Through the eyes of students
By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Kristen Krieger
Looking through the eyes of her kindergarten students, Kristen Krieger sees honesty and innocence in each of her student’s actions and answers. A committed educator and kindergarten teacher at American Academy (AA) with 15 years of classroom experience in the metro Denver area, Krieger embraces these gifts of her students and the joy she shares working with people who love what they do.
Krieger always knew she wanted to work with children. She originally planned to be an advocate for children in the court system. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice from the University of South Dakota. During her senior year as an undergraduate, Krieger had the privilege of completing an internship with a nonprofit that ran a halfway house for homeless teenagers. While her experience was rewarding, she had difficulty compartmentalizing the heavy emotions that the work created. Her empathy and compassion drew her to the work but the emotions she carried made it an unsustainable career choice for her.
In 2004, Krieger and her husband (then fiancé), Matthew, moved to Denver where Krieger took her first job with KidQuest, a before and after school program for Englewood Schools. As supervisor of the program at Charles Hay Elementary, Krieger watched teachers inspire student learning, and it was those teachers that reminded her of the teachers that had a similar impact on her own education. It was then she decided to pursue a master of arts in education psychology at the University of Colorado. Later, she pursued a certificate in linguistically diverse education and her education specialist degree in education leadership.
“I believe my unusual path into teaching was for the best because the experience of the journey is what has made me the teacher I’ve become.”
Krieger has had the privilege to teach first, second, third and fourth grades throughout her career. She does not favor one subject over another, but her favorite method of teaching is to connect all subjects in a common content area. Truly magical moments for Krieger are to see her students light up with delight once she has successfully connected history or science to learning goals focused on literacy and math or to share their “aha” moments.
Growing up on a small farm in rural South Dakota, Krieger has many fond small-town memories which is no surprise that she and her family enjoy the Castle Pines community. Meeting the families of Castle Pines as a parent and as a teacher has created a sense of small-town belonging like the one Krieger grew up with. With no immediate family in the area, the Kriegers surround themselves with people who build up and support one another. Krieger says she loves to watch their children Jack (14) Alex (10) and Kate (7) play sports while cheering on the sidelines. The family enjoys the Colorado great outdoors, youth sports and activities, as well as travel.
Over the years, Krieger has created special bonds with school workers from leaders to janitors – all who speak the same language in wanting to do what is best for the students.