Teacher Spotlight

Joe Frey

Online Learning

The classrooms have gone dark, but the spotlight is still shining bright on learning happening in the district. Joe Frey is a teacher who didn't bat an eye when the news came that we needed to close down school to slow the spread of COVID-19, because he has been providing access to online learning for a long time. If you haven't visited the webpage for his classes, www.estesparksteam.com, it is worth the visit! This website was student-created by members in his STEAM class a few years ago. The webpage is a resource for students in his 7th grade science classes and STEAM classes, and also provides resources for all students at the middle school preparing for the annual Science Festival. Web design is one of the many different personalized pathways students can take in the STEAM elective class that he teaches at Estes Park Middle School. STEAM stands for Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics. Other projects students work on are coding, podcasting, robotics, 3D printing, and more.

Global Outcomes

Critical thinking and problem solving is the Global Outcome demonstrated daily in his classes. Mr. Frey explicitly teaches the Design Thinking Process. The design thinking process has 5 stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Mr. Frey allows students to explore their interests and passions in his STEAM classes, and uses the design thinking process to explore solutions to challenges and create new products. In addition, much of the learning students do is collaborative and in many cases they are communicating with community members or organizations within our community. Many students have helped businesses and organizations within our community design web pages or promotional materials. When I visit Mr. Frey's STEAM class, students are excited to speak to me about the projects they are working on and show me what they are learning. It is a thrill to see how excited they are about learning.

Life-Long Learner

In addition to personalizing the learning for the students, Mr. Frey has stretched himself to continue his own learning about teaching strategies he can use to meet the needs of his students developing English. He has been pre-teaching vocabulary, building background knowledge before lessons, and translating all of his materials into Spanish. These efforts have paid off and his mid-year test results are evidence of this. His students demonstrated tremendous growth on the mid-year assessment. When compared to other students in the nation, 74% of his students are scoring above the 50th percentile and 62% of his students were above mean normative growth targets for the mid-year assessment. This is especially true for his Hispanic students (65%), which would include many of his English learners.

Mr. Frey builds learning alliances with his students by challenging them with high expectations, applauding them for their efforts, recognizing them for their accomplishments, and encouraging them to continue. One parent commented, "I am so grateful for how special you made my kid feel yesterday. You made him not only realize his accomplishment was a big deal, but you also made him glow. Thank you!"

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Mr. Frey's doesn't just reserve his talents to the classroom. Mr. Frey organizes Little Shop of Physics to come up to our school from Colorado State University every three years. Students learn about the laws of physics through engaging hands-on experiences. This is offered to all the students in the middle school as well as many high school science classes.

Over the past three years, he has been a leader in planning the all-school field trip for the entire school. The whole school went to the Denver Zoo in 2018. The Museum of Discover in 2019, and this year her organized a trip to The Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Unfortunately the trip this year had to be cancelled, but we are looking forward to the next trip in the future. These great learning experience aren't just for students either. I participated as a chaperone on the field trip last year and learned so much while having a wonderful time with the middle school students. So much planning and hard work goes into these experiences for us all.

We are grateful for you Mr. Frey!

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