Giving a voice from the inside | AspenTimes.com

Giving a voice from the inside

In the wake of some negative commentary regarding teachers in our town, I feel compelled to share my voice. I do not speak for anyone else, no union, no official or unofficial group, just myself. I moved my entire life, my family and my career to this incredible little hamlet for one main reason: this school district. This is my second year teaching English at Aspen High School. I was gifted with an incredible new light flooded oasis of a classroom, a new office, plus a raise to jump-start the year. Sure, my salary is dismal (and we could really use another English position), but this job has never been about the money. I made more tending bar in this town, a disturbing and poignant reality; but I have ultimately chosen a role in this community that I am proud of.

My colleagues inspire and challenge me daily and I leave their presence confident that we are creating a safe space for kids to hone their skills as excited readers, impassioned writers and critical thinkers. They are my friends, and that warmth and authenticity creates powerful ripples throughout the school. My workplace isn't toxic, it's a place where lines of communication are transparent and open, all feedback and even criticism is encouraged and heard. Our principal Tharyn Mulberry and assistant principal Sarah Strassburger regularly pop into my classroom, and I have complete confidence in them, knowing that their leadership captains our school.

I reach out to them, and the school board, whenever I feel like I need support and know that they have my back. They are tireless in their dedication in keeping our school the incredible place it is, working to ensure no students fall through the cracks — and that we as a community are promoting values that will elevate the rising generations of global citizens.

I also am a parent, and the teachers my children have had are true masters of their craft and really see my kids for who they are. My own students are well-rounded, gracious, intelligent, conscious and creative individuals, which is a direct result of the caliber of the families in this valley. I am so blessed to be able to share my love of language with each and every one of them.

Maile LaPenna

Aspen High School teacher

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