A recurrent challenge at rural schools in the Four Corners region is teacher turnover. For many of these schools, Fort Lewis College’s Teacher Education graduates are filling this gap. Additionally, the cultural, social-emotional, and linguistic competency of Teacher Education graduates has had significant positive effects in the region’s rural classrooms.
To recognize these impactful Teacher Education graduates and professionals, the School of Education presented three individuals with a Southwest Rural Make A Difference Teacher Award at the third annual Teacher Network Symposium. David Quiroz (History, ’12) from Ignacio Middle School and Brittany Lang (Interdisciplinary Studies, ’11; M.A. Teacher Leadership, ’15) from Cortez Middle School received awards, as well as current Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Education graduate student and Silverton School teacher Megan Davenport.
“Today is a celebration of how the School of Education has promoted placing our teachers in jobs in the small rural schools in our region and how these teachers have changed the lives of youth in their communities,” said Dean Richard Fulton.
Quiroz has been working at Ignacio Middle School since his student teaching semester in fall of 2012. Will Camp, coordinator for field experiences for Teacher Education, introduced him as a non-traditional FLC student and now a non-traditional teacher that connects with his students through compassion and understanding.
“He has the ability to see them in their complexity of being and subjectivity,” Camp said.
"It’s the vision of these teachers we celebrate tonight, and it’s this capacity to see differently that we want to mark. It’s the kaleidoscopic capacity of every great teacher we want to identify and reinforce."
Will Camp, coordinator for field experiences for Teacher Education
Lang started teaching at Kemper Elementary and is now at Cortez Middle School. Fulton described her worldly roots and relationship building with youth as gifts to her students.
“Every day, she seems to push harder and find a new cause to fight for and new idea to implement,” Fulton said. “In the Fort Lewis College circles, we call these types of teachers lifers, dedicated from day one until they are crazy 60-some-year-old educators, still making waves in the system.”
Davenport has nearly completed her master’s degree in Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Education, and is currently teaching at Silverton School. Lorien Chambers Schuldt, assistant professor of Teacher Education, said Davenport takes her job seriously and cares deeply about her students.
“She’s someone who has really honed her craft and someone who thinks really precisely about what her students need to learn,” Chambers Schuldt said. “It’s her helping them grow into the kind of people we need in this world that is so inspiring.”
The three teachers were each awarded a $700 check. “None of this messing around with awards -- teachers need cash,” Fulton laughed. In addition to the cash award, the teachers were gifted bronze kaleidoscopes and kaleidoscope glasses.
“Brittany, Megan and David don’t really need these spectacles, of course. We sense they already see this way. The best teachers see this way all the time,” Camp said. “They see colors, they see depth, they see the jewel-like fracture and the rim-round world captured in a kaleidoscope. They see that the world in which they work is ever-changing, and is beautiful for all that changing. They would have the change, they would have the color, they would have the uncertainty of shifting perspective. It’s the vision of these teachers we celebrate tonight, and it’s this capacity to see differently that we want to mark. It’s the kaleidoscopic capacity of every great teacher we want to identify and reinforce.”
The symposium is an opportunity for current Teacher Education students to connect with regional school districts and learn more about scholarships and the available student teaching placements. From the stage, each of the awardees took time to recognize their mentors from the local schools and the Teacher Education Department, and encouraged the students to also go out and make a difference as an educator.
“Stick with it when it’s hard, and there are more hard days than you expect,” Lang said. “But I am who I am because of Fort Lewis and you’re in the right place.”