Cathy DeLozier relocated from Fayetteville, Ark., to be close to her father, who lives in Conifer.
“We came to be close to him,” she said. DeLozier, who is in her second year as Ken Caryl Middle School’s band teacher, came to Colorado with her son, who attends the school.
What she found at the school was another kind of family.
“It’s the first time in the 22 years I’ve taught school that the staff genuinely cares about each other,” she said. “We’re very close. We collaborate a lot. And we genuinely care about the students like a family. … staff, custodians — everyone. We all get along.”
DeLozier contributed in her own way to the cast of colorful educators that populate the school. When she wandered into her new band room for the first time, she was struck by the drab tones.
“It was so depressing,” she said. “Now it’s happy.”
DeLozier repainted the band room royal blue. She hung abstract pictures on the walls and topped a cabinet with her old marching band hat.
Most striking, though, is the flattened French horn on her wall.
“Somebody gave that to me my first year of teaching,” she said. “He said ‘You can have this, but if you ever quit teaching, make sure you pass it on to another French horn band director.’ ”
The crushed instrument is a kind of metaphor for her approach to teaching. She doesn’t want a stuffy sense of seriousness to detract from the experience of learning music.
“I tell all sorts of stories. I’ll say that the kid’s still in there,” she said. “I try to laugh with my students. And it’s OK if they laugh at me. … We try to do something that makes them smile.”
Her advice is simple, and it echoes a common theme at the school.
“Have a little bit of humor, even when things turn rough.”