2024 Impact Awards honor dedicated BVSD educators

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We host the Impact Awards each year to honor educators across the Boulder Valley School District. Recognizing their dedication is essential, as they play a vital role in providing excellent and equitable education to students.

While we’re only able to recognize a small number of BVSD educators at the Impact Awards, we value and appreciate the hard work and dedication of every educator across BVSD.

This year’s celebration was held on Thursday, May 2 at the Boulder JCC. The energy at the event was palpable and it was a memorable occasion for all of our honorees and award winners. This year we were honored to have the event emceed by Dr. Lora de la Cruz, Deputy Superintendent of BVSD, with special remarks by Dr. Rob Anderson, BVSD Superintendent.

Thank you to our wonderful volunteers who make the evening go so smoothly and to our generous sponsors – Premier Members Credit Union, BVEA, Comcast, Corden Pharma and the Daily Camera – who make this event possible.

School Honorees

Since 1993, the Impact Awards has recognized hundreds of educators – teachers, custodians, office managers, food service employees, crossing guards, and more – from each school across BVSD. Each school across the district selects an honoree for the event, someone who is going above and beyond and making an extraordinary impact on student learning.

Each honoree received an engraved award, a personalized poster and a $100 check (thank you sponsors!). You can meet all of this year’s honorees in the graphics below.

New Teacher Award

The 2024 Imogene Maxon New Teacher Award was presented to Ash Mattys, an English Language Arts teacher at Fairview High School.

Established in 2020, the award is given to educators with up to three years of classroom experience who demonstrate the drive, stamina, and vision of a career educator. This award is inspired and financially supported by Jean Maxon, a lifetime educator who left a legacy gift to Impact on Education and whose own legacy extends beyond the BVSD classroom. We’re fortunate to have wonderful educators joining the profession, many of whom embody the characteristics and traits of a lifelong educator.

The nominator of this year’s winner — her induction mentor Chris Barnes — shared that she is approachable and real, a player and a coach, and life-affecting. He said “when you’re in Ash’s class, one is quick to forget that we’re in an English class. If you don’t keep an eye open, you’ll swear you’re in an after-school student club, self-help seminar, college literary society, and journalistic roundtable all rolled into one. Ash asks her students to think boldly and to act boldly, like she does. I’m honored and proud to teach with her.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

The 2024 Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Sara McIntosh, a literacy interventionist at Emerald Elementary School.

Established in 2017, the Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award honors the legacy of one of our most fervent supporters, Blake Peterson. This award recognizes and celebrates an individual who, consistently over the course of decades, catalyzes positive change within Boulder Valley School District, and whose own passion for education and learning mirrors that of the award’s namesake. This award is financially supported and selected by the Peterson family.

One of the nominators of this year’s winner shared that “she is a voice and support for the many children in our school who too often slip through the cracks because of lack of home support, resources, or other reasons beyond their control.”

BEFORE YOU GO …

Impact on Education is an independent non-profit supporting the Boulder Valley School District. We depend on the support of our community to put our mission into action. Will you help us provide opportunities and resources to students across the Boulder Valley School District?

Emerald Elementary’s Sara McIntosh honored with the 2024 Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award

By Alison Meyer

There is a pivotal point in a child’s education when they stop learning to read and start reading to learn. As a literacy interventionist at Emerald Elementary School, Sara McIntosh is deeply invested in this crucial juncture. So much so that she’s dedicated her life to making sure all children grow up to be confident readers. 

“When a person can read to learn, they become consumers of information, informed citizens, and can access any type of information they want,” shared McIntosh. “It’s incredibly empowering.”

A legacy of learning

Raised in a family of educators — her mom was a preschool, kindergarten and first-grade teacher, and her dad was a social studies teacher and football coach — McIntosh learned the value of education early on. “When I was in school, my mom worked part-time as a teacher and was also the puppet lady,” McIntosh recalled. “She would make and sew all of her own puppets, write scripts and perform at all the elementary schools. She made learning fun. Because of her, I fell in love with reading in school.”

“When a person can read to learn, they become consumers of information, informed citizens, and can access any type of information they want.”

Like her parents, McIntosh became a teacher, dedicating 30 years of service to the Boulder Valley School District. Four years ago, she moved to supporting literacy efforts, providing targeted, specific instruction to small groups of children struggling with reading. Lighting up when she talks about her work, McIntosh sees reading as a tool for equity.

“My life’s mission is empowering others, particularly children who are still learning how to find their own way in the world,” she said. “Reading helps them find their voice. They can’t be truly independent if they can’t confidently read.”

This video about Sara was produced by students in the Boulder TEC Video Production Program.

Impacting a generation of learners

At a young age, children learn to read by being taught the patterns and rules so they can break the code. By second or third grade, they need a strong foundation to transition to reading to learn. Interventionists like McIntosh play a crucial role in ensuring young readers who struggle get on track before they fall too far behind. McIntosh, who goes above and beyond for her students, was recently awarded the 2024 Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Fellow interventionist and nominator Jamie Smith shared, “Sara takes her role as title literacy interventionist very seriously. She is a voice and support for the many children in our school who too often slip through the cracks because of a lack of home support, resources or other reasons beyond their control. If a student is in need, she will go out of her way to advocate for resources or time for them.”

“[Sara] is a voice and support for the many children in our school who too often slip through the cracks because of a lack of home support, resources or other reasons beyond their control.”

Established in 2017, the Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award honors the legacy of one of Impact on Education’s most fervent supporters, Blake Peterson. This award recognizes and celebrates an individual who consistently catalyzes positive change within Boulder Valley School District over the course of decades and whose passion for education and learning mirrors that of the award’s namesake.

Blake, who deeply valued education and devoted his life to community service and supporting quality public education for all students, was also raised by teachers. McIntosh said by winning this award, she hopes to pay tribute to Blake’s parents. “I am so grateful that I had the upbringing that I had with parents as teachers, and so I want to honor Blake’s memory and his parents’ work,” shared McIntosh.

Above: Sara McIntosh (left) with one of her nominators and fellow educators Jamie Smith (right).

BEFORE YOU GO …

Impact on Education is an independent non-profit supporting the Boulder Valley School District. We depend on the support of our community to put our mission into action. Will you help us provide opportunities and resources to students across the Boulder Valley School District?

Fairview High School’s Ash Mattys receives Imogene Maxon New Teacher Award

By Alison Meyer

Ash Mattys took the road less traveled, and it has made all the difference. 

Unlike most first-year teachers who join the profession directly after college, Mattys delayed getting her degree so she could see the world instead. While her peers moved into dorms, Mattys worked in corporate America, saving enough money to travel. Over the next sixteen years, she had many adventures, including living in Japan for six months and adopting eighteen freshwater stingrays. She also became a mom, leading her to decide she was ready to hunker down and get her degree. 

Mattys enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder, majoring in Communication. While figuring out her next steps in life, Mattys kept returning to her beloved 8th-grade teacher, Ms. Cardin. “She spoke to me like the budding human being I was at the time,” recalled Mattys. “She made me feel interesting. She saw me, and was passionate about connecting with me so that she could teach me.

It’s hard to think of anything more inspiring than how much she valued my education and the education of her countless other students.” Mattys realized she could play the same role for young people as Ms Cardin did for her, and from that point on, teaching became the goal. She enrolled in graduate school, earned her master’s in education, and was hired as an English teacher at Fairview High School.

Ash Mattys with her family

Ash Mattys with her family.

“Two roads diverged in a wood”

While it took her longer to become a teacher, Mattys believes every part of her journey was critical to her success. “All those steps were necessary — now I feel like the luckiest teacher of all time.” Her students are 9th and 10th-grade pre-IB students learning Shakespeare. But Mattys, inspired by Ms. Cardin, sees her job as more than teaching language arts. She’s there to ensure her students feel seen. “What I needed when I was their age was for someone to tell me that it was going to be okay,” shared Mattys. “I want them to know that I see their uniqueness and remind them that they are resilient. I feel like that’s the unwritten curriculum.” 

“I want them to know that I see their uniqueness and remind them that they are resilient. I feel like that’s the unwritten curriculum.”

Ash Mattys, English Language Arts teacher at Fairview High School

According to her mentor, fellow teacher and nominator Chris Barnes, Mattys is succeeding. “When you’re in Ash’s class, it’s easy to forget that you’re in an English class,” said Barnes.  “If you don’t keep an eye open, you’ll swear you’re in an after-school student club, self-help seminar, college literary society, and journalistic roundtable all rolled into one. Ash’s class is that special. Students are that valued. The flow of instruction and student participation is seamless. And the atmosphere is one in which you feel lucky to belong.”

Winning the Imogene Maxon New Teacher Award is especially validating for Mattys because she doesn’t feel like she fits the norm, both as a nontraditional first-year teacher and as an educator of color. “This honor means so much to me because I’ve had to do some difficult navigating, within myself and with others, to get here,” she shared.” There were so many points along this journey when I felt like this profession wasn’t for people like me and I felt like giving up. Somehow, I actually got here and I’m doing my dream job. I’m so grateful.” 

“I dwell in possibility” 

Not one to be satisfied with the status quo, Mattys has goals for the rest of her education career. She looks forward to perfecting her craft as a classroom manager and content deliverer. Mattys also wants to see more students of color in advanced classes. “I think it’s powerful that I am an educator of color, and students can envision themselves in my shoes,” said Mattys.

“I’d like to see the percentage of students of color in the school reflected in advanced classes, where we currently have a disparity.” She also co-leads Families and Educators Together, a group that creates a more inclusive community to support the well-being of all students and families, especially parents and guardians from underrepresented groups. 

“Ash’s class is that special. Students are that valued. The flow of instruction and student participation is seamless. And the atmosphere is one in which you feel lucky to belong.”

Chris Barnes, BVSD Induction Mentor

Barnes isn’t surprised Mattys is so future-focused. “Ash is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. Check that—she’s a hurricane of cleansing, rejuvenation and complete upending of all arcane models and notions of what makes an English teacher.”

Congratulations to Ash Mattys for winning the 2024 Imogene Maxon Early Educator Award.

About Imogene Maxon

Imogene Maxon was a lifelong educator who taught with the Boulder Valley School District. In 2020, Impact on Education received a bequest from her estate, creating the Imogene “Jean” Maxon New Teacher Award in her honor. Imogene believed strongly in the impact of teachers who spend a lifetime honing instruction and learning practices and positively impacting countless students within the classroom.

BEFORE YOU GO …

Impact on Education is an independent non-profit supporting the Boulder Valley School District. We depend on the support of our community to put our mission into action. Will you help us provide opportunities and resources to students across the Boulder Valley School District?

Celebrating 40 Years of Impact

We can’t get Journey’s “Any Way You Want It” out of our heads! Last week’s gala was an incredible way to commemorate our 40th Anniversary and engage the community in support of public education.

From the game show and remarks from Governor Polis to our wonderful speakers and the 5280s Band, the evening reminded us how important – and fun! – it is to celebrate success. 

Together we raised over $400,000 to continue engaging students and empowering educators across the Boulder Valley School District.

Click here to view more photos from the event.

OUR PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

Were you unable to attend? Watch this new video to learn a little more about how Impact on Education came to be and where we’re headed.

We’re grateful to have a strong community behind us. It’s because of you that we’re able to help BVSD students receive an excellent and equitable education. We all shine brighter together.

Thank you for being part of our work!

BEFORE YOU GO …

Impact on Education is an independent non-profit supporting the Boulder Valley School District. We depend on the support of our community to put our mission into action. Will you help us provide opportunities and resources to students across the Boulder Valley School District?

Behind the Scenes at the 2023 Impact Awards

Yesterday we held our 30th Annual Impact Awards celebration! This event honors an educator from each school in the Boulder Valley School District, and awards both an early career educator and longtime educator with individual awards.

The energy of our dedicated educators was incredible and the evening was a great success! We were honored to have the event emceed by Dr. Lora de la Cruz, Deputy Superintendent of BVSD, with special remarks by Dr. Rob Anderson, BVSD Superintendent.

This event was generously sponsored by BVEA, Premier Members Credit Union, Google, Corden Pharma, The Daily Camera and Lionsgate Event Center.

Browse some event photos or keep reading to hear about the evening.

56 School Honorees

Since 1993, the Impact Awards has recognized hundreds of educators – teachers, custodians, office managers, food service employees, crossing guards, and more – from each school across BVSD. Each school across the district selects an honoree for the event, someone who is going above and beyond and making an extraordinary impact on student learning.

Each honoree received an engraved award, a personalized poster and a $100 check (thank you sponsors!). You can meet all of this year’s honorees in the graphics below.

Early Educator Award

The 2023 Imogene Maxon Early Educator Award was presented to Sue Crowley, a fourth grade teacher at Alicia Sanchez Elementary.

Sue elevates each of her students to be more, achieve more, believe more, and do more than they previously thought possible.

Her nominator shared that, “in her first year of teaching, Sue already embodies the gold standard as an educator. While her 4th grade has a demographic and student population of varying backgrounds, opportunities, and advantages, Sue is exemplary at weaving in both academic instruction and social and emotional development.”

2023 Imogene Maxon Early Educator Award winner Sue Crowley and Dr. James Hill, BVSD

This award is financially supported by a legacy gift from Imogene Maxon.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The 2023 Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award winner was Glen Einrem, a special education paraeducator at Monarch High School.

Glen is skilled at providing strong boundaries with students while also developing a loving and supportive relationship that they can rely on throughout high school and beyond. He demonstrates the heart of teaching every day.

As a paraprofessional of over 25 years, Glen has made a lasting and significant impact on the classroom, and a positive difference in the lives of hundreds of students. Glen has a gifted and profound way of interacting with and motivating students with emotional or behavioral differences. Education was not Glen’s first career. It was actually his third. Learn more >>

2023 Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award winner Glen Einrem.

This award is financially supported and selected by the Peterson family.

The importance of educator appreciation

When we use the word educator, we’re referring to classroom teachers, school employees, paraeducators, parent volunteers — anyone whose work engages and enriches the lives of our students. Recognizing these impactful individuals matters as it supports, validates, and encourages our educators to continue doing what they do best. It can also strengthen their commitment and the overall culture of their school. 

While we’re only able to recognize a small number of BVSD educators at the Impact Awards, we celebrate the hard work and dedication of each educator across BVSD throughout the year.

BEFORE YOU GO …

Impact on Education is a nonprofit organization, and we depend on our community to help us put our mission into action. We need your help to to provide opportunity and resources to 29,000 students and 4,000 educators in the Boulder Valley School District.

Monarch paraeducator Glen Einrem received 2023 Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award

Time in the restaurant industry taught Glen patience, communication crucial to his job

By Shay Castle

Education was not Glen Einrem’s first career. It was actually his third. 

Prior to joining Boulder Valley School District, Einrem worked as a structural engineer. Before that, he spent 18 years in the restaurant industry, doing everything from washing dishes to managing a regional team. 

That time working in restaurants is the most valuable when it comes to his work as one of Monarch High School’s special education paraprofessionals, Einrem said.

“A lot of that translates into what we do at school: face to face interactions dealing with upset people, learning how to talk to them, learning to let things roll off your shoulder,” he said. “You see everything and you’re dealing with everything.”

Dealing with dozens of frustrated customers, Einrem learned that, “they’re not attacking you for being you; they were being angry at the situation. Once you realize that, it kind of frees you to just be there, not take it personally, not have too many ups and downs and be a steady ship going through.”

That grace under pressure has earned Einrem a reputation as a calm, caring presence in the classroom.

He “makes a difference by being kind,” student Isaac C. wrote in support of Einrem’s nomination for this year’s Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award.

“He stops us from being disruptive without seeming mean,” wrote Zoe D.

His students also love the way he connects with them on their level. As Viktor G. put it: “Glen is amazing because he just talks ‘Student.’”

“He breaks down things in a way that I can understand” them, wrote Cole B. 

“Glen carried me through this class,” added Libby B.

Einrem credits his “wide variety of interests” with being able to talk to students “on their level.” 

“I do a lot of gaming with my son; I can talk games to them,” he said. “If they want to talk history and engineering and science, I’m a big buff on all of those. I think my speciality is actually conversation and talking and making kids feel comfortable with themselves.”

That vast knowledge base has also earned him a reputation among his peers. 

“We jokingly refer to Glen at work as ‘Glengle’ — our version of Google,” wrote colleague Ally Hall, in her nomination letter.

For Einrem, his favorite part about the job goes beyond connection and communication and knowledge sharing. It’s helping a child understand that there is a wider world out there.

“So much of high school is in the moment. And everything is OMG,” he said. “But if you can get to them and say, ‘Look, people have gone through this hundreds of times, and you can get through it, and things do get better.”

“That’s the most rewarding thing for me: seeing they can go on and do things and be successful.”

BEFORE YOU GO …

Impact on Education is a nonprofit organization, and we depend on our community to help us put our mission into action. We need your help to to provide opportunity and resources to 29,000 students and 4,000 educators in the Boulder Valley School District.

Working together to support BVSD schools

We hosted a Parent Partnership Summit last week and were thrilled to see so many schools in the Boulder Valley School District represented. This event brings together parent leaders from schools across the district to strengthen fundraising efforts and connect with other parent leaders to grow their impact in our schools.

Working together to support schools

PTO and PTA organizations across BVSD provide important resources to supplement the educational experience for students and help build community. Impact on Education convenes the leaders of these organizations each year to ensure they know how we can support their efforts and how we work each day to support the students and educators at their school.

After a brief update on our programs and recent happenings, we shared this new video about how we are supporting the mental health of BVSD students affected by the Marshall Fire.

An important part of supporting schools is making sure all families are included. To support parent leaders, we invited representatives from the NAACP Boulder County Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Collaborative to share resources and ideas for implementing or strengthening school DEI committees.

An update from the BVSD Superintendent

In addition to presenting information on and answering questions about the BVSD Facilities Critical Needs Plan and the All Together for All Students strategic plan, Dr. Anderson also spent over an hour with us discussing pressing current issues in the district including

We’re grateful that Dr. Anderson was able to spend so much time with BVSD’s parent leaders at the summit to share important and timely updates and answer questions.

BEFORE YOU GO …

Impact on Education is a nonprofit organization, and we depend on our community to help us put our mission into action. We need your help to to provide opportunity and resources to 30,000 students and 4,000 educators in the Boulder Valley School District.

Thank you for supporting Impact on Education

We are humbled by the outpouring of support we received on Friday at our annual gala, Together We Build.

From the family style dining experience to the lively conversations to raising 56 paddles for our 56 schools, the evening was centered around community. Together we raised over $300,000 to help students build resilience, confidence and their path to success.

We had so much fun on Friday and shared all of the wonderful photos on Facebook >>

For those that were unable to join us, we invite you to watch a new video about how we are supporting students and educators in the Boulder Valley School District affected by the Marshall Fire.

We’re so grateful to have a strong community behind us making sure we can put our mission into action. Thank you for being part of our work!

BEFORE YOU GO …

Impact on Education is a nonprofit organization, and we depend on our community to help us put our mission into action. We need your help to to provide opportunity and resources to 30,000 students and 4,000 educators of the Boulder Valley School District.

Anahi Quintana receives Imogene Maxon Early Educator Award

The Imogene “Jean” Maxon Early Educator Award is awarded to a BVSD educator with up to three years of classroom experience who demonstrates the drive, stamina, and vision of a career educator.

We recognized four finalists for this year’s award at the 29th Annual Impact Awards on May 23, including:

Congratulations to Anahi Quintana

Dr. Lora de la Cruz, BVSD Deputy Superintendent, announced the 2022 Imogene Maxon Early Educator Award winner, Anahi Quintana. Her colleagues told us:

“Anahi works beyond the walls of her classroom to reach parents and community members and has an “all together now” approach to student success.”

About Imogene Maxon

Imogene Maxon was a lifelong educator who taught with the Boulder Valley School District. In 2020 we received a bequest from her estate and created the Imogene “Jean” Maxon Early Educator Award in her honor. Imogene believed strongly in the impact of teachers who spend a lifetime honing instruction and learning practices and positively impacting countless students within the classroom.

Angevine counselor Lisa Cech received Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award

Humor, compassion and advocacy fueled Cech’s career in education

By Shay Castle

When Lise Cech still remembers the career advice her high school counselor gave. It was the same thing every other girl heard during their once- or twice-yearly visit.

“They would pretty much say, you can be a nurse or teacher,” Cech recalled. “No personality tests, no, ‘What do you want to do?’” 

Thankfully, despite the bad advice, education turned out to be the right career for Cech,this year’s Blake Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award winner. The Angevine Middle School counselor has spent more than half of her 30-plus years in education with Boulder Valley School District, after working with colleges in Illinois, California and Colorado.

Her time at BVSD has been marked by her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; leadership in creating a welcoming environment; and fierce advocacy for her students and peers. 

“Tomes could be written on the positive and immeasurable influence that she has had on kids,” wrote Angevine teacher Kylie Pyatt in one of 14 recommendation letters Cech received for the Blake Peterson award. “Lisa has supported, motivated, mentored, coached, counseled, laughed with, cried with, fed, listened to, encouraged, educated, helped, pushed, and deeply, deeply inspired me.”

Cech’s resume is as full and lengthy as the letters of support for her. The include creating Angevine’s Ally-Cat bystander intervention club and the school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance; serving as chair of the school climate committee; working as a lead equity trainer for BVSD; coordinating Safe and Drug Free Schools; and leading a year-long staff and faculty book study of Paul Gorsky’s “Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty,” in addition to training educators state- and nationwide in anti-bullying, mental health and DEI work.  

“Lisa Cech has been an educator well beyond the walls in which she has formally served,” wrote Angevine school psychologist Chrissy Lohn. 

“You would be hard-pressed to find a student who doesn’t have a story of how Lisa helped them or their family,” wrote Centaurus High School teacher Beth Bogner. “She is a legend!”

“Even though she is not my son’s school counselor, she could see he needed help,” recalled BVSD parent Christy-Schneider Little. “She provided him a safe place, techniques to help him work through some issues and continued to follow up with my son over the next few weeks to make sure he was okay. What even more impressed me was how she reached out to me, the worried parent. She let me know how he was doing and provided some thoughtful insights on how we can further support my son.”

Cech “provides a home away from home” for students, said Anna Gamble, Cech’s co-counselor at Angevine and one of five people who nominated Cech for the Blake Peterson award.

Beyond her extraordinary efforts for students, Cech is just as supportive of her peers, they said. 

“She really helped me become who I am in the field,” Gamble said. “She was able to help with my self-esteem and self-confidence, and lift me up.”

Cech’s first experience with education was coaching girls basketball as a teenager. She loves working with people, and has a special heart for middle school-aged kids and the struggles they face. She herself was bullied as a gay youth, an experience she drew on as she moved into DEI work. 

Cech notes that it was “a journey,” one she never fails to be honest about when instructing kids or adults on racism. 

“Talking about my own journey and the mistakes I made (let’s people know), ‘Oh, it’s a process,’” Cech said. “If you can disarm and let people see you, I think it breaks down some of those walls people might have. It cuts through that tension and fear.”

Her dedication to equity is driven by a deep empathy for those experiencing oppression.

“Injustice, it gets to my core,” Cech said. “My whole career in Boulder, seeing the inequities (made me question): Can you be part of a system and change it? That’s what I hoped to do and tried to do.”

“I was always saying, I’m still saying, ‘What are they going to do, fire me?’ I’m going to call stuff out in the hopes that things change.”

Gamble noted that it was Cech’s advocacy in large part that resulted in more mental health resources for Angevine, BVSD’s biggest and most diverse middle school.

“She’s not always the most popular voice in the room, but she is heard, and she is listened to,” Gamble said. “She’s got some fire.”

“Lisa is representation and love in action,” wrote Elizabeth Barcheck, assistant principal at Southern Hills Middle School.  “She seems eternally unfearful to shine light on the needs and complexities that middle schoolers face. Lisa is always willing to do what is right over what is easy.”

A little humor helps, too. Gamble noted Cech’s “flawless” presentation skills, whether to educators, parents or students. 

“She always has people laughing,” Gamble said.

Cech’s resume also includes stand-up comedy. 

“When I turned 30, my wife got me a standup comedy class as a present,” she explained. “As your final exam, you go on stage and do your 5-minute bit. I did really well, and it got into me. I did it for a couple years. I made money at it, but I’m usually in bed by 9, so lifestyle-wise, it didn’t quite fit.”

These days, her comedy is limited to the classroom — “If I can make my students laugh or laugh with them, we have a shared experience,” Cech said. “It creates connection.” — but she wouldn’t rule out a post-retirement career as a daytime comedian.

“I’ve got 40 years of material,” she joked. “Keep an eye out for me on the circuit.”

More likely is continued coaching and playing of pickleball, “my current passion.”

Cech has one year left in her decade-spanning career. She’ll spend part of it back on the district’s equity cohort, which she helped create, training teachers and administrators in equity and cultural proficiency.

In a high-burnout and turnover industry, Cech attributes her staying power to regular meditation and self-care, and her wife of 33 years, B.K..

“A good, solid relationship has really gotten me through most of it,” Cech said. “Having somebody as a steady, loving presence who really helped me through things.”

Cech was surprised to be recognized with the Blake Peterson Award. She’s enjoyed hearing from teachers who she had trained over the years, and students she worked with. 

“It feels good to get acknowledgement, which in education we don’t always get a lot of,” she said. “It feels like a good note to almost-end on.”

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