Mark Elliot: Bringing Classrooms to Life

Mark Elliot: Bringing Classrooms to Life
Posted on 10/27/2023

Mark Elliot, a social studies teacher at Mountain Ridge Middle School, worked in the financial services arena and studied psychology before becoming an educator. He now brings his diverse life experiences to his classroom. It’s Mark’s ninth year at Mountain Ridge and his twenty-third year of teaching. Although for years he was told by friends he would become a teacher just like his mom, he didn’t automatically turn to education as a career.

Mark earned his psychology degree from Colorado State University and then moved to Dallas where he worked in the hospitality industry and took on various jobs. After moving back to Colorado, he got his teaching certification and taught at a school in Aurora. Then a new opportunity presented itself and Mark became a stockbroker. 

“I felt like I was in my wheelhouse,” Mark said. “For 15 years I used my talents as a teacher and a trainer. It was a great fit. Then September 11th happened, and I got laid off.” 

Mark returned to teaching, with a stop in Aurora before landing at Mountain Ridge Middle School, where he said there’s never a dull day.

“I enjoy bringing kids from where they are to where they can be,” Mark said. “In middle school, kids are trying things for the first time. Kids are still malleable and I believe I can positively impact them. I remember what it was like to be 13. I was the clumsy kid. I was smart but I didn’t want to present myself as a smart kid. I was awkward.” 

Connecting with students is his priority both inside and outside the classroom. Mark coaches co-ed flag football, wrestling, and track.   

“My most important client is that student sitting in front of me,” said Mark. “I’ve worked hard to become a better listener. And because of this, my students feel like they have a voice. That improves the teacher/student relationship.” 

Mark shared a recent encounter with a former student who is now a freshman at Mountain Vista High School. 

“She stopped by to say that I changed her outlook on school and that it’s okay to mess up,” he said.

white boardMark embraces FAIL: First Attempt In Learning. He believes having a mentor is vitally important for those new to the classroom and that DCSD teachers are encouraged to experiment with new programs and methods that spark critical thinking. 

Among other topics, Mark teaches the U.S. Constitution. He created a passport booklet to help students journey through it. Former students tell him that they still have their passports.

“I feel fortunate that I’m in a district that allows me to take risks to succeed,” he said. “And I love that there are lots of opportunities to grow within DCSD. It’s my second year in the Teacher Connect Program. We meet monthly to share ideas. I find this very useful. I especially like the frankness and genuine nature of Superintendent Erin Kane. She wants to know what we think and what we see. It’s nice to feel heard.”

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