May 17, 2012

From a Job as a Server to a Career in Service

Friends' Teacher Candidate Tyler Voorhees
A little over a year ago, Friends' School parent Aarin Holmes was at Turley’s Restaurant in Boulder treating her family to dinner.  She was impressed by the waiter, a charming young man who interacted so easily and naturally with her five year old daughters.  This guy was great with kids and Aarin, a former teacher, knew she had to encourage him to get into teaching.  She gave the waiter information about the Friends' School Teacher Preparation Program (TPP).  
For the waiter, Tyler Voorhees, it has been quite a year.  In the fall he got married to his beautiful bride Ashley, he has had his remarkable paintings accepted into judged art shows, he has moved to a new house in Lyons, he is about to graduate from the TPP with a Colorado Teaching License, he is half way through a Masters degree via Friends’ partnership with the University of Colorado Denver, he has just accepted his first permanent teaching job at Bixby School teaching science starting in the fall, and he has spent a year co-teaching and building great relationships with our 2nd graders here at Friends’.

As Tyler and I were standing together last week watching our elementary school’s amazing Talent Show, he asked me if he could have a few inches of space in this column in which to share with you some of his reflections on his year as a Teacher Candidate.  What follows are Tyler’s own words….

Every Friday, our very own Friends’ Preschool is transformed into an institution of higher learning.  Twenty nine Teacher Candidates (TCs), who have been co-teaching all week in schools that range from Lafayette Elementary to Boulder Country Day, gather cozily into the preschool building to reflect on their week and to broaden their abilities as educators and to refocus their philosophy on what education should be for our children.
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of this amazing professional learning community and have experienced firsthand how powerful and inspiring it can be.  We laugh a lot, we vent to each other, and we grow together as budding educators enrolled in one of the most forward-thinking teacher preparation programs out there.  Each week brings a new focus and a new round of presenters.  Topics range from child development to classroom management and student engagement.  The speakers all bring their own unique experiences and wealth of knowledge, which spark deep conversations and give us new methods to try on for size the following week.  It’s an incredibly efficient way to learn how to be an effective teacher. 
I am fortunate in that I was given the opportunity to hone my craft at Friends’ School with a marvelous mentor teacher, Jenn Shouse.  Her plethora of experience and willingness to adapt our curriculum to the students’ individual needs has taught me more than I can convey in this space.  She has inspired me to never stop learning and has shown me what it takes to be a champion teacher.

As I look back at my year at Friends’, I am filled with gratitude for the incredible community of parents, who, without hesitation, welcomed the TCs into the lives of their children, and for the astoundingly supportive Friends’ staff who helped us feel like an integral part of the teaching team. The TCs at Friends’ are gradually given the responsibility of holding the reins of learning alongside their mentor, dually guiding the students to grow their hearts and brains. There is an incredibly gifted group of lead teachers at Friends’ and it is because of this all-star cast of educators that the TCs at this school are able to grow as teachers by leaps and bounds.

This wonderful school should be proud of the progress that is being cultivated every week in the classroom.  It is a truly blessed experience not only for the gifted students who we are lucky enough to teach, but also for the Teacher Candidates who get the rare opportunity to learn the craft from the best in the profession.  For that, I will always be grateful and will never forget my year at Friends’.
                                                                                      -Tyler Voorhees

And Friends’ School is thankful for the seven remarkable Teacher Candidates who have taught our children and touched our hearts this year at Friends’. If we had job openings for all of them, we would have hired them all!  Thank you to Megan Todd-Thompson (PS & PK), Caroline Long (K), Yasamin Holland (1st), Tyler Voorhees (2nd), Wayne Daniels (3rd), Allie Graft (4th), and Rachel Leber (5th). The teaching profession is lucky to have you.  You are going to change lives.

And next time you’re out to dinner, pay attention to who is bringing your bread rolls.  You never know who you will find.

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