Evergreen English teacher Travis Macy likes putting a little spice in his teaching.
He wants his teaching to have his flavor, and he feels his job is to make education not just relevant, but real for students. He does that by integrating technology into his high school classroom.
On Saturday, he was one of two Jeffco high school teachers honored with a My Teacher My Hero award. Macy is the first EHS teacher to receive the award, which has been given by the Jefferson Foundation for 10 years.
Conifer High School science teacher Greg Manier received the award in 2008. Evergreen Middle School technology teacher Chet Andes was honored in 2009, and EMS math teacher Jeffrey DeBuhr was honored in 2006. DeBuhr went on to teach at Conifer High and since then has left the district.
Macy taught at Evergreen High for two years before bringing his talent and love for teaching and technology to Jeffco Virtual Academy, the school district’s online school, this year.
A 2001 Evergreen High graduate, Macy attended the University of Colorado at Boulder intending to become a doctor. He realized partway through college that his life wasn’t balanced because he spent so much time studying.
So with more balance in mind and after having met his future wife, Amy, he decided to become a teacher.
He worked as a substitute teacher while continuing his career as a professional ultra-adventure racer. Adventure racing is a combination of two or more endurance events such as mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, horseback riding and cross-country running.
He and Amy moved to New Zealand for about 18 months, then returned to Denver, where both taught at Denver Academy, a school for students with learning difficulties.
“It was really rewarding,” Macy said. “It was awesome to see kids who haven’t succeeded start to succeed.”
In 2010, the couple moved to Brook Forest Road in Evergreen about 500 yards from Macy’s childhood home, and Macy worked hard to get a job at his alma mater.
“My goal moving to Evergreen was I wanted to work in my own community,” he said.
Adding technology to English
Whether you’re teaching English now or many years ago, the concepts are the same, he says. It’s a matter of teaching reading, writing and communicating, though in today’s world, technology is a large component.
For example, he said, one of the tenets of good writing is saying more with fewer words such as a headline in a newspaper. Nowadays, it’s writing a tweet for your Twitter account in 140 characters.
He believes strongly in collaborative learning in which teachers work together to be more effective in the classroom and help each other become better teachers.
Macy made the jump to teach English at Jeffco Virtual Academy this year for many reasons. Among them are flexibility and money. Since his computer is his classroom, he can devote more time to adventure racing. As a professional, he gets paid a small amount.
Macy and his wife also have started a business where they help high school students prepare themselves for college, called the College Coach.
The couple have a 19-month-old son and are expecting their second child in February.
Like it was in college, for Macy, it’s about trying to find balance: “I want to balance being a dad, husband, teacher and professional athlete.”