Cawthra uses Adams State College education to educate others

Michael Cawthra '76 knew he wanted to be a teacher since the sixth grade. But he did not start on the teaching path until a visiting professor encouraged him to volunteer at a local school. Before that, Cawthra was majoring in pre-medicine.

"In high school, a counselor told me, 'Teachers are a dime a dozen. Do something else.' So I went off to pre-med, but I wasn't happy," he said.

Volunteering showed Cawthra his true path. He said as soon as he walked into the school he knew he was meant to be a teacher.

Cawthra retired at the end of the 2005/2006 academic year. He spent most of his teaching career at Kyffin Elementary School in Jeffco before transferring to Red Rocks Elementary School in 2001.

Even though he retired, Cawthra still plans to devote his time to education. He will act as a substitute teacher for Red Rocks Elementary School and also plans to begin a storytelling program for the students.

With three decades of experience in education, Cawthra has some advice for future teachers.

"A sense of humor is the biggest thing to keep in the classroom," he said. "If you ever loose that, you are dead. Students respect a person who can tell and listen to funny stories or jokes and still maintain focus on the subject. And secondly, never take yourself too seriously."

Although he graduated from Adams State 30 years ago and made his home in Denver, Cawthra said he fondly remembers the Valley.

"I fell in love with the campus, people, and Alamosa," Cawthra said. "It gets in your blood, and you never really leave the Valley."