Aspen High School’s Travis Moore sticks to his roots
Third-generation Aspenite and retiring science teacher instills passion for the outdoors in students
Not one but two generations of Moores graduated from Aspen High School this June, if retirement can perhaps be considered its own kind of graduation.
Third-generation Aspenite Travis Moore got to bid farewell to the classroom alongside his son, graduating senior Taiga Moore, when the elder Moore retired from the science department at the high school this year. After 25 years in education and 21 at Aspen High, the timing was just right to retire with the class of 2021, the longtime science teacher said.
“It’s kind of been at the back of my mind. … I was kind of thinking ‘Wow, it would be pretty cool to graduate with my kid,’ the second time for me — I graduated in ‘85,” he said. “But to graduate again, and I don’t know, just maybe try and do some different things. … 2021 was definitely an impetus for sure, but I also think there’s a lot of younger and more brilliant people out there who can fill my spot and do amazing things.”
Moore hopes he has imparted in his students a sense of environmental stewardship, critical thinking and compassion; it’s the whole person — not just the academic student — he aims to teach.
“It’s not about the grades, it’s not about even the biology – like the mitosis and stuff that they learn or whatever. It’s more about, how do they develop as people?” Moore said. “And hopefully they develop into kind and caring and empathetic and passionate people with a love for the outdoors and an appreciation for where they grew up and how lucky they are as well as then a passion to try to make the world better in one way or another.”
Though he won’t be in the science classroom any more, Moore will still be on campus as a coach for the Nordic ski team, where he has coached future Olympians and world-class athletes.
Moore has something of a “legend status” as an outdoorsman and educator in the eyes of Aspen High School alumni and three-time Olympian Simi Hamilton. Though Hamilton never had Moore as a science teacher, he still picked up on Moore’s “passion for learning and getting outside, especially with the earth sciences” out on the Nordic trails, Hamilton said.
“You still feel how they impact your education and how they influence your education. … He still had a pretty huge impact on my education, and I was grateful for that,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said Moore was “an integral and important part” of the outdoor-minded science department at Aspen High School; that passion translated as much to athletes who trained with Moore as students who studied under him.
“Trav was a really huge component of getting kids psyched and just getting interested in learning everything that was around us and looking up at the stars at night,” Hamilton said.
Editor’s note: This article is the last in a series on Aspen School District’s retiring teachers. The features will ran every Friday in The Aspen Times through the month of June.
Moore also has a reputation for his sense of humor and for keeping things fun, according to Hamilton.
“He was always cracking jokes. He was designing workouts that were making us really fit and we didn’t even know it,” Hamilton said.
And now that Moore has more free time, Hamilton hopes “to find plenty of opportunities to get out into the mountains with him and do a lot more laughing because he’s a pretty funny guy to be around,” he said.
Moore’s account of his teaching methods suggest as much. He’d rather incorporate a game into learning than a worksheet; he took astronomy students to the planetarium and held geology final exams on skis at Aspen Highlands. His colleagues share that mentality, Moore said.
“We were able to work together to make it fun, make it memorable, make it worth showing up to work everyday with a smile on your face,” he said.
A lot has changed in his time at the school district, which Moore considers a “crazy couple of decades” that ushered in new technology and new ways of communicating. But for all the efforts to “reinvent the wheel” in education, there’s merit in keeping some things the same, too, he said.
“I think we need to kind of stick to our roots as a small-town school that embraces outdoor learning and outdoor education, that really loves kids and loves their stories and wants to get to know them,” Moore said. “I think we just need to keep doing that and not necessarily jumping on any particular technological bandwagon or the next latest and greatest thing. I think we are the next latest and greatest thing, really if we just kind of keep doing what we’re doing.”
The approval allows Mark Hunt to remove an employee-housing deed-restriction on a 400-square-foot studio unit he owns and make it a commercial unit.
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