Haukeness: Promoting Cortez as a good place to live and teach

Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:21 PM
Lori Haukeness

Someone once said, “To teach is to touch a life forever.” Our teachers not only influence our students for a lifetime, they impact our community for generations to come.

Our schools are educating the civic leaders, business owners and neighbors of the future – individuals who will shape the destiny of our community. I know that the most important person in each child’s life at school is their teacher, and I am committed to ensuring we have the best teachers possible for our students.

Our goal in Cortez is to be the No. 1 rural district where teachers want to work because they are valued and developed, are part of a dynamic team, have opportunities for leadership and are making a difference every day in their students’ ability to reach their potential.

To accomplish this goal, we need to think bigger and get creative about how we attract and retain the best teachers. We know that salary is a big part of recruitment, but we also know that there are other factors that influence people’s decisions about where they work and live. We believe our community and our schools offer a unique opportunity for teachers to make a difference in a beautiful place and enjoy the benefits of our small-town lifestyle.

To help our district recruit, we are forming new and innovative partnerships with surrounding districts, colleges and with alternative teaching license programs. First, I am pleased to announce we are launching a new initiative called “Teach in Southwest Colorado.” The goal of this effort is to join forces with surrounding districts to better promote our communities, our diversity, our rural lifestyle, outdoor activities and, most important, our schools and our supports for teachers. We recently launched our Facebook page, Teach in Southwest Colorado, and our website,, will be live by the end of the month.

We also are deepening partnerships with Fort Lewis and other colleges to increase the number of student teachers and recent graduates who choose to come and start their teaching careers with us. Finally, we are partnering with the Boettcher program to recruit people who have an interest in switching careers and becoming teachers by offering high-quality training to enable people to earn their teaching license while making a difference for our students right away.

We are pushing ourselves to think bigger and reach out more broadly to attract and retain teachers, and I would like to ask for your help. There are several simple ways you can help us recruit and retain teachers right now.

Follow us on Facebook (Teach in Southwest Colorado) and help spread the word about our community, our wonderful schools and the job openings we have for next year. Potential teachers will be visiting the area. Be prepared to tell them why you live here and what you value about this community. Demonstrate to them that our community values education and appreciates teachers.One aspect of a community that potential teachers consider is the availability of housing in their price range. Help us find housing for our new teachers. If you or someone you know has an affordable rental or vacation property that you would be willing to make available to teachers, please contact our office and let us know. We are compiling a list to help new teachers find affordable housing.Help us welcome new teachers and show our deep appreciation to our current teachers. We greatly appreciate all the businesses that offer teacher discounts and we would ask that everyone in our community thank the teachers that you know and welcome new teachers that are moving to our community. Christie McAuliffe, the teacher who was on the Challenger space shuttle, once said, “I touch the future – I teach.” I want to personally thank all our teachers for all they are doing for the future of our students and our community. Please join me in supporting our efforts to recruit and retain our teachers.

Lori Haukeness is superintendent of Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1. Superintendent Haukeness graduated from Montezuma-Cortez High School and has been a dedicated leader in Montezuma-Cortez schools for 22 years. Reach her at Education Update appears in the Journal on the fourth Friday of every month.