How popular is Coronado? 14 alumni now on Westside high school's staffA phenomenon has been occurring at Coronado High School in recent years.
The kids keep coming back.
Out of the 127 teachers, administrators and office staffers, 14 of them are Coronado graduates.
At the top of the list is Principal Darin Smith (1990), who was previously a chemistry teacher and assistant principal before becoming principal in 2014.
Perhaps the most unique are mother and daughter Kelly and Jordan Sveen. The family ties run deep, with both also owning homes near each other.
The flood tide of alumni staffers especially hit over the past three years, during which half of the 14 were hired. Five have been brought on since Smith became principal.
Asked if the school puts a value on applicants for staff positions who are alumni, Smith answered in the affirmative. “They know what the culture is and want to be part of that,” he said.
Based on interviews with the staffers, that culture often involves deep school, family and Westside ties.
The percentage of alumni staffers at a school is not a common educational statistic, but at least Coronado's situation does not appear to be a record. A school in the New Orleans area of Louisiana recently reported 24 such teachers (36 percent of the total), according to an online news article.
Below are individual capsules on Coronado-alumni staffers, starting with Smith, followed by the other 13 in alphabetical order:
Class of 1990. Returned in 2005; principal since 2014; also chemistry teacher (2005-2010) and assistant principal (2010-2014).
Smith said he wanted to come back because “I had a great experience as a student, having teachers and coaches invest in me throughout my time."
His wife Tatjana (Sanders) graduated in the same class. The 1990 yearbook deemed them the class's “Most Athletic” boy and girl. Smith enjoys noting his family's involvement in Coronado sports, including his playing football and Tatjana being a member of the 1988 state-title volleyball team. Then, in 2013, two of his sons were on the state-winning football squad and a daughter was on the state runner-up volleyball team.
A long-time Coronado staffer, William Richardson, had been Smith's biology teacher in his senior year and also his track coach. When Smith came back to Coronado in '05, the two became chemistry-instructing colleagues. Now he's his old teacher's supervisor. “It's the best story a principal can tell,” Smith grinned.
Class of 2005. Returned in 2014; teaches history and helps coach wrestling. As a Cougar student, he was a three-time state wrestling champion.
"There are some people I immensely respect that I wanted to work with, such as Coach [Doug] Hugill, Mr. [Darin] Smith and Coach [Matt] Brickell," Burak said. "I wanted to be able to help with the quality wrestling program and see kids' lives at this school positively impacted."
Burak said he likes to go by Hugill's classroom "at least a couple of times a week to just watch, and everytime I leave encouraged, having learned something, and often laughing at some joke!"
Class of 1983. Returned in 2003; teaches physical education and health. In his senior-year football season (1982), the team took second place at state - the closest the team ever came until the 2013 state title. He also was on the basketball and track teams (triple-jumper). His ensuing triple-jump achievements at Adams State University earned him a place this year in that school's Hall of Fame.
"I have lived on the Westside my entire life so I have strong ties to it," Christensen said.
Asked about funny stories related to being an alumni teacher, he noted that "the students enjoy making fun of my high school basketball picture with short shorts."
Class of 2001; returned in 2007; teaches chemistry and science subjects. As a student, he played soccer; now he's the men's varsity head coach and women's JV.
He previously student-taught with Darin Smith, and he now works with his former science teachers/coaches William Richardson and Matt Brickell.
Wendy Foos (Chambon)
Class of 1988. Returned in 2013; teaches art and digital photography.
In her school days, she was captain of the varsity cheerleading squad. "I'm a third generation Westsider," she said. "My uncle, Clarion Chambon, owned the original Surplus City. My grandfather Glenn Chambon, was his 'right-hand' man. They ran Surplus City for 38 years before my uncle's death.
"My grandfather, father and myself all went to West Junior High School. Now my son, Beau Foos, is a junior at Coronado. While my father graduated from Palmer in 1968, his younger brother and sister were among the first to graduate from Coronado.
"My husband, Colby Foos, was on the 1987 state champion hockey team. Now, he's the assistant hockey coach and our son is the starting goalie."
Class of 1989. Returned in 2005; teaches business education. "This is a community," Gryboski said. "It's fantastic. My children will attend Coronado."
He mentioned two teachers he valued from his student days who are still at the school: Dr. Moore (business law) - "I'm still using some of the skills he taught me"; and William Richardson - he taught me 'mental toughness' in track practice and that has helped me more than anything."
Class of 1996. Returned in 2002; teaches choir.
After teaching at Challenger Middle School in District 20, Hodur said that he was "invited and encouraged" to apply for the position by Michael Merrifield (now a state senator), who had been his choir teacher at Coronado.
What Hodur finds "interesting" now is that "all my friends, who still live on the Colorado Springs Westside are sending their children to CHS and are in my classes."
Class of 1997. Returned in 2002; teaches social studies (including U.S history). In his senior year, he was student president.
"It's been great," Kane said about coming back. "I'm teaching my favorite subject and helping coach my favorite sports (track and cross-country).
"It was a tad awkward at the beginning and trying to justify calling former teachers by their first name, but it has allowed me to develop wonderful relationships."
Class of 2006. Returned this year; teaches social studies.
He had played linebacker on the Coronado football team. He's now an assistant football coach and was part of the staff in 2013 when Coronado won state.
"I loved the school and community so much I wanted to come back," Lobato said. "It's nice to come back to my old neighborhood." But there is one thing he's been encountering: "Faculty members still think I'm a student in the hall."
Stacy Megyeri (Davis)
Class of 1983. Returned in 2014; administrative secretary.
In her senior year at Coronado, she was prom queen and most valuable player in girls basketball.
Megyeri was formerly on the staff in the Manitou Springs School District as well as at Woodland Park High School.
Why did she return to the high school from which she graduated?" I needed a change," she said. "I love Coronado."
Class of 1980. Returned in March 2014; detention supervisor. She'd previously worked in before/after school care at Jackson (one of Coronado's feeder elementaries).
"I was born and raised on the Westside," she said. "I have cousins, a brother, nieces and nephews who all went to Coronado." As for her immediate family, "I was at Jackson when my two children started school," she said. "I'll be at Coronado when they both graduate" (son, last May; and daughter, 2016). "Once a Cougar, always a Cougar!"
Class of 2009. Returned in 2014; teaches FACS (Family & Consumer Sciences).
As a student, she played volleyball and tennis and was a member of the state champion ProStart FACS team.
A Colorado Springs native, "I love the city and everything it has to offer, including Coronado," Jordan said. "It has a strong community and great teachers who actually inspired me to pursue teaching."
Regarding the adjustment to teaching at her old school, "it is really difficult to not refer to your collegues as Mr. or Mrs. when you first had them as a teacher," she said. "I also found a seating chart with my name on it from when I was attending Coronado in the office I now work in."
Kelly Sveen (Sprouse)
Class of 1979. Returned in 2002; accounting assistant and athletic secretary.
“Coronado was/is a great school!” she said. “I'm a Westsider. I built a house one block over from where I grew up. I'm here to stay.”
She's also “excited” that her daughter Jordan is also on the staff at Coronado (see above), although their jobs are in different parts of the school. “It's a great opportunity for her to be a teacher here,” Kelly said, “and it's a great school to be at.”
Class of 2009. Returned in 2014; teaches mathematics. While a student, he made all-state orchestra (French horn) and was a national merit semifinalist.
He wanted to come back because “the school is a special place for me, and I hope to help it have a similar impact on current students.”
He likes the way things have worked out so far. “I am incredibly grateful for the support I have received during my first year here. My administration has regularly checked in to make sure I am getting the assistance I need. My entire department has consistently been there to offer advice, suggestions and praise.”
Some of his fellow teachers "have mentioned to their current classes that I used to be a student of theirs,” Yeh said. “Some tell stories about when I was at Coronado. This has led to some fun conversations with students!”
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