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Colorado Teacher of the Year - 2000

Craig Cogswell
Westminster High School
Westminster 50 School District

Craig Cogswell, Westminster High School

Craig Cogswell
Westminster High School

Craig Cogswell has been a social studies teacher at Westminster High School for over 25 years. During that time he has consistently taught US History, Geography, and Western Civilization, as well as a variety of other subjects. He has served as a class and club sponsor, been a member of the building council and school accountability advisory committee, and the technology committee.

Craig teaches because he enjoys working with young people, especially high school students. He likes sharing their growing lives, "feeding" off their energy, and watching the "light bulb" go on as they discover the world.

Craig’s primary goal as a teacher is to get students to think. He knows they must be able to explain and understand how and why things happen, to take a stand on an issue and support their thinking, to figure out connections and relationships. He firmly believes that students learn by doing and that variety encourages motivation. Every day students in his classroom are asked to engage in activities to learn a fact, practice a skill, or understand a concept.

To Craig teaching is about making a connection between teacher and student. A relationship of mutual respect and caring fosters motivation and success. Craig works hard to develop relationships with students that go beyond helping with assignments and collecting class work. His goal is to be able to relate to each student as a person as well as a learner. Some former students have become lifelong friends.

Craig has been involved in the standards movement in Colorado since its infancy. His classroom activities focus on moving toward and achieving the standards for each class. Standards provide goals for both student and teacher as they move together through the process of education.

Craig has also worked on curriculum development at the classroom, school, district and state levels. He has taught classes and workshops for teachers in curriculum development, study skills, technology, and geography.

His very active involvement in the Colorado Geographic Alliance has helped him interact with other educators, share ideas, and gain new directions as a teacher. Attending and teaching at the Alliance Summer Geography Institutes have been a highlight of his career.

Craig presents on:

  • teaching with standards — ideas and processes for living with state and district standards
  • the value of teachers — the single most important link in the education process
  • student-centered classrooms — finding ways to engage students in their learning
  • thoughts about education — a teacher’s point of view about what’s important and what’s not

Craig, on teaching and on learning:

"I have two philosophies that guide my education of students. One is ‘you get what you expect.’ I believe that asking and expecting students to consistently do good and worthwhile work results in better performance and, hopefully, greater learning.

"The other philosophy is, ‘treat students like human beings.’ If a problem develops with a student in the classroom or if a student isn’t performing as I think they should, I always begin the conversation by asking them, person to person, what they think the problem is and what suggestions they might have for its solution. Often an honest conversation is enough to head off discipline problems or help a student get back on track."

Craig Cogswell
Westminster High School
4276 West 68th Avenue
Westminster, CO 80030

For additional information about this program please contact Kim Burnham at: