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The Good Apples


I’ve seen a lot in my nearly 31 years of life. As a reporter, you end up being a witness to a lot of crazy stuff. I’ve watched undocumented immigrants being pulled onto buses as their families watched, tears streaming down their dusty cheeks and fingered curled around the chain link fence that held them back. I’ve been the recipient of jailhouse confessions—exhibitions of remorse, regret and fear—and the observer of the slow, uninhibited weeping from a new widow.

I’ve seen crazy, I’ve seen sorrow, I’ve seen joy.

It’s hard to surprise me. But the moments that most amaze me most these days are exhibitions of true humanity: nobility, integrity, justice and un-judging love for others.

These qualities were never more present than while interviewing the teachers profiled in this edition. Education is so often muddled with bureaucracy, policy, politics and issues (oh Lord, so many issues). It’s too often the subject of commentary by pundits, journalists and politicians who haven’t actually set foot in a classroom since Grover Cleveland was in office, who haven’t had the pleasure of sitting down and simply talking to teachers or  administrators, who haven’t even tried to find the bright spots in the educational landscape. And who spend their time focusing on situations that show blemishes in the public education system.

I’ve been the covering education in Colorado for years, and I can say that for all the bad, there is so much good. In the pages that follow, you’ll meet six shining examples of what is right with education. They are smart—so smart—passionate, inspired, focused and just plan cool.

Liz Sims recently gave one of her kidneys to the father of two of her former students. Andre Adeli gave up a lucrative career as an attorney to develop a dynamic, unique high school for students who don’t fit into a traditional school.

They are not just great teachers. They are fabulous people. They literally amazed me. They made me laugh, made me cry, and shocked me with their integrity, honesty, compassion and altruism.

These teachers—and many like them—offer today’s students a tremendous education as well as an appropriate support system. They treat their students with respect, they challenge them and they instill a love of learning within them.

And in some cases, these teachers will do it all with 30 to 40 students in their classrooms at a time. Their classes are often hijacked by standardized testing and legislative mandates. They are challenged with tiny budgets and old equipment. I asked one of our smart teachers about the upcoming changes to Colorado academic standards. She shrugged. It’s just part of the job, she says. What makes it all the more difficult is that she’ll probably have 45 students in one of her classes this year, and a good number of those will be English as a Second Language and special needs students.

“It can be difficult to give students a good education at that point,” she said.

But she’ll do it, and she’ll love every minute of it.

It’s issues like these that shock in a good way. The world is not so scary. It’s not all crazy. There are teachers out there making sure of it.


email no info send march17th/09

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