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Eldorado principal aims to empower children in responsive environment

Katy Kollasch

HIGHLANDS RANCH – When entering the Eldorado Elementary building in west Highlands Ranch, it does not take long for visitors to discover a uniqueness about the school culture that starts with the very warm, polite and inviting principal, Katy Kollasch. 

While Kollasch is disarming with her British accent and hospitality, she possesses a great clarity of purpose and commits herself to the needs of the 561 students, and their parents, who depend on her leadership and knowledge. This dedication to leadership and teaching stems from working within the Douglas County School District at the high school level – first at Mountain Vista in 2004 and then at ThunderRidge High School in 2009. 

Q & A with Katy Kollasch

If you had the opportunity to pursue another career, what would you choose?
A lawyer or an interior designer.

Advice for a college graduate entering field of teaching: 

  • This is absolutely THE best career in the world...
  • Remember that the students with which you are working are children entrusted to you each day by their parents - this is a huge responsibility and every child should be treasured as if they were your own
  • Education is tough, dynamic and unpredictable - get a helmet...
  • 'By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail' (Benjamin Franklin). 

Who inspires you?
I find inspiration in everything and everyone.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be? 
A 'thicker skin', the ability to 'switch off', or the talent to play the piano! 

What is the last book you read? 
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Bradberry and Greaves and China Dolls by Lisa See.

What movie have you seen recently that left a lasting impression with you?
Unbroken, American Sniper and The Good Lie.

Who do you believe will be remembered for their impact on society during the early 21st century?
Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking

Are you a cat or dog person?
Dog.

What was your first car? 
A red Renault 5.

Favorite Colorado getaway?
For the weekend: Breckenridge, Estes Park, Beaver Creek.
For the day: Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls.

Favorite place to eat breakfast?
The Pancake House (Greenwood Village), Lucille's (Boulder) or Syrup (Downtown Denver).

Favorite quote?
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,  but people will never forget how you made them feel." (Maya Angelou).

An innate sense of addressing the needs of the whole child began to develop when Kollasch was a 16-year-old volunteer in elementary schools, among special needs children and at-risk youth. She would soon find that in every area of study, whether textiles, nutrition, or design, she was meant to be a teacher.

After earning her teaching certificate from the University of Cardiff, Wales, Kollasch wanted to combine travel with teaching, so she applied for the Visiting International Faculty Program. Acceptance in the program resulted in a teaching job in North Carolina. Upon fulfilling that role, Kollasch returned to England to reapply for her visa to continue teaching, and subsequently, landed in Colorado. 

Her work ethic, compassion and creative approach to addressing the issues of children and their families led her to the role of principal at Eldorado Elementary School in 2013. 

“The children that arrive at school each day are shaped by a combination of their genetics and their environments. Their approach to academics, their behavior, and the strategies they use to navigate every day life give insight into how they can reach their potential academically, socially and emotionally. It is not for us to judge, but to empower, helping a child find their 'voice' and feel valued.” 

Kollasch cites the sense of family, and more specifically the Eldorado PRIDE program for the success of the school. Every day, in every classroom, students take part in the program, which has been specifically designed to meet the needs of every child at Eldorado. 

Recently, aromatherapy dough was used to address the sensory integration needs of students. This simple dough helped students to increase their level of focus, and was used as a calming agent for students demonstrating anxiety. School staff also use cognitive techniques to help students with their academic efforts including "Brain Gym" and "Go Noodle" to help students with memory and focus.

Kollasch felt a profound sense of accomplishment during the May 2014 launch of the inaugural Eldorado Summer Festival.  A large contingent of students, teachers, parents, neighbors and local vendors joined together to celebrate the school, and the accomplishments achieved during Kollasch’s first year at the helm. After a year of hard work and challenges, Kollasch was pleasantly surprised by the show of support. 

“The whole day only served to reinforce our school mission: ‘To be the center of a vibrant, enjoyable, growing community, where our emphasis is the unique development of our children within a safe, dynamic and responsive learning environment.’ It takes a village, and Eldorado's is the most invested you'll find!”

 

February 3, 2015 | By SCPaulsen | Category: Elementary Education

District News

DCSD Faculty Art Show goes through Nov. 1

It is easy to see the creativity of Douglas County School District students. It is often on display in the art that graces the walls and display cases of our schools. This month, however, is a chance to see the skill and the passion of the art teachers behind it all.

 

Last spring she was one of only eight teachers to be honored with the Freddie G award. The award came with a trip to New York for master classes taught by industry professionals. She also led a trip to Sacramento for the Junior Theater Festival with seven of her students. To top it off she was given a $5000 grant for the school’s theater program. She plans on using the money to build a technical theater learning lab with the help of her students.

Kim working with a student

The award wasn't a surprise to anyone at Rocky Heights Middle School except for Kim Chlumsky herself.