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Five minutes with …

Post Independent Writer

Maggie Riley On a recent trip to Moab, Utah, Bridges High School teacher Maggie Riley got engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Joseph Todd.They were hiking Negro Bill Canyon, and at the end of the hike, under Morning Glory Natural Bridge, Todd proposed. Riley said yes and though she’s not a “frilly marriage” person, she’s very excited to get married. Riley has been a teacher for nine years.

Teacher name: Maggie Marie RileyE-mail address: mriley@rfsd.k12.co.usAge: 33School, grade and subject: Bridges High School, English, creative writing and Socratic seminar teacher, grades 9-12Family information: Lucy, 11-year-old tabby cat

Teaching experience: I have been teaching for the past nine years. I taught eighth grade for the last five years at Rifle Middle School. Before that I taught high school at an inner-city school in Chicago. I have also taught at a Muslim school in Chicago as well as being an English-teacher trainer in Madagascar. Working my way through graduate school at the University of Illinois, I also taught GED classes to women in various communities throughout the city. I have always taught English with the exception of a year of social studies.Why are you a teacher? If you worked in another profession before teaching, why did you change? I have always been a teacher. I am very passionate about making a difference in the world. I could never work at a job that didn’t give me immediate feedback. I have loved working in this valley because so many students come back and thank me, telling me how I have changed their life. I love working with teenagers and seeing minds unfold before me, ideas formulate, people develop. I want to be a part of that. I am easy-going and patient as well as open-minded. I think young people appreciate that in a teacher and mentor.What do you like most about teaching? The students. They are so honest and open. I love that they tell me when something is working and when something is bombing. I love that they don’t hold back. I learn so much about myself through them. I enjoy deep conversation with students and love their passion and energy. I also love the subject matter. I try to find meaningful and relevant things for students to do. I think they need to be educated in many ways, not just academics. They want to be listened to and loved. I enjoy doing these things.What do you do in your free time? Hike, bike, swim, camp, cross country ski, snowboard, read, sing, and see friends and family. Perhaps my favorite thing to do is travel. I am spending half of next summer in Thailand and have been to many places around the globe.What’s your favorite lesson to teach? I love teaching units on tolerance and racism. I have always enjoyed teaching “The Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by MLK. Last year in Rifle we actually had a “lunch counter sit-in” in the classroom. It was amazing! We videotaped it and had costumes and everything. I love challenging students and getting them to think about their beliefs. I think this lesson has changed a lot of minds! You can relate it to so many any other things – world issues, human rights, women’s rights etc.

What was your favorite teacher like? You know there is only one teacher who truly stands out in my mind. Mr. DeGroot, my choir teacher all through high school. He was always there for me and really pushed me. He never doubted me, even when I doubted myself. He gave so much time and effort. He helped me with college auditions and really gave me confidence with my singing and myself.What is something interesting about you that no one else knows? But now lots of people will know! For the past several months I have been going through structural integration, or Rolfing. I am getting it done by this amazing guy in Carbondale. It’s the process of actually changing your fascia the way your carry yourself and live your life. It has been life-changing – I am so much more aware of my body and in touch with life. Not to mention I feel so much better physically.If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be and who would you take with you? I want to eventually visit all the places I possibly can. I love traveling, and choosing one place is impossible. I guess India is really up there on the list. I think the people would be amazing, not to mention the history and the food. I like to travel alone, but I also enjoy going with a friend. I think traveling in a group can get frustrating, so maybe just one other person. I travel very well with my friend Jennifer who lives in Boston. We spent two weeks in Italy last summer and had the time of our lives!What do you miss most about being a kid? I really miss a feeling that I used to get on cool fall evenings. I remember that early evening time, dinnertime, when I would be called inside for our family dinner. The smell of leaves, home cooking, a warm house, a safe place, that dirt smell of little kids when they have been playing outside for hours. The sun setting and my dad making me sit at the kitchen table to finish homework. I miss having no responsibilities. I also miss naps.Each Tuesday the Post Independent will feature a teacher from a private school, Roaring Fork School District Re-1, Garfield School District No. 16 or Garfield School District Re-2. Each Tuesday the Post Independent will feature a teacher from a private school, Roaring Fork School District Re-1, Garfield School District No. 16 or Garfield School District Re-2.


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