Meet Ms. Mikaela!
Mikaela was born in Minnesota. She moved around quite a bit as a child calling Minnesota, California, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Maryland her home at various points. Growing up, Mikaela always enjoyed being around children and teaching others. She babysat often and completed a work-study program during her senior year of high school where she worked in a daycare center. It was during this same year, that Mikaela really started to ponder her career path. Mikaela found great support from two amazing teachers that were a positive influence on her learning. She credits them with getting her through high school; they created enjoyable learning experiences and provided real-life applications. They valued her as an individual and helped her to reach her potential. By the end of her senior year, she knew that was something she wanted to do for other children and make that difference as well. After high school, Mikaela attended Towson University just outside of Baltimore, MD. She took a few detours along the way and even pursued restaurant management for some time. It didn’t take her long to realize sometimes managing adults can be much harder than managing kids! Recognizing the restaurant life wasn’t what she wanted long term, she returned to school to follow her dream and become a teacher!
Upon graduating from college in 2001, Mikaela taught in Baltimore County Public Schools where she taught first, fourth, and fifth grades. In 2006, Mikaela and her husband, Will, welcomed their son, Mason, into their family. In 2008, she accepted a position at Friends School of Baltimore, a private school close to their home in Baltimore and a school they had at the top of their list for Mason. During her six year tenure at Friends, she taught first and fifth grades.
Mikaela and her husband knew they didn’t want to stay in Baltimore forever and felt they should probably move before Mason became too much older. They had visited Colorado in recent years and had friends who had recently moved as well. Their love for the outdoors drew them to Colorado and in 2014 they landed in Castle Rock.
School choice was new to Mikaela and she didn’t become aware of Renaissance until just a few weeks prior to their move. At that time, enrollment had closed. However, the more she read about Renaissance the more it felt similar to the private school they were coming from. They were barely unpacked in their new home when Mikaela attended the first parent orientation of the year. Bummed that they couldn’t get their son in, Mason attended two other elementary schools during their first few years in Castle Rock. After taking a couple years to get settled in their new environment, Mikaela returned to teaching at one of these schools where she taught second grade and worked as a literacy interventionist working with students in kindergarten through eighth grades. It wasn’t until Mason was in fifth grade that he was granted a spot at REMS. During Mason’s first year, Mikaela volunteered as a Crew Parent and realized first hand what a special place our school is.
Mikaela knew she wanted to teach at Renaissance, but also recognized that she needed her space and Mason needed his. In 2019, Mason matriculated to Renaissance Secondary School and Mikaela joined the staff at Renaissance Elementary as a third grade teacher. The transition from being a parent at our school to being a teacher has been seamless for Mikaela. Upon talking with her you can tell how passionate she is about our school, her Crew, and about teaching. “I think it’s necessary to see the good in all of our students. It’s important to know them as individuals and to honor the unique gifts they offer to our Crew.” She also shared that she often asks herself if she would want to be a student in her crew. “I want to instill a love of learning, a desire to explore and take risks, and curiosity in all of my students.”
The 2019-2020 school year marked her 16th year teaching but her first time teaching third grade. Mikaela said, “Third grade is really enjoyable to teach; actually every grade is wonderful in its unique way. However, third graders generally enjoy school, are much more independent, and they appreciate almost anything and everything I do…. And they still think I’m funny when I do silly things!”
When asked what she likes most about working at REMS she said, “There are so many things! This job is very fulfilling and I appreciate the supportive community of students, parents, and staff. I value the autonomy we are given; we are encouraged to take risks, and there is a trust in us that we will all do what is best for kids. I enjoy getting to learn alongside my students and sharing experiences together; especially on our voyages. The bonding and learning that takes place on our overnight voyages is so valuable. It’s neat to have those shared experiences, that often push us, to reflect back on when things are challenging in the classroom. Overall, this is just such an amazing community and I feel lucky to be a part of it.”
Ms. Billie had this to say about Mikaela, “She is very knowledgeable, organized, and has a wealth of knowledge to share with our staff. And, she is the mother of one of my former students. I feel we were so lucky to add her to our staff! It has been fun to work with her.” A parent in Mikaela’s crew shared this, “Mikaela goes above and beyond to get to know and connect with her students and families. This has been such a wonderful year for our child and our family.”
Outside of school, Mikaela enjoys spending time with her family and their two dogs, Disco and Olive. They like to play games, cook, and travel. Mikaela also enjoys reading and can often be found with a book she’s reading professionally and one she’s reading for fun. Finally, she enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, or just relaxing on her deck.
It is always wonderful seeing a parent move into a teaching role at our school! Thank you, Mikaela, for sharing your passion for teaching and learning with our third graders.
The 2021-2022 school year will be Mikaela’s 18th year of teaching and her third year teaching third grade at REMS.
What a treat it was to sit down and interview this guy! He is warm, kind, and you won’t believe what he does in his free time! He is a good man and I hope this week you all will get to see what a blessing he is to our school and community.
Troy, along with his sister, was born and raised in Colorado by his parents . His dad was a police officer with the Commerce City Police Department until he retired in 1989. His mother stayed at home with the kids until they were old enough to go to school. After a short stint in restaurant management, she worked for the Aurora Public School System. She, herself recently retired and is enjoying retirement.
He is married to a wonderful woman and together they have a daughter who is in her Junior year of high school at Ponderosa High in Parker. “My daughter is an awesome basketball player, we love to watch her play,” He shared with pride.
For the past 5 years, he and his family have been heavily involved in a program called Royal Family Kids. It is a nonprofit organization in Parker that supports kids in the foster program. There are 3 components to this program. “From September to May, every Saturday we hold what are called Clubs. The kids come to a local church and participate in different activities each month. Then, attached to that, is our mentoring program. I myself have a couple of little guys that I work with, my wife has a little girl she mentors and works with and then, of course, my daughter has a little girl as well. My daughter has built a sweet and neat relationship with her and can’t wait for Saturday so that they can spend time together. The third component is our summer camps program. As adults, you are paired with a partner to take 3-4 kids under your care at this camp. We kayak, rock climb, swim, play games, and provide opportunities that most of these kids won’t otherwise get. We celebrate birthdays on one day at camp because a lot of these kids have never experienced that. It is a great time, a wonderful way to give back and something I am really proud of,” Troy said.
From there Troy realized that once the program ended at 12 years old, there was not another program for these hard “teen years” and he wanted to have something that would support those kids, so, they created Kings Teens, another support, mentoring and club program for the older kids. Their camp is in July and it is very similar to what happens with the younger kids. Birthday parties, opportunities to ride horses, rock climb, and many other events during that week. “As a product of a divorced family at the age of 12, I realize how hard those years can be, and if we can help these kids through that by providing the support that they need, then we have created something good. Camps are tough for us though. With the younger kids, we have enough women volunteers and not enough men, for the older kids, it is the opposite. We are in need of people who can give some time in either of these programs to help these kiddos out,” he stated.
If you are interested in finding out more, please visit royalfamilykids.org and kingsteencamp.org or reach out to Troy directly.
So, what is a School Marshal, and is that the same as a School Resource Officer? Although they do have some similarities, no, they are two different positions. A School Resource Officer, or “SRO” for short, is dedicated to one location all the time throughout the school year. A School Marshal is a position that was created after the Sandy Hook Incident when officials realized that our elementary schools were not protected like the middle and high schools. The dynamic surrounding school shootings in the country was and is a big deal. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department and the Town of Castle Rock developed the School Marshal’s program. In the beginning, it was just whoever signed up to be that person for the day, got to be that person for the day. It was called an overtime assignment, such as the movie theaters, churches, or other locations in town that wanted a law enforcement presence. Officers signed up for it, were paid overtime for it, and so forth. However, the Town of Castle Rock realized the importance of this program and dedicated officers just to it. Castle Rock has one SRO with each of the high schools, and two School Marshals, one dedicated to the East Side and one dedicated to the West side of I-25. These are now positions that you have to apply for, and no longer are considered part of the overtime assignment categories. Troy has worked for Castle Rock for 21 years now and the last three years, at his request, has been assigned and qualified as a School Marshal. He explained that the Marshals do not wear police uniforms or drive marked cars but are readily recognizable and suitably trained to respond to any potential difficulties. This softer approach allows children to relate better to the Marshals as they become acquainted. The Marshals have parking spots that are not open to the public so their equipment is readily available if needed.
The Marshals are required to be in each of their assigned schools every day. In Troy’s case, there are 9 elementary schools he rotates through each day. He says the best part of his job is being able to eat and play and get to know the staff and the students and establishing relationships and trust. His primary goal is to be involved in the schools: to make a connection with every student, staff, and family member he can!
When asked if he had concerns about any of the schools, he said that some of the older schools were built when there was no thought of securing the buildings or locking them down. Different schools are handled differently due to the actual available space. He wished we could build new schools with all the safety facilities possible for all students, recognizing the impossibility of that. His other concern is that the life situations that students face can be alleviated at school, and many times the positive results can be lost when they return to the stressful situations at home. Making positive connections and establishing a safe place for these kids, and all our kids at our schools, is important. Obviously, the overall function of the SRO and School Marshal programs is to protect the students, staff, and families from threats inside or outside of the school, but there is also a unique opportunity to bring in a positive side to this whole relationship. There is a mentoring opportunity, a community-building opportunity, and more. “I will sit and eat lunch with kids, read with kids, play games on the playground with the kids, or anything to provide positive connections and support,” Troy stated. Further, he stated, “This is a different level of community service that is being established inside and outside of the school. That is the most essential piece of this program. With the ugly side at the forefront, this brings in a beautiful side, this wonderful opportunity that has not been seen inside the schools before, even with the SRO programs.”
In closing Troy wanted his “parents” to know, “We are in this together. Safety is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It is something I take very seriously. I recognize the importance of my job and how that impacts your families every day. I am here to keep everyone safe, but I want to be a friend, I want to be a mentor and I want to help these kids in any way possible. We need to plant seeds and help those seeds flourish! Taking steps to be a part of a village like the one here at REMS is important and I would encourage parents to step into that. Be supportive, be involved, and let’s be a team!”
Troy, we are grateful for your service! Next time we parents see him, let’s say ‘thank you.’ We are blessed to have him as part of our Crew!
We are crew
We love to celebrate all of the ways our Parent & Staff Crews make Renaissance a great place to grow and learn!