3rd Grade Crew Teacher
Meet Ms. Rachel!
So many times growing up our dreams of what we “want to be when we grow up” changes and shifts with the tide, but for first-year teacher, Ms. Rachel, she always knew that she would one day become a teacher. Renaissance is extremely fortunate to be the very first school for Rachel to teach at and what a fantastic fit it has been for Rachel’s talents and passions, and the needs of the REMS community!
If you have spent time with Rachel, you know that mountain adventures are everything to her which could be because she is a Colorado native raised with a deep love and gratitude for nature. Rachel was born in Montrose, Colorado, and spent her first eight years exploring the mountains with her family, her mom and dad, and her two sisters. While Rachel’s dad moved the family to Texas during grade school through high school, Rachel’s family always made their way back to Colorado to ski and enjoy the mountains throughout the year on their family vacations. “Hiking and skiing was always a big part of growing up; I learned to ski in Telluride!” Rachel has always considered Colorado “home” and after having spent four years and graduating college from Benedictine College in Kansas, she knew she wanted to make it back home to Colorado. Rachel’s family moved to Telluride while her older sister moved to Denver. “After college when I was looking for jobs anywhere in Colorado, practicality wise I liked that Castle Rock was closer to my older sister in Denver. I’m not really a city person but Castle Rock was close enough to the city while being close enough to head to the mountains for a hike!”
Rachel grew up in a family full of teachers- mom, grandmas and aunts, and cousins! “I grew up seeing what teachers did and loved the idea of helping others; I always saw myself doing this. During my senior year in high school, I got to do a practicum where I spent time in a third-grade classroom observing and even teaching, and that experience really solidified that becoming a teacher was for me! No matter when I wanted to be other things, I always came back to teaching.” In college, Rachel spent time working at various outdoor education camps, the Telluride Academy, and the Catholic Youth Expeditions in Wisconsin. Rachel spent time away from school always hiking, camping, and kayaking, so when Rachel was looking for a job out in Colorado and stumbled upon Renaissance, she was immediately drawn to Castle Rock. “When I read more about Renaissance it was like a dream come to life … this is my school! At that point it didn’t matter where Renaissance was, this was the place for me.” Having had so much experience teaching outdoor education programs during college, the Outward Bound component of Renaissance was a perfect fit for Rachel. Rachel flew out to Denver over her senior year spring break and was hooked. “Renaissance was unlike any other school I had ever visited. I talked to Deborah for a few minutes and she then encouraged me to go out and talk with students and teachers and to sit in classrooms and observe. It was absolutely eye-opening learning about the community that REMS had. There was art everywhere in the school and I could see that Renaissance was a place where kids had big ideas and were allowed to run with them! Even though the Adventure Education program was the initial draw to the school, the mission of the school and the community solidified my decision to move here and teach at Renaissance.”
As anyone who has been new to a profession knows, surrounding yourself with colleagues who you can learn from is invaluable. “Something I love about Renaissance is the fact that there are so many people to learn from. Each person in the building has their own style and Deborah allows people the freedom to run with that! The motto that has been shown to me has always been to try something and if it doesn’t work, try something else. Deborah wants us to find our groove and the school supports us in that!” Our Adventure Education program drew Rachel into the REMS community and the program has lived up to her hopes and expectations. “The Adventure Ed program is not only fun, but when you can take what you’ve been learning in the classroom and apply that learning in a new experience in nature and then bring those experiences back into the classroom, that’s something really unique! It is awesome to see how REMS has brought to life what I researched about Adventure Ed in college.”
Rachel spends her day at Renaissance excelling as a fifth-grade teacher. Her favorite aspects of her day were always working on community building with her students in a variety of ways. “For our morning meetings, I really enjoyed getting the kids outside and either playing games or doing team-building activities together. It was always a great way to wake up and start the day and on those days when time and weather helped us get outside it always felt special.” Rachel also spent time focusing on getting to know students on a more individual level by doing a lunch bunch where she’d invite a student and one or two of their friends. “I’m really bummed that I wasn't able to do that with all of my students but for those who I was able to do it with it was so much fun and I learned so much about them during lunch, it was a great way to get to know them better!” While remote learning has curbed the traditions and rituals her crew had built this year they’ve still been maintaining the community building by having morning meetings and read-alouds together along with small group and one-on-one meetings.
Outside of school you can often find Ms. Rachel enjoying the great outdoors on a hike, a ski slope, or just out for a walk. Rachel values time with family and friends and her dog, Telluride, or “T-Ride”. A fun fact about Rachel is that she has never drunk a caffeinated soda! “I had so much energy when I was little so my parents wouldn’t let me!” In case you’re wondering, Sprite and Root Beer are her “go-to” drinks!
We are so thankful that Ms. Rachel landed here at Renaissance to grow roots into our community and to enrich our students with her love for adventure education! We are excited for what the future holds for Ms. Rachel and her career at REMS!