Ryan Conrad

Director
BA,  Secondary Education, Social Sciences and Special Education, Western State University
MEd, Bilingual Multicultural Education, Northern Arizona University
MEd, Secondary Social Sciences, Northern Arizona University 

About Me

 

My life does not make sense without teaching. Being an educator is at the core of my being. My teaching career began when I was five years old with my younger brother as my first student. It has been a journey of joy and wonder ever since.

I am a proud Colorado native and feel honored to serve the students and communities of this great state. I was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, and graduated from Arapahoe High School in 1997, my life transformed by many great teachers along the way. I completed my undergraduate degree at Western State University and received my teaching certificate in secondary social sciences and special education in 2002 and fell deeply in love with the mountains and the beauty of our state. I then moved to Glenwood Springs where I spent four wonderful years as a Special Education Teacher at Glenwood Middle School. Desiring more education and learning opportunities I moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, where I completed graduate work from 2006-2008, earning two masters degrees at Northern Arizona University, one in Bilingual/Multicultural Education, the other in Secondary Social Sciences.

Missing my family and friends and the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, I began looking for opportunities back home and with great fortune was given the opportunity to help found this new and amazing charter school. Upon returning to Colorado I became one of three founding teachers at The Early College of Arvada teaching social studies and managing our Exceptional Student Services program for my first four years here at ECA. I then accepted the position of Assistant Director in 2012 as we charted the school towards further growth and expansion and then moved into the position of Dean of Student Services in 2015 as our school continued to grow and prosper. When our former Director stepped down at the end of the 2015-16 school year, I was honored and excited to be given the opportunity to step into that role and I look forward to leading ECA into the future.

I currently reside in Louisville, Colorado with my beautiful wife and my two young sons, the joys of my life.

Why I Teach

In my heart, I have always been an educator and have committed my life to learning so that I may help provide a meaningful education to others. Our young people are our greatest resource and must be cultivated mindfully and with great enthusiasm. The future hangs in the balance. The ability to have a meaningful impact on young people has given my life meaning and brings me immense joy each and every day.

I firmly believe that learning has to begin with the experiences of the student and must address the issues that are relevant in their lives. Students must see meaning in what they are learning in order to develop the intrinsic motivation necessary to undertake the challenging process of learning. It is my experience that when students actively construct knowledge it is more meaningful and more permanent than knowledge that is simply transmitted to them without sufficient rationale or depth. When they have choice in the classroom they are forced to make decisions and take responsibility, which in my mind are the most critical skills they can learn in order to become independent thinkers and active members of civic society. Likewise, it is essential to provide adequate opportunities for students to develop the creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, and social skills that they will need to be successful in the twenty first century.

A true student centered approach must also recognize students as knowledge-makers and intelligent moral beings capable of grappling with complex ethical issues. We must always encourage students to explore and clarify their ideas, build off of their prior knowledge, and develop effective metacognitive learning skills so that education truly becomes a vehicle for empowerment and liberation. Honoring students similarly means engaging students with the pressing issues of their time in a way that allows them to construct meaningful understandings of their social and moral world, aids them in their process of discovering their identity, and helps them to empathize with the perspectives of others. This recognition is especially acute for social studies educators whom are responsible for equipping students with the analytical skills that they will need to make the critical decisions that will shape our future.