, stress management or community building, family turmoil or academic goal setting, she empowers the students to take control and be in charge of their destiny.” She sees the importance of gaining independence in such a formative time as the middle school years. She also knows that by being a model of force, safety, listening, nurturing and understanding, she can make an impact on her community in the best way she knows how.
If this had been a normal year, with normal circumstances and normal school operations, Ned Levine still would have been a standout candidate through his many hats that he wears as Crest View Elementary principal. But it was not. It was a year that faced a flood, devastation to the surrounding community, and Crest View’s challenging fall semester. Ned Levine proved something his many nominators already knew: he is a strong leader with unyielding passion for his school. He knows the names of all of his 620 students. During his 15 years as principal, he has taken pride in his students’ successes, has supported them in their hard times, hangs out with them at lunch and has never stopped caring for their education and well-being. It was during September’s floods that his leadership and crisis management shone through. He lived out his own philosophy this fall. “Leadership takes courage, the ability to live with uncertainty and a nimble mind and attitude that is not afraid to change as driven by the situation,” he says. A fellow BVSD principal says, “He’s the one, no question, who knows his building the best and will be able to lead his community through the mud and the muck to the other side.” Even the superintendent, who was in constant communication during the storm, was aware of Ned’s ability to handle this frightening and difficult situation. “The restoration was a significant team effort and he provided leadership throughout. His commitment to the students, staff and the entire school community was impressive,” Dr. Messinger says. Ned could see that beyond the rains and the rough patch Crest View was experiencing, his school and community would arise stronger, closer, and more ready than ever to tackle the rest of the year. His nominator says, “He showed the entire community how to be courageous, optimistic, and strong in the face of enormous obstacles.” Something he continues to demonstrate in his life as Crest View principal.
As a high school principal, Kyle Mathews has never lost his energy or passion for the fun and learning school can provide. His nominator says, “Each day in our community, he proves to be a man of exceptional integrity, outside-the-box creativity, and a genuine champion of the jubilant teenage spirit.” He meets with every one of his 597 students to make sure they are being heard, being helped and are dreaming for things in the future. He supports his staff by pitching in where he can, whether it is cleaning up, substituting a first period class while a teacher rejuvenates or making meetings more fun with music and humor. In his words, “The best thing we can do with our experiences is pass them on, showcase our “goofs and blunders,” make ourselves vulnerable, be the energy that others need, throw ego out the window, and inspire healthy risks that make people grow.” He is willing to jump into any situation with a smile for the betterment of his students and to support the Peak to Peak community. He has gotten pies to the face, been duct taped to a wall, and shown off his dance moves to excite his staff and students and for charitable causes. Kyle understands that humor, hard work and passion for education are all requirements for a successful school year and enriching learning environment. He lives these ideals with fervor each time he arrives at school and exemplifies them in every interaction he has with students and staff alike.
2014 Impact Award Finalists
- Erika Arias – Teacher Librarian, Ryan Elementary School
- Lynn Jackson – 6th Grade Teacher, Eldorado K-8 School
- Nicole Kallsen – 1st Grade Teacher, Aspen Creek K-8 School
- Carol Kloeckner – Special Education Teacher, Broomfield High School
- Andy McCullough – Volunteer, Ryan Elementary School
Please join us on March 19th at The Boulder Theater when we applaud these outstanding educators.