Locals 2007: Ann Coon
Steamboat Springs — Colleagues say Ann Coon can have the same effect on children as Mountain Dew.
Full of spirit, Coon is the full-time Spanish teacher at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools. Coon works with third-, fourth- and fifth-graders for 20 minutes, twice a week.
“She is a great teacher,” said Soda Creek third-grade teacher Sue Barnes. “The kids are definitely learning about Spanish. She has a lot of energy, and we love her.”
Coon attributes the positive response to Spanish with her ability to disguise her teaching through games and physical activity.
“The basis of my curriculum is total physical response storytelling,” Coon said. “We do a lot of learning through actions.”
Consequently, the students want more Spanish.
“I think the kids see my passion,” Coon said. “I think it’s a little bit contagious.”
At the elementary level, Coon works on numbers, colors, dates and common conversational phrases, giving the students a foundation to build on in middle school and high school.
Coon doesn’t have an established home base, so she packs and travels between classrooms, but teachers help by posting Spanish words and calendars on the walls to remind the students to keep refining their Spanish.
“I’m a big second-language advocate – not just Spanish,” said Coon, who is fluent in Spanish, proficient in Portuguese, relatively proficient in Italian and can read French. “Learning a second language amplifies your brain.”
Coon credits the parents of the elementary children for urging the Steamboat Springs School Board to start a Spanish program in 2003. She also credits the district and the School Board for seeing the benefit of a foreign language program in the 21st century.
“This is a skill,” Coon said. “Students can graduate and earn $2 more an hour just because they have a second language.”
– Story by Melinda Mawdsley
Photo by Tyler Arroyo
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