Montezuma-Cortez High School gained a new vice principal this week – as well as a global outlook on education.
Emily Moreland grew up in Grand Junction, but she has spent the past eight years teaching English in Kuwait and Ecuador. She was training to become a principal in Quito, Ecuador, when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her plans to move with her family for a position in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She returned to Western Colorado with her husband, teacher Jordan Englehart, and their two children. After camping, hiking, climbing and fly-fishing in their home state, Moreland said her family felt so rejuvenated that they realized this is not the time to go back abroad.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to reconnect to this place that we really value,” Moreland said in a phone interview with The Journal. Her husband attended and graduated from Montezuma-Cortez High School.
The school has a lot of pathways for students, such as the agriculture program and the opportunity for concurrent enrollment with nearby community colleges, like Pueblo Community College.
“It felt like a really good fit for me,” Moreland said, because the school administration “understands that all kids are different and have different goals.”
Principal Eric Chandler said Moreland “brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in education” to the position.
Colorado has always been home for Moreland, and during the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak, she said she feels comfortable being here with her children and creating a home for them.
For Moreland, the Cortez high school is also “really interesting in the amount of diversity it has.”
“There are all different kinds of cultures and communities coming together,” from tribal students to Hispanic students, and agriculturally minded students who grow up farming, Moreland said.
From her experience working with American students at English language schools abroad, Moreland said diversity leads to exciting conversations in the classroom. Students explore questions such as how we honor the ways we are different and the ways we are the same, she said.
Moreland said she wanted to transition to a leadership position in education because school systems that have leaders that care about the students and innovation create an engaging and positive learning environment. They ask questions like “what will help students be the most passionate about school?” she said.
Both of her parents were teachers, but Moreland had an Advanced Placement English teacher in Grand Junction that also inspired her to become a teacher, she said.
Moreland started teaching in Broomfield after graduating from Colorado State University, but she took a break for a year shortly after and moved to South Korea. When she returned to the U.S., Moreland got her master’s degree in communication studies from CSU as well.
She and her husband both wanted to go abroad again, so they went to a career fair in Iowa and got jobs teaching at the American School of Kuwait.
With the onset of the pandemic, they both decided a foreign city is not the best place to be now, especially with young kids, she said.
But Moreland said Montezuma-Cortez High School is “well placed to be able to adapt” to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, since it has shown itself to be an innovative school.
“We’re really excited to be here,” Moreland said.