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A Love of Learning and dedication to making a difference in the lives of children

Wendy Maier is a teacher, advisor, mentor, theater director—and a lifelong learner

Colorado native and Larkspur resident Wendy Maier loves to learn, and as an instructional assistant at Renaissance Secondary School, she enjoys the privilege of sharing that love with her young students.

“Both my parents were teachers, and they always told me, ‘Don't be a teacher; do something else,’” Wendy says. “And of course, I didn't listen to them. That's what I am.”

Wendy has worked within the Douglas County School District “off and on” for 20 years and has been a paraprofessional at Renaissance Secondary School since it opened in 2017.

“I came on as what they call the communications facilitator; I worked side by side with a deaf teacher who we had for the first two years, helping with the communication needs between the teacher and the students. When she moved on to other things, I stayed, and so my title at the school is instructional assistant.”

“Instructional assistant” seems to be a bit of a misnomer for all that Wendy contributes to the school and its students. “I do a little bit of everything,” she says. “I mostly support teachers in the classroom, and I'm what they call an advisor.” That means she keeps up with 16 eighth graders and 30 seniors.

“It's like a homeroom,” Wendy explains. “It's the class where the kids go every single day, no matter what other classes they have. With the eighth graders, we play games and do a lot of team building, and we talk about hard subjects, then we work on homework and all the fun things. I'm that person who is with them every day.

“With seniors, I'm helping them with resumes, college applications and scholarships, how to get through their senior year and how to juggle life and school and all that.”

Wendy also co-teaches the senior capstone class. “We help the kids do their capstone project, which is like a passion project that takes them the whole year to get through.” Oh, and she also teaches X-Blocks [short for Exploration Block], which, Wendy says, “are the elective classes. Every quarter, I teach a different X-Block. Right now, I'm teaching photography. Last quarter, I taught storytelling and monologues. I’ve taught improv, sketching, art journaling, and American sign language. The wonderful thing about Renaissance is it allows the staff and teachers to pick something they're interested in, and then build a curriculum around it in a way to teach it to others. And we have fun with the students learning something new together.”

This year, Wendy also took on the role of Theater Director after the previous Director left the school. With a background in theater and music, it was a great fit at a time when the theater students feared the end of the program. “The theater kids panicked,” Wendy remembers. “And I said, ‘Oh guys, we'll figure it out. I'll make it happen, don't worry about it.’” Wendy had never directed a stage production alone, but she committed to take it on—because that’s what her students asked of her.

“I'm all about the relationships and connections I make with these kids. I like to have the conversations with them and help them figure out who they are,” Wendy says. “If I can be that one person for them, the one who really listens to them, I see them give it back and so many ways. If I can be that one person for even one student, then that's it for me.”

“I'm all about the relationships and connections I make with these kids. I like to have the conversations with them and help them figure out who they are,” Wendy says. “If I can be that one person for them, the one who really listens to them, I see them give it back and so many ways. If I can be that one person for even one student, then that's it for me.” —Wendy Maier