Grad’s Construction Fascination Shapes Career

DCHS Grad’s Fascination with Construction Laid the Foundation for Her Career
Posted on 02/26/2024

After graduating from Douglas County High School (DCHS) in 2011, Katie Van Kooten attended the South Dakota School of Mines on a women’s golf scholarship, while earning a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. 

Following college Katie began a career in construction management. After working for general contractors across the country, she settled into working as a construction manager for various school districts in the Denver area, managing capital improvement projects for bond initiatives. 

Katie’s K12 career includes working for a number of school districts, with her current role where she oversees the construction of BEST Grant school construction projects in the southeastern portion of the state for the Colorado Department of Education's Division of Capital Construction. 

Aside from her family, her proudest, post-graduation achievement, is being involved in the construction of new K12 educational facilities and improving existing facilities to better enhance the learning environment and opportunities for students throughout Colorado.  

Katie Van Kooten on the golf course

Reflecting on her high school years, one of Katie’s most fond memories is her involvement in golf and making the varsity girl’s team at DCHS. 

“I vividly remember golfing at some of the best golf courses in the Denver area that I otherwise would not have a chance to play due to various membership/green fee restrictions or requirements. I ultimately earned a women's golf scholarship to golf at a collegiate level. I attribute the sports options offered by DCSD to the unique opportunity to golf at a collegiate level,” said Katie. 

Katie says that it’s ironic that she graduated from college with a degree in Engineering since science and math were not necessarily her forte in high school. Perhaps it was Katie’s fascination with the construction of Castle View High School when she attended Castle Rock Middle School that piqued her interest. Then when she attended DCHS the district was constructing the new gym on campus. Katie says she was mesmerized by the progress each time she walked to class between the north and south buildings. 

“I’m confident that my association with each of these experiences introduced me to the concept of K-12 school construction. To this day, I remain grateful to the voters who passed the bond initiative to fund the projects that ignited a spark and laid the foundation leading to my eventual career,” said Katie.

“I believe one lesson learned about myself during high school was that with discipline, dedication, perseverance, and commitment toward continual improvement, just about any dream can be accomplished,” she said.

Katie Van Kooten in the construction workplace

Katie says the most remarkable contribution from DCSD's talented teachers and support staff was the staff members who invested additional non-instructional and sometimes personal time towards her academic success. 

“I recall a particular math teacher who would spend countless additional hours whether it be during advisement or before/after school hours to teach concepts in a way that clicked to ensure that I was truly able to grasp concepts. This teacher gave me the vote of confidence to pursue a STEM degree,” she said.

Katie’s husband is a Legend High School graduate and they are raising their two boys in DCSD.

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