September 21, 2017

Science, Bike Racing, Photography, Massage – He’s Done It All!

Kevin Nugent, in a 7th grade science lab class this week
One of the unique aspects of my job is that I get to spend part of most days on each of our campuses. Perhaps more than most of my colleagues, I am lucky enough to witness first hand all of the amazing learning happening at Friends in all four of our programs: preschool, elementary, middle school, and teacher preparation.

Many of you on our South Campus do not yet know Kevin Nugent, one of our middle school teachers.  His is a fascinating story to tell. Very few of our teachers have the following on their resumés: 

  • professional bike racer
  • massage therapist
  • professional photographer
  • HTML coder/web page designer
  • dermatology research assistant
  • science teacher
  • and stay-at-home dad!
All that, and last year Kevin won the Outstanding Teacher Award at the 2016 Front Range Regional Science Fair.

He presents annual workshops at GESTEM (Girls Exploring Science Technology Engineering and Math). One of his projects involves harvesting DNA from cheek cells, isolating it and creating DNA necklaces from pipettes! He has run botany/ecology-based camps for low income elementary and middle school students at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal wildlife refuge and has enjoyed being a Big Brother mentor to the same person for the last 23 years!

In addition to his full-time teaching work, Kevin has also taught at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where he created a professional development program for elementary teachers (funded by the Colorado School of Mines) on the neurologic benefits of integrating movement-based learning to improve classroom outcomes.

And now, for the second year, he is our middle school science and homeroom teacher.

With a resumé like his, Kevin came to teaching relatively late, in his late thirties.  An eleven-year veteran now, he is thrilled to be part of the pioneer teaching team at Friends middle school.

Every day, I see him with our middle school students and I appreciate how much he truly loves teaching this age group. He simply ‘gets’ their energy, thinking, humor, and individuality. He helps each of his students explore their passions while preparing them for the academic, social and emotional opportunities that lie ahead as they continue their journey beyond our classrooms. As their teacher, he sees each student, not only academically, but as a dynamic, perpetually changing and evolving person.

Kevin graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication. Since then he has followed what you might say is a non-linear vocational and personal path.

As an eager bike racer, Kevin endured being teased in middle and high school about his shaved legs and irregular tan lines! He went to the mountain biking world championships in Mammoth Mountain, California before switching to racing road bikes in college.  He did not turn professional initially in the hopes of competing at the Olympic trials.  He also fell in love with track racing.  Kevin still commutes on his bike to our north Boulder campus from his home in central Denver.  While he often combines his bike ride with the bus, he has been known to ride all the way home.  Just last school year alone, Kevin clocked 3,600 commuter miles getting to Friends middle school! No small feat!

Kevin’s students experience him as passionate, knowledgeable teacher who has boundless energy.  Kevin is dedicated to Friends, telling me that he is proud to be part of the team that originated our
new middle school program last year and he is thrilled to be continuing to help grow it this year. He is in love with our school philosophy of knowing and teaching to the whole child and he appreciates being given the flexibility to use his diverse background and expertise to cultivate individual relationships with each learner.

As well as an obviously keen cyclist, Kevin loves high altitude mountaineering, snowboarding, camping, chess, all things technology, learning to play the guitar, in-line skate racing, and photography (he still maintains his professional studio in Denver). 

He is an all-go kind of guy, and we’re fortunate to have his energy on our middle school team. 

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