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Class Notes and Alumni News

Alumni Award Winner: Luke Beatty ‘86

Luke Beatty ‘86 was not always full of big ideas. A self-described underachiever who “wasn’t academically inclined” during his years at Graland, Luke was content to let big brother Dixon ‘83 have the spotlight. Teachers recall that Luke was “social,” “well-liked” and even “distracted.”
Luke Beatty ‘86 was not always full of big ideas. A self-described underachiever who “wasn’t academically inclined” during his years at Graland, Luke was content to let big brother Dixon ‘83 have the spotlight. Teachers recall that Luke was “social,” “well-liked” and even “distracted.”
“I remember one parent conference when my mother was so befuddled by my mediocre performance in Mr. Hickey’s English class that she just opened his classroom door and set down a pint of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and walked away with a grin,” he laughs.
Neither his mom nor Mr. Hickey nor Luke himself imagined that one day he would receive a prestigious alumni award named for Nancy Nye ‘39 Priest, a beloved teacher who retired in 1995 after 43 years at Graland. The award recognizes Luke’s extraordinary professional accomplishments and immense leadership qualities.
Today, Luke is immersed in his second successful career, married and the father of two Graland students. His bio describes him as an “accomplished senior digital media executive with deep experience running early stage, venture funded startups as well as some of the largest, publicly traded global media and technology operations.”
But his story really starts in pre-first grade at Graland Country Day School. Luke remembers his Lower School teachers, Mrs. Sullivan, Mrs. McCuen, Mrs. Resnick, Mrs. Oscarson and Mrs. Taylor, women who taught him how to be a good person and inspired him to pursue a career in education. He also speaks fondly of Mrs. Priest.
“It means a lot that this award is named for her,” he says thoughtfully. “I was someone who benefited from her experiential approach to learning. I liked my Southwest trip [where we studied native pottery] so much that in high school I spent a spring break doing pottery at Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico and in college I minored in art, specifically ceramics. Her style of teaching through hands-on projects really had an impression on me and enabled me to be successful at something. It wasn’t all about filling notebooks and test scores.”
When Luke began engaging in his own learning, he put his Graland education to good use. At Connecticut College, he double-majored in education and anthropology and earned a teaching certificate. He landed at New Hampton, a prep school in New Hampshire, where he served as the assistant dean, taught history and economics, and coached lacrosse. After four years, Luke returned to school for a master’s degree in education administration from Harvard University. There, he became acutely interested in the digital media wave that was beginning to take shape in Silicon Valley.
The year was 1998, and Luke says, “I was blown away by the power of search engines and how these incredible online tools gave me untethered access to information from all over the world.”
Although he stayed in the education field for a year after Harvard, his passion for information technology took over. He left education and started over at the bottom, working for a local digital media startup as an intern before eventually starting his own company, which he later sold to Yahoo.
Now he is on the front edge of innovation at AOL/Verizon as the telecom giant’s president of media brands. He also makes time to inspire, coach and encourage big dreamers, meeting daily with entrepreneurs who seek his advice and the wisdom of his experience. He volunteers on the board at Charity Navigator where his niche is helping nonprofits find funding and support. Luke also stays closely connected to many of his classmates from Graland.
“Thank goodness my parents decided to send me to Graland,” he says. “Even if Graland had the worst computers, worst fields and worst buildings, people would still send their kids here because of the teachers. I’m very grateful for all that my teachers gave me, and I don’t take any of it for granted. Now my wife Susan and I try to pass this appreciation of the faculty on to our own kids.”

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.