Lesson Plans: For Columbine teacher, dedication adds up to award

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By AJ Vicens

Lori Young, in her 11th year teaching math at Columbine High School, has received several awards over the course of her career.

Young has been honored with a teacher recognition award from the Boettcher Foundation and was recognized as Columbine’s teacher of the year for 2008-09. But Young’s latest accolade means a lot, because it comes from her peers.

Young received the My Teacher, My Hero award Sept. 12, in honor of service to her students and colleagues. Southwest Plaza Mall and the Jefferson Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports Jeffco Public Schools, present the award.

“Lori Young was selected as the honoree out of 90 teachers in our building,” said Karen Jones, a principal’s secretary at Columbine. “Lori’s dedication to students is unparalleled,” Jones wrote to the foundation. “She eagerly assists others in the time of need.”

Young said the fact that her colleagues chose her is the biggest honor.

“It started with my colleagues that I work with every day,” Young said. “That in itself is a huge compliment. They see what I do every day. That part means more to me than anything else.”

Young was surprised that she was chosen.

“If you look around at Columbine High School, our staff is fantastic,” she said. “Anybody could have been nominated or put up for an award like that.”

For Young, making a connection with her students is paramount.

“I really, really like teaching,” Young said. “Teaching is the best job in America. It’s that connection with the kids. When that little light bulb comes on, and they get it, it’s just amazing.”

This year she’s teaching ninth- and 10th-grade geometry and 11th- and 12th-grade advanced-placement BC calculus.

It helps that Young has a freakish zeal for the material she teaches.

“I dig the heck out of math,” she said, “and just to be able to share that passion with the kids. Hopefully they buy into me a little bit so they can buy into the math.”

She also feels that teachers in general don’t get enough credit.

“Often the teaching profession, they don’t get the recognition for all the hard work they do,” Young said. “It’s nice to get that pat on the back every once in a while. When a teacher is in the news, usually it’s something you don’t want to read.”

That’s one of the reasons she takes the My Teacher, My Hero award very seriously. When other teachers single one of their own out for recognition, it really means something.

“I don’t take it lightly. I consider it a huge honor,” Young said. “But that doesn’t affect my own kids. My sassy 11-year-old still thinks I’m a nerdy math teacher.”

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.