Charting a new course
When Karyn Bechtel moved to Glade Park in 2007, she was returning home to Colorado after working at Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service in California. It was at that time Bechtel heard about a group of residents that were working toward reopening a public elementary school on Glade Park. And Bechtel jumped right in to learn how she could help. “What began as a desire to keep my kids closer to home grew into a passion for community-based, teaching and learning,” says Bechtel, “And this was a natural extension of the work I did at Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service.” Bechtel’s volunteer work paid off as the school reopened in the fall of 2009.
The fulfillment was short-lived however, as budget cuts at District 51 slated the school for closure once again after the 2010-2011 school year. Bechtel’s role switched gears as she and other volunteers hurried to apply for a district charter school status for the fall of 2011. “There was simply no other way to get the application through more quickly than to work with the district,” says Bechtel, “And truth be told, because of our small size, it is great to have the district in a supporting role.”
As the volunteer Enrichment Coordinator for the school, Bechtel helps plan off-site learning experiences and guest speakers who can help connect the students’ learning to their environment. She also serves as the current president of On the Park, the non-profit organization that supports and fundraises for the school which has plans to expand the school’s campus beyond the two-classroom modular unit that currently serves as its schoolhouse.
While working to support the school, Bechtel also helps plan and facilitate The Leadership Challenge Forum, an annual leadership conference that brings together professionals to assist them with instituting the challenge with their employees or constituents. She also participated in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Program and is look forward to being a new member of the Chamber’s Forum for the coming year.
“It is a true gift to have discovered a role I can play in my local community that inspires me and also makes use of my skills and experience,” says Bechtel.