Teacher honored after 26 years in district
Steamboat Springs — With a welcoming smile that radiates positivity, Tracy Bye tends to a wound on her horse’s leg while speaking from her heart about the past 26 years she spent in the classroom.
A beloved teacher, student advocate, wildlife rescuer and mother, Bye retired from teaching this spring and was honored as Educator of the Year by the Steamboat Springs School District.
“I think that there’s tons of teachers that are way better teachers than me,” Bye said. “But my gift, that I have, is that I connect with people, and I just connected with the kids, no matter if I was teaching math and science or second grade.”
Bye has taught every grade except for fourth, and after moving over to the middle school, she taught sixth grade math and science. In her last four years of teaching, Bye took over what used to be Ann Keating’s “Basic Life Training” course. Following a curriculum change, the course added a finance component and became a health and personal finance class.
“I loved going to the life stuff,” she said, “because so many kids then, when you’re talking about that life stuff, really felt comfortable opening up to you if they needed help or if they had questions.”
Whether it was trouble with friends or bullying, students knew they could count on Bye for support.
“Kids felt open enough to have conversations with her and that enabled us to get them help,” said Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Jerry Buelter. “We pride ourselves in trying to establish relationships with kids, and I think we’re all going to have to pick up the slack a little bit, because she’s done a lot.”
Not only has Bye done a lot for her students but she said they’ve done a lot for her as well. While her retirement will give her more flexibility, she said she’ll miss the people and the connections the most.
“I’ll miss the brightness it brings,” she said, “because sometimes you get worried about your problems or money or something and then I would go to school and some kid would say the funniest thing, and I would say ‘ok, this is so not important to worry about, just get on the lighter side of life.’”
In addition to teaching, Bye is the founder of Born Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Her love for animals and compassion for others has driven her to a lifetime spent caring for others whether it is animals or humans.
“If there was anything she could do for someone else or their well being, that’s just what she would do,” Buelter said.
Although Bye is hesitant to talk about it, her selfless nature has touched many, but perhaps one individual the most.
After being unable to find a matching kidney for their son, a family sent an email to Buelter asking if anyone would be willing to get tested after watching their son struggle for the past eight years. Buelter said he didn’t really expect anyone to donate his or her kidney but was not surprised when he found out that Bye was doing just that.
“You giving it to that person makes their life immediately 100 percent better,” Bye said. “So, I can’t wait to see that and let him live a life that a 28-year-old should live … He’s so great, his energy, his kindness, he’s very spiritual, he’s a great dad, he’s a good husband, and he’s a good son.”
Although finding a match is quite difficult, Bye said she believes this was just one of those “life meant-to-be moments.”
“It’s a pretty big sacrifice,” Buelter said, “but that’s just who she was.”
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