From Cynthia Stevenson (Colorado Superintendent of the Year)
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter to support Mike McQueen for your open position. I have known Mike for approximately eight years. He served as the Teacher Librarian at McLain High School, which is in Jeffco Public Schools. I was the Superintendent of Jeffco Schools. I am honored to recommend Mike because he is truly talented, caring, and intelligent. He represented the best of the teaching staff in Jeffco Schools. Following are the specific reasons that I believe Mike is a consummate professional.
Mike McQueen provided teacher leadership for his school, for Jeffco Schools and for the state. In his school Mike was the hub of the instructional program because he designed the school library to compliment the work of every classroom teacher. He consistently reached those students who needed extra attention and who needed to feel that adults cared about them. He led the implementation of technology in instruction and provided much needed technical and emotional support for teachers in implementing technology in their classes. In Jeffco Mike served as a model teacher librarian. The library was a model for other schools in providing support for teachers and for students. Mike was always a leader in the state through the International Reading Association and through the language arts and technology organizations. The leadership roles that he took in his school demonstrated that his McLain colleagues believed in his decision-making and in his ability to represent them. Mike was successful because his colleagues respected and trusted him. Mike is truly an example of the importance and power of teacher leadership.
In Jefferson County Schools we truly believed in and supported literacy instruction. Mike implemented a personal crusade to ensure that everyone believed in the ability of boys to excel in reading and in writing. He implemented classes and special instruction in his school for males who had not been successful. He modeled the importance and power of reading and writing. He was creative in his work with both students and teachers. Mike consistently demonstrated excellence in teaching and in reaching students who needed someone to believe in them. The change in students was a testament to Mike’s work and to his gifts as a teacher. The final testament to Mike’s work is his own published book on boys and literacy. It is an accomplishment, a guide to strategy, and a powerful statement of what can be accomplished when one believes in the power of learning and of literacy.
Mike is a model of innovation and professionalism. He assumed responsibility for both the effectiveness of his school and for the building of the best media program in Colorado in Jeffco Schools. He was willing to provide leadership and model excellent instruction. He believed in his work and in his students. Because he was being the type of teacher who was always asking what is possible, he consistently created a better world for the students who worked with him.
In my over 40 years as an educator, I met many excellent teachers. Mike is one of the best in committing himself to the success of schools, programs, and students. Literacy and media are critical in our profession. We need experts in teaching. Mike provides excellence in teaching and deep content knowledge in literacy and technology. Mike McQueen is a true professional who builds greatness in our programs and in our children. He is truly a great teacher and author.
Dr. Cynthia Stevenson, Superintendent
From Deborah Gard (Principal)
Dear Hiring Administrator,
This letter is to strongly recommend Mike McQueen. I worked with Mike directly for 9 years at McLain High School ( I as Principal and he as Teacher Librarian) and indirectly for 6 years before that as part of the Arvada Area Articulation Schools team.
Mike is an outstanding person, librarian, teacher, professional developer, author and presenter. He cares deeply about his profession, his students and his colleagues. This caring is translated into action, as he was the technology innovator and trainer for our school, as well as the creator of a student centered library which became the heart of our extremely diverse alternative high school.
Whether he is helping pregnant or parenting teens read stories to their children and capturing it on CDs and then gifting the CDs to the students, or helping an adult student prepare for her first graduation speech or teaching a teacher a new way to engage students using some new app on an iPad, Mike’s passion for teaching and learning is evident in every action he takes.
Mike has a strong resume capturing his commitment and his growth as an educator over the years. He has worked with all ages, abilities, and backgrounds and he manages to inspire and encourage them all.
He is an extremely talented, likable, responsible, ambitious and effective educator. He’s a catch! My advice to you is to get him if you can. Feel free to contact me if I can further support his application.
Deborah M. Gard
From Julie Waage (Assistant Principal)
To whom it may concern:
Over the course of five years at McLain Community High School, I had the honor or working with Mike McQueen and it is with pleasure that I write this letter of recommendation.
During my time at McLain, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with Mr. McQueen. His creativity, innovation and drive made him the perfect partner as I sought to bring the world alive for my students. As the digital teacher librarian, he was continually seeking out new and exciting ways to utilize technology and he supported me in using technology effectively to support my teaching. As he taught classes with me, I learned from him each day. From assisting in bringing guest speakers into my classroom digitally from halfway around the world, to helping my students to communicate effectively and responsibly with the rest of the world through various means including video public service announcements, blogs, and more. I became a better teacher because of my work with him, and I know that my students learned more through his highly engaging approach to teaching.
As I shifted my career into administration, Mr. McQueen is the standard to which I compare each of the individuals who have worked in my libraries. He set a very high bar for creating a culture of learning, developing dynamic relationships with students, providing school leadership, and demonstrating consistently high standards. His drive to continually learn and to improve himself as an educator is a model for others not only within the school, but in the district, and now nationally, as well.
Above all else, I admire Mr. McQueen’s dedication to his students. He commits himself to educating the whole child and to giving even the most challenging students a place to come where (s)he can feel safe, supported, and loved.
It is without hesitation that I recommend Mike McQueen for a position in your school. Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions that you might have. I can be reached at 303-982-1240.
Julie M. Waage, Ed.S.
Assistant Principal Arvada K-8 School
From Lisa Hughes (Instructional Coach)
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to highly recommend Mike McQueen for a position in your school district. I worked with Mike both as a teacher and Instructional Coach at McLain High School. He is creative, charismatic, and flexible. Over the years, I watched him build strong, positive relationships with both students and staff. Mike consistently strives to learn from others as well as doing extensive research and seeking out resources for himself and others. Mike’s work ethic is extraordinary, he is truly passionate about working with people and showing them the possibilities and opportunities available.
As an Instructional Coach, I often spoke with Mike about ideas and challenges both in my work and seeking advice on how to facilitate adult and student learning. Mike’s strength is in his listen-first philosophy. He isn’t quick to interrupt with his own opinions and thoughts but rather listens to the other person’s experiences and ideas before encouraging them to continue or suggesting alternatives and next steps. His enthusiasm for teaching and learning helped me stay excited about my own work with both teachers and students.
In addition to working with Mike as a teacher, I also had the opportunity to see him transform a library into a learning environment. During my years as instructional coach, my office was in a tutorial room in the library. Having worked here a number of years before Mike was hired, I knew what the library looked like before and how rarely it was used by staff and students. In the years Mike was here I saw a change in the look and use of the space that was amazing. Mike included students in the design and purpose of the library incorporating art, a spectacular Rube Goldberg machine, learning stations, reading areas, technology areas, and a model classroom section. There is a picture that hangs in our District Education Offices of our library before Mike came to our school and I smile each time I pass it knowing that sterile, “shhhh,” underutilized space was now a busy, colorful, educational zone.
In my years as a teacher, Mike was an invaluable resource to bounce ideas off of, seek technology help, gather materials including books and electronic resources, and host groups of students in his library. With the huge expanse of information on the internet and computer access in every classroom, it is easy to forget about the school’s library, but Mike constantly encouraged us to bring students to a new learning environment and utilize his resources, expertise and assistance in a variety of class activities.
I was sad when Mike made his announcement to leave Colorado and move closer to extended family. Although we were lucky to hire another great librarian, no one could fill the shoes of Mike. He built our library into a place of collaboration, learning, relaxation, and exploration. Mike truly made a difference in my own work with teachers and students.
McLain High School
13600 West 2nd Place
Lakewood, CO 80228
From Shawn Harris (Technology Coordinator)
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter of reference for Mike McQueen whom I have known and worked with for the past eight years during our mutual employment at McLain High School. I am the Technology Coordinator at McLain and my position is to support staff and students in all aspects of technology from problems logging in and printing, to resources for the classroom, to leading professional development opportunities for the staff.
During seven of the eight years that I worked with Mike, he and I shared an office in the Library to better coordinate the needs of his position in the school with the technical expertise that I could offer. Working so closely with Mike, I experienced on a daily basis the incredible energy and creativity that Mike brings to his job.
Mike McQueen is perhaps one of the most exuberant people I have ever met. He brings an energy to his job which is both inspiring and enviable. Consistently Mike would be out in the building among the staff helping them implement a new technology in the classroom rather than hiding in his office, a practice all too common among other librarians who are sometimes content to merely check out and shelve books. In addition to his presence throughout the school, Mike transformed the library space from a stagnant, cold institution to a friendly, approachable and comfortable place for students. His transformation (which he alludes to as an “Extreme Library Makeover”) was so successful that he was even tapped by a major publisher to write a book about it!
In regards to his prowess with Instructional Technology, McLain has professional development meetings for its staff which Mike and I were consistently tasked to lead. For these meetings, Mike always discovered new technology tools (Voicethread, iMovie, Pic Collage, etc.) and adapted them for our challenging, at-risk student population. Even more important than the tools he discovered on his own was his ability to take new software that the district was implementing such as Schoology, Infinite Campus, and Google Sites and introduce them in a clear fashion with examples and hands-on demonstrations to the staff.
Mike wore many hats during his time at McLain: Teacher/Librarian, Instructional Leader, Building Technology Advisor, Instructor of Professional Development and Mentor willing to lend an ear to any student who needed a little direction in their life. I have no doubt that Mike will excel in any position he accepts for his dedication to his job is second to none.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.
From Kimberly Willahan (English Teacher / Librarian)
To Whom It May Concern:
I had the pleasure of working with and knowing Mike McQueen for seven years. His passion for elevating instruction with relevant tech tips/tools is obvious, and his role to
the McLain leadership team was critical. He possesses an awesome ability to reach students’ others could not. He embraced all learners and through his instructional methods, differentiated instruction with ease – for both struggling and advanced learners. He is innovative, generous, kind, respectful, funny, and dependable.
Furthermore, his knowledge of how to embed ISTE standards seamlessly with curriculum was invaluable – Mike’s (monthly) tech tips made sense for our 21st century earners. Mike’s knowledge of research-based best practices to improve/promote literacy was above average, and his willingness to serve and prepare students for life beyond high school was authentic.
I highly recommend Mike for any position or endeavor he may seek to pursue. His leadership, knowledge, willingness to collaborate, and passion are valuable assets for any organization. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Kimberly Willahan, M. Ed.
Digital Teacher Librarian (DTL)
From Stephanie Pellegrino (Language Arts Teacher)
To whom it may concern:
I have known Mike McQueen for seven years and had the pleasure of working with him for six of them on multiple projects both in and out of the classroom. Mike is a great source for creative technological lessons and he has a knack for making technology accessible to both students and staff. Whenever I wanted ideas for innovative uses of technology for summative assessments, I would talk to Mike and we would design something together that would teach kids digital skills and assess their knowledge while engaging them in an inventive final product. Additionally, Mike is constantly seeking out new ideas to make life easier for staff. His technology tips, especially regarding Google tools, have helped me to streamline my lessons and grading.
Mike is a warm, welcoming presence for students. He made sure that our library was a positive place for kids to hang out and interact; kids often said that it was their favorite place in the building. Mike also made sure to keep high-interest materials on hand and include students in any changes the library made, from asking them to paint murals to helping him choose new books.
I highly recommend Mike for any position or endeavor he may seek to pursue. He will be a valuable asset for any organization for both staff and students. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Language Arts Teacher
From Glen Todd (Teacher)
To Whom It May Concern:
It is with great pleasure that I recommend Mr. Mike McQueen for a digital teaching librarian position. I have had the pleasure of working alongside Mr. McQueen for nine years here at McLain Community High School. He is a consummate professional who cares deeply about our student’s current and future success.
His energy in the library and classroom is infectious. His laugh and positive energy make our student’s days a little brighter, as well as my own. Students are engaged and participating when Mr McQueen is teaching a lesson for one of my classes or in the library. One of his many strength’s, is relating the material in a way that is relevant to our student’s lives. He is excellent at making the lesson meaningful to their current of future lives.
Specific examples of Mr. McQueen’s talents would be in my Microeconomics class where he came in many times to help teach my students on entrepreneurship and social networking skills. Another example would be my Humanities class where he took time to help my students with various technologies: Photoshop, Google Docs, etc.
I strongly recommend Mr. Mike McQueen in any teaching capacity. In my opinion he will be a true asset for any school or university.
Mr. Glen Todd
Social Studies Teacher
McLain Community High School