Completing a journey of passion and impact in teaching
Judi Holst, a revered and inspiring teacher, recently concluded her 32-year teaching career, leaving behind a legacy of passion and innovation. Reflecting on her remarkable journey, Judi shared experiences and insights that defined her impactful career.
Judi’s path into teaching began in the third grade when her teacher, Mrs. Julie Hey, became a source of inspiration. Influenced by her aunt, also a teacher, Judi’s love for working with children solidified in those early years. “I just loved kids, and there was no changing my mind once I decided in third grade that I wanted to be a teacher,” Judi fondly recalled.
Her dynamic career included teaching kindergarten, second grade and middle school Language Arts and Speech, as well as roles with the gifted and talented program and creating clubs. She also worked as a literacy specialist.
Judi’s teaching career began in an inner-city school in Southern California during the early 1990s. Despite challenges, Judi cherished teaching the younger grades, recalling each student by name. Her move to middle school brought innovative projects, such as an “oral history show” for eighth graders that blended performance, history and community engagement.
Relocating to Colorado with her husband, Paul, Judi played a crucial role on the team of educators who opened Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) in 2003. Her impact extended to designing and leading the Language Arts department and empowering students to author their own books, which later transformed into a book club at RHMS.
Judi’s career was marked by memorable moments, including a powerful unit that included a simulated court trial, where several students went on to pursue legal careers and officiating a wedding for former students. Beyond teaching, Judi actively contributed to the education community through blogging, podcasts and coaching new teachers.
Known for her innovative “Shark Tank” project, Judi integrated pop culture into education, providing students with a unique platform to develop presentation skills and critical thinking abilities.
“She was one of the few teachers who was relatable and got us,” remembered Hutch Wheeler, who had Judi in Language Arts two years ago. “I always looked forward to her class.”
Judi’s teaching style emphasized building strong relationships with students and offering them choices, creating a dynamic and engaging learning environment. She witnessed changes in education policies and advised new teachers to find mentors, discover their teaching style and show genuine passion.
In retirement, Judi looks forward to quality time with her husband, focusing on health, travel and new hobbies. Her post-retirement endeavors can be followed on her blog: judiholst.com, LinkedIn or her former DCSD work email address.
Celebrating Judi’s indelible impact on the education community, we express gratitude for the passion, innovation and dedication she brought to every classroom. We wish Judi a retirement as enriching and fulfilling as her teaching career.
By Nicole Stark; photos courtesy of Judi Holst