Through an Open Door
Elizabeth Miner was unhappy. Then she seized an opportunity for a new life.
By Doug McPherson
Publish Date: June 23, 2015
Photo: Dave Neligh
Elizabeth Miner (B.S. education ’06) felt empty. She was 26 and working at Denver’s Oxford Hotel in the catering department.
“I was unhappy and didn’t have any real direction for a career,” Miner said.
Then, she said, she found her compass — in the form of education. As she started considering schools, Miner came across MSU Denver. “I wanted something I would be proud of and that would make me a better person and I realized education was the way toward that goal,” she said. “I view education as a door you can walk through and learn to use your strengths to have an impact and to help others.”
For Miner, the calling was to become a physical education teacher. She earned her K-12 Colorado physical education teacher license in 2006. And just eight years later, she was named the 2014 Colorado Teacher of the Year.
“My passion for being fit and healthy is contagious. I want people to live happy, healthy lives. I love what I do. I couldn’t have picked a better profession and I couldn’t be happier. Teaching is one of the most important jobs in our society. We are creating the future,” she said. Miner considers her time at MSU Denver pivotal. “The professors gave me the confidence to start and succeed as a teacher,” she said.
And succeed she has. The teacher of the year award “made me proud because I got recognized as someone who makes an impact on students,” she said. “Other than the reward from our students’ hard work and success, teachers don’t get much recognition. This award gave me a voice to ensure our students get the best education.”
The honor allowed Miner to rub elbows with some important folks, including President Obama, when she traveled to Washington, D.C., for the National Network of State Teachers of the Year Conference. “We didn’t chat long, but he told me I had a really cool job,” she said.
Miner also spoke to the president’s education committee about the importance of keeping physical education programs in schools.
Today she teaches at Fitzsimmons Middle School in Bailey — part of the Platte Canyon School District — and occasionally drops by MSU Denver to talk to students about teaching as a career.
Miner’s teaching philosophy centers on creating a relevant, engaging, rigorous and diverse learning environment where she can hold her students to high expectations so they can be productive citizens.
“My students are amazing. They work hard, they show compassion and empathy, and they’re destined to go far in life and change the world,” she said.
Yes, just like their teacher.
Read Elizabeth Miner’s blog, “A Colorado Teacher’s Journey.”