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What keeps our teachers going?

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyEagle County teachers gathered at Ford Amphitheater Friday for one final get together before school begins next week.
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VAIL ” People ask Bob Zimmerman, who calls himself the official old timer for Eagle County schools, how he keeps doing the same thing year after year.

Zimmerman’s been a teacher for 41 years, and he always tells them, “No, we don’t do the same thing every year.”

“You might teach the same subject, but you have different students,” he said to a large gathering of teachers and staff at the Ford Amphitheater Thursday. He was talking to the teachers assembled at the big back-to-school party before the students come rolling in next week.



But that’s really what keeps teachers coming back every fall ” the kids. Meeting new faces and trying to make a difference is what teaching is all about, they say.

While comedian Doug Dugan cracked jokes on stage about the Teacher Advancement Program and Berry Creek Middle School’s new uniforms, teachers mingled and talked about the school year, which starts Wednesday.



“By this time of year, we’re ready to go back,” said Genevieve Coffey, a teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School. “There’s a little nervous energy around.”

Coffey said it’s a little comforting to teach the same material every year, but it’s exciting to tweak it and make it better for each group of new students.

Tracy Teetaert, an eighth grade teacher at Minturn Middle School, said it’s always the kids and their enthusiasm that keeps her coming back. This year, she’ll be teaching students she had as fifth graders at Meadow Mountain Elementary, and she’s curious to see how they’ve grown and changed.



Kevin Kottenstette, a P.E. and shop teacher at Gypsum Creek Middle school, said he still loves his job after 25 years.

“I have the best job in the district,” he said. “I look forward to meeting the kids, and there’s quite a few new children in the valley every year.”

Interim Superintendent John Pacheco told teachers that is truly a profession where you can make a difference. Every year, teachers have the opportunity to examine what they did right, what they did wrong and start again with a new group of kids, he said.

“Our profession makes all the other professions possible,” Pacheco said.

After the inspiration came the laughs. Dugan, who was wearing jeans and a flowery Hawaiian shirt he believed could be mistaken for a woman’s blouse, told the teachers he was actually modeling Berry Creek Middle School’s new uniforms. That one killed.

Even administrators Mike Gass and Heather Eberts snuck in some jokes, changing Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might be a Redneck if…” theme to “You might be an Eagle County School veteran if…..”

For instance, if while filling out a job application, and under technology skills you write “proficiency with an abacus,” you might be a veteran teacher. If you have more accrued sick days than new teachers in the district, you might a veteran teacher.

And, looking around at all the veteran teachers in amphitheater laughing, it certainly rang true.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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