Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Blue Ribbon teamwork |

Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Blue Ribbon teamwork

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado

With no children of their own, the Coyers are devoted to all our kids in this valley.

Steve, the genial chairman of the Youth Foundation, and wife Amy have done much to improve the prospects for our children.

This night, though, they helped the staff at Avon Elementary School celebrate their national recognition as one of five Blue Ribbon schools in Colorado by taking them all out to dinner at Vin 48.

The school has risen these past seven years with Principal Melissa Rewold-Thuon. She’s one of those principals who knows everything about each student and their families as a matter of course. Obviously her young staff connects with her, too.

The pinnacle the school has reached from the depths of white flight speaks to the talent and effort focused on Avon Elementary.

Rewold-Thuon has ridden a roller coaster. As recently as five years ago, her school faced the Department of Education taking it over. Three years ago, the school finally made it off a corrective action list.

I’m sure plenty of people would have pointed to 87 percent of the pupils not being native English speakers, along with nearly every one officially categorized as impoverished, and shrugged helplessly.

There’s a lesson for all of us, actually. Keep plugging.

So the principal and staff kept plugging, and the kids responded. Their CSAP scores doubled and in the case of reading, nearly tripled.

I wish my kids had the opportunity to attend today’s Avon Elementary School. The bilingual education and crossing cultures are invaluable for Anglo families, I believe.

My wife and I are big believers in public education vs. what we view as rather sheltered, prissy private or private lite (charter) schools with helicopter moms buzzing about, lest junior stub a toe, have his esteem bruised or , gasp, learn first hand that not everyone is so privileged as our little darling. But they’re still plenty human and have a lot to teach.

Educate for life, I say, along with academic and, sure, cultural and athletic achievement, too.

But back to the Coyers. They are part of the interested larger community that has helped Avon Elementary and other schools succeed.

The Youth Foundation provides tutoring, after-school and enrichment programs, as well as summer school. The Cordillera Motorcycle Club and Walking Mountains science center are two other groups that work with Avon Elementary, and other schools. All in all, that’s quite a team.

There’s a lot to celebrate.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at or 970-748-2920.

Support Local Journalism