Spreading the love of literacy throughout Summit School District
There are a lot of things that Nancy Beresford is going to miss about teaching at Silverthorne Elementary. After 15 years as a literacy resource teacher for the Summit School District, Beresford has a lot of good memories to look back on during her retirement.
“I’ve always enjoyed teaching and always had great schools,” Beresford said.
Love of learning
Even at a young age, Beresford knew that school was something she loved. The list of names of all the beloved and inspirational educators of her past is too long to recite and she claims to never have had a bad educational experience.
“I always knew I wanted to be with children,” she said. “I just knew I wanted to be a teacher from when I was in elementary school. I had great teachers, always enjoyed school, always loved learning. I still love learning.”
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Beresford vacationed to Colorado throughout her childhood. Her father, a Denver native, never gave up his love of his home city. That love transferred to his daughter and Beresford decided to attend the University of Denver. All of the teaching she has ever done has taken place in Colorado.
Beresford holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in deaf education as well as special education certification. She began her teaching career in the Aurora public school system, working as an itinerant teacher of the deaf for seven years. For the next four years she taught third grade, also in Aurora.
From there, Beresford moved to the Littleton area, and for the next five years taught kindergarten, fifth grade and special education.
During this time, Beresford was a weekend warrior, driving to Summit County to be with her husband, a Breckenridge resident since the early ‘70s. Finally, 15 years ago, she made the move permanent.
“It was a dream come true,” she said of her move to Summit County, “to have the family under one roof.”
Both of Beresford’s children went through the Summit school system, to graduate from Summit High School. Beresford said she has enjoyed the friendly community aspect of the district, particularly at Silverthorne Elementary.
Beresford’s enthusiasm for her schools literary programs quickly becomes evident as she lists event after event, from reading marathons to book fairs, which she has been involved in throughout the years.
“It’s a great job, it’s wonderful,” she said.
As a Literacy Resource Teacher (LRT), Beresford’s job is to supplement the classroom learning, offering additional support to teachers and staff. She will meet with children from kindergarten to fifth grade, both inside and outside the classroom, usually in small groups, to work on their literacy skills. Younger children work on understanding the “code” of reading — how the letters form together to make sounds and words — while older children work more on reading comprehension. Having taught at the various learning levels, Beresford has experience she can draw on, although she says it’s impossible to choose a favorite age group.
“I’ve always enjoyed everything that I’ve been given as far as teaching,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed being with kids, working with staff.”
For Beresford, every day is made up of special moments with the students, from their first attempts to their later triumphs.
“It’s that day-to-day learning that, I think, excites us as teachers,” she said.
As an example, she recounts a moment recently when working with a second-grader.
“We’re in the middle of a lesson and he just looks up and says, ‘I just love words!’”
She smiles at the memory.
“Surely that child earlier would have great hesitation and now he has that confidence that he can do it, and that’s what’s exciting.”
May is a fun time of year, she continued, because it showcases the transition and accomplishments the students have made since the first day. It’s especially apparent in the third-graders, she said, who are making that leap to greater comprehension.
“It’s terrific to see the progress and the nice transition they make,” she said.
One of the things that she admits she will miss most is the collaboration with the students’ families. As the LRT, she sits in on parent-teacher conferences and often consults with family members on ways to work with the children outside of school.
“I’m going to miss the families and the students here in Silverthorne,” she said. “We get to know the children each year they’re here at our schools. I’m going to miss their smiles.”
Staying in touch
After her students, Beresford is most enthusiastic about the colleagues she’s worked with these past 15 years. This includes not only the staff at Silverthorne Elementary, but her fellow district LRTs as well, who meet professionally on a regular basis.
“There’s a great sense of community,” she said.
Fortunately, Beresford plans on sticking around Summit County, for this summer and for many years to come. That will make it easy for her to stay in touch with her colleagues, as well as enjoy the outdoors.
“This summer I’m hoping to spend as much time as possible outside,” she said.
She’s going to work on teaching herself to relax, and hopes to stay involved in the community and do some volunteer work in the future. She’s ready to start planning the new chapter in her life.
“I have to learn how to relax,” she said with a laugh, “and find things to do. That’s kind of exciting.”
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