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Former Ram recognized for positive teaching

January 22, 2009

CSU alumnus Mike Mackenzie, '01, uses his education and past experiences to win "Teacher of the Year" at Olander Elementary. Now he's in the race to become "Teacher of the Year" for the Rotary Club of Fort Collins.


In 2001, Mackenzie graduated CSU with a degree in health and exercise science with a concentration in education. He also played defensive tackle for the Rams football team.

After graduation

Mackenzie spent two years as a free agent for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, trying to make the team. After suffering from a high ankle sprain against the Miami Dolphins and an injury to his left shoulder, he returned to CSU.

Mackenzie worked as a graduated assistant football coach under former CSU Coach Sonny Lubick and Coach Jon Benton for one season then became a full time academic advisor for the athletic department.

Looking for the right fit

As he worked, Mackenzie took graduate courses and applied for teaching positions throughout the Poudre School District.

He currently teaches physical education to children in kindergarten all the way up to the 6th grade at Olander Elementary. Mackenzie describes his students as smart, hard working, and well behaved individuals who are excited to learn.

“Others who apply within the district on a regular basis find out that competition for teaching jobs can be fierce. I was lucky because I served as a student teacher at Olander prior to the job opening, so I had become familiar to folks who worked there. It was a natural fit,” Mackenzie says.

Being a local

Mackenzie, his wife, and son call Fort Collins home.

“I stayed in Fort Collins because it feels like a healthy place to start and raise a family. There are other places we could make it at, but not many others to be called home,” says Mackenzie.

The award

Olander’s principal, Brian Olver, nominated Mackenzie for the school's "Teacher of the Year." The award is opened to all teachers and only nine were nominated. Mackenzie was honored with the award last month.

Mackenzie has also won "Teacher of the Month" from the Rotary Club of Fort Collins and is currently in running for their "Teacher of the Year" award, which will be announced during the spring or early fall.

Kids grow up so fast

Learning from your mistakes is a lesson that Mackenzie emphasizes on, as it is a major message he has taken from his past.

“Playing football taught me a lot about adversity and failure and learning from your trials. I constantly remind my students about this because they are in an awkward stage where failing seems like the end of the world,” says Mackenzie.

Using his past

Playing for the Rams has made in impact on the Mackenzie’s understanding of how to coach a child.

“I know how much to push my kids, I know when to demand more, and I know when to let off a bit,” Mackenzie says, “I try to remind them as often as possible that I care about them and that I am proud of the people they are becoming. That is what my coaches did for me and that’s what I’m trying to do for these kids.”

Fast favorites

Contact: Anh Ha
Phone: (970) 491-4161