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105. Autumn Rivera, 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year Finalist!

We sit down this cold evening to talk with Autumn Rivera, the Glenwood Springs Middle School science and social studies teacher who begins her term as 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year this month! She makes history as the first Colorado Teacher of the Year to become a National Teacher of the Year Finalist in 28 years, and only the 9th in nearly 60 years. Autumn shares her path as a mixed-heritage educator of color, into middle school teaching, authentic service work for youth, solidarity and advocacy in the union, and of course, an amazing top five. An exciting and energetic interview as we learn from a brilliant scholar-activist.

Music composed and performed by Kevin Adams


“It’s Not About Football” Exit Interview Season 2, Episode 1

On December 21, Denverite broke the story that legendary community leader and Montbello/Far Northeast Warriors Coach Tony Lindsay, Sr. would not be invited back to coach football for the newly reunified Montbello High School football program. Despite a winning record that included a recent state championship, building leadership chose not to bring him back.

Coach Lindsay is more than a football coach, and much more than an X’s and O’s guy. He is a mentor, a friend, an elder, and a leader in his community since he began coaching nearly three decades ago. A onetime NFL player who played professionally in Canada, Coach Lindsay’s reputation is sterling in his community.

Asia and Kevin sit with him and hear his story. He shares his emotional journey as he recounts times that he was all some of his players had, and the outcry since the announcement has been deafening. In a time when the Far Northeast community needs every hand on deck to unite the community, this will prove a difficult blow from which to recover.

Listen and remember the value of community-grown leaders.

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Habitually Disruptive Episode 9: #EduCrush’s Natalie Vardabasso

Natalie Vardabasso is one of my favorite education minds and overall cool humans that I’ve been lucky enough to meet. We first connected through Twitter (@natabasso) and we are truly kindred minds. This conversation happened a WHILE ago (shoutout to my doctoral program), but you all need to know her work, no matter how long it’s taken.

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This episode was actually recorded about a week ago, but in the words of the mighty Yasiin Bey IT’LL COME OUT WHEN IT COME OUT AND IT’LL BE FIRE.

Peoples. We made it. We pushed, pulled, or dragged ourselves to the 21-22 school year’s midway point and at the very least we can (should) separate from all things work-related. We hope that this time gives you a chance to slow down and breathe in the joy and relief that comes from community and a new connection with self.

We open with a requiem to the Righteous and Brilliant bell hooks, who we lost just recently. We reflect on which of the hooks teachings that most impacted us, and pour one out for our fallen sister.

Then we reflect on what was, is, and could be the coming days, weeks, months as we keep hope alive.

We love y’all so much, and can’t wait to chop it up on the other side of ’21.

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Habitually Disruptive Episode 8: Luís Antezana of Juntos 2 College

A long time ago, I got a chance to connect with my friend Luis Antezana, former classroom teacher and founder of Juntos 2 College and DACA recipient. Born in Bolivia, Luis has long wanted to provide undocumented students with the resources for post-secondary life, not limited to college, but also in terms of financial literacy, planning, and entrepreneurship.

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Habitually Disruptive 07: Jodi Miller of WellCheq

The state of Colorado recently declared a youth mental health crisis that threatens the capacity of the healthcare system to take care of youth who are hurting. While this may be shocking to the general public, it is not shocking to public school teachers, who are often the first to learn that a young person is struggling with their mental health. This development is particularly not shocking to Jodi Miller, a doctoral candidate and former high school teacher who has developed WellCheq, a revolutionary way to monitor students’ mental health in a way that is safe, non-intrusive, and confidential way that simultaneously lends itself to professional support. Jodi, the soon-to-be Dr. Miller, observed the effects of stress on her students when she taught high school science, and decided to make this her doctoral and life’s work.

Plus possibly the greatest top five in the history of HD Top Fives.

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103. DPS Supah-Intendent Dr. Alex Marrero

This week, we are fortunate to bring you a conversation with Denver Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero! It is unusual to break down the walls between leadership and teachers across the system, but our new supah-intendent is game! Listen to his story, as a kid from the Bronx who became a district leader. Hear what he has to say about staff shortages and teacher evaluations. Hear his Top Five Rappers. But most importantly, hear his two invitations and challenges to us!

Hope everyone has a good week!

102. Come to Community

We’re back this week with some things on our minds. It’s November, but for so many educators, it feels more like February. We are aging and exhausting quickly. In the first segment, we discuss mental health. The struggles, the challenges before us, and what can be done to protect and heal the spirits of teachers, students, and communities. We shout out the professionals doing the important work, but caution that heroism only goes so far. There is a mental health reckoning that we must face.

In the second segment, we discuss another reckoning: the racial one. Using the “two sides of the Holocaust” front of the culture wars, we share ways in which teaching truth and honesty may heal our nation. It is a terrifying time, but we can be a part of this important humanizing work.

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102. Gholdy Muhammad: Artist in the Industry

We are so humbled and blessed to bring you this conversation with the inimitable Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, author of Cultivating Genius, a seminal work in antiracist and abolitionist pedagogy. Dr. Muhammad shares with us a new vision of what teaching may look like. Dr. Muhammad discusses the potential to develop living teaching frameworks, and ways to cultivate genius for ALL students.

A keeper. And a fire top five. Check. It. Out.

Exit Interview 10. Ya Might Win Some with Michael Diaz-Rivera

Michael Diaz-Rivera was a brilliant and respected teacher with a reputation for empowering and inspiring his Black and Latinx students. He rose quickly to prominence for his unapologetic radical love for his community and our children. A frequent advocate and organizer for his professional association, school, and district, Michael was featured in local stories across the city for his tireless advocacy and sacrifice for his communities.

Things went south, as they often do for Black educators. His outspoken nature landed him under thee microscope and he found his former allies turning from him. He departed teaching this summer. The classic Lauryn Hill lyric “ya might win some, but ya just lost one” springs to mind.

Michael will be okay. Maybe even better. But will we?