CASTLE ROCK - Neil Reese works in a school where kids are not students. They are crew on a learning adventure. And, he does not subscribe to the adage, "Those who cannot do - teach."
"It's building confidence to say, I can do more than I thought I could," Reese said.
He is a 4th grade teacher at the Renaissance Magnet School in Castle Rock. This is an expeditionary learning, Outward Bound school where students build their character and academic knowledge by challenging themselves.
"With an expedition, we want them to be curious about their world," Reese said.
As an example, he is leading a group of 11 teachers and one principal on the Ragnar Relay, a 200-mile run through the mountains.
"We're placing ourselves outside of our comfort zone," Reese said. "Many of our teachers are not avid runners."
That includes one principal.
"I'm not a runner," Deborah Lemmer, principal, said. "The only reason I could come up with was because I was afraid. So, I thought, I guess, it's time for me to push myself and do this, too."
Lemmer is assigned to run 12 miles. Before training, she never ran more than one mile.
"As teacher, we always want to be inspiration to our students," Lemmer said.
Reese says this will prove to students that they truly believe what they preach in the classroom about struggling and overcoming challenges.
"We're not in this to win a medal or anything like that," Reese said. "We're just in it to prove to ourselves that - Hey, we can do something we thought was impossible."
Lauren Gunn is a 2nd grade teacher. Before starting to train for this race last year, she says she could not run more than a mile. Now, she has already run two half-marathons.
"I've lost about 20 pounds," Gunn said.
The race starts Friday morning and will last through Saturday afternoon. It stretches from Breckenridge to Aspen. Reese will take on 22 miles of that run. He says his toughest stretch will be running through the woods at about 1:00 a.m. with a headlamp.
"It's okay for me as a teacher, as an adult to be scared of something," Reese said. "That's when you're going to grow. And, that's what we want students to do. Challenge yourself to do something that you didn't do yesterday."
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