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School Stories

The Next Generation of Teachers

My role as a mentor is just one of the countless ways I am inspired daily in my work at Graland. I have had the privilege of mentoring 10 teachers-in-training (or residents) during my time here. Every one of the residents with whom I have worked has joined our Graland community with an excitement for their new career.  
For the past two decades, Graland has partnered with Stanley Teacher Prep and more recently the Boettcher Teacher Residency Program to participate in Colorado’s largest and most effective residency-based teacher preparation program. As a field-based program, it is grounded in a year-long classroom teaching opportunity, with daily guidance and coaching from a skilled mentor teacher who shares the classroom. Residents earn an initial teaching license and complete licensure coursework that integrates theory and practice. Learn more about how Graland is helping train the next generation of teachers.

Mentor Role Ensures Continued Excellence (by Justine Hall)

My role as a mentor is just one of the countless ways I am inspired daily in my work at Graland. I have had the privilege of mentoring 10 teachers-in-training (or residents) during my time here. 

Every one of the residents with whom I have worked has joined our Graland community with an excitement for their new career. Working everyday alongside someone with whom you can share your passion and enthusiasm is truly a joy. A resident spends four days a week in the classroom and one day continuing their professional development as part of the Boettcher Teacher Residency Program. As a mentor within this professional learning community, I attend monthly mentor meetings where effective mentoring practices are discussed. Working with a community of professionals committed to training high quality, dedicated teachers is inspiring on an individual level and positive for the teaching profession in Colorado. 

Almost daily, residents hear about, read about or see new ideas and as a result have a plethora of questions. These questions challenge me to think about my own teaching and philosophies and inspire me to continue to be a lifelong learner always looking for new ways to engage students. As with my students, I encourage residents to take risks and try different ideas in order to develop their own teaching style. Recently, my resident heard about a new way to assess students’ learning through technology. She arrived the next morning, having created a lesson over night, eager to implement it in the classroom. The students were excited and motivated to use the iPads to demonstrate their understanding and the lesson was a complete success, providing my resident with excellent data to inform her future instruction. It is truly inspiring to be part of cultivating this enthusiasm and willingness to innovate. 
Each year, residents are required to plan a curriculum unit incorporating all subject areas. This year, inspired by our school focus of “Innovation, Inclusivity and Inspiration,” and hearing about my experience as part of Graland’s diversity and equity cohort, my resident decided to plan a series of lessons entitled “Social Justice Warriors.” The aim is to inspire our students to be thoughtful, engaged citizens and leaders. I am excited to see how our students will respond. 
In my role as mentor I hope to inspire residents to have an enduring teaching career continually reflecting and refining their practice, and in turn, residents inspire me to do the same! 

Grade 2 team leader Justine Hall comes all the way from England where she spent 10 years teaching at a school in Leeds and also held the title of assistant head of school. Since 2007, she has taught language arts, social studies and math in her classroom, and she also serves on the admission committee. 

Resident Reflects on Classroom Experience (by Cole Hamilton)

You’re probably familiar with the genre of education movies. Whether it’s in the heated classroom confrontations of Dangerous Minds, the heart-wrenching journals of Freedom Writers, or the table-stomping proclamations of self in The Dead Poets Society, we’re told to expect career-defining moments of inspiration. Of course, those are just movies.
Finding inspiration inside a school year is a much quieter, more gentle process and one challenge of a teaching residency that no one warns you about. At first, when the inner workings of 7-year-olds are still a mystery, their enthusiasm is bracing and you spend most of your time watching, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I found myself inspired then by the reliability of my mentor Katie Stratman and the rest of the second-grade team who encouraged me to take time to breathe, to be patient and to steady myself in the eyes of our students.
For residents, things happen very slowly at first but when you inhabit the role of “teacher” for the first time, things change all at once. Suddenly, those four-foot-nothing people don’t seem so small because you come to understand the depth and richness of their inner lives. It’s not the big moments that inspire, like a student finally conquering part of the curriculum, but the smallest ones that fuel us. It’s the questions that catch us off guard with surprising nuance for a person so small, or watching students work to be inclusive even when no one is watching, or at its smallest, the smile of a second grader who is genuinely excited every morning to start another day of school.
I haven’t had any students climbing on tables à la Robin Williams yet, but with windows that look out to every part of our campus, I feel inspired daily by the joy and earnestness that students bring to our community. In a world that can be so cynical, they provide at least a moment’s pause to imagine a better way forward. 

Cole Hamilton is a Graland Country Day School alumnus. Raised here in Colorado, he taught for two years at the University of Colorado, Boulder where he received his master’s degree in English. Cole now works as a Boettcher Teaching Resident in Grade 2. 


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.