Ms. Kristi Mackenzie, a Denver Academy high school science teacher, has taught at Denver Academy for a combined seven years. Ms. Mackenzie has become an integral part of the Denver Academy community and made a difference in numerous student’s lives.
It was a natural progression for Ms. Mackenzie to pursue a career in the scientific realm, considering her affinity for biology in high school. Ms. Mackenzie earned her Bachelor of Science in biology with a minor in chemistry from the University of San Diego.
“ I always knew I wanted to work in biology. Initially, I was on a path to be a marine biologist. Though, I felt pigeonholed by such a specific major,” said Ms. Mackenzie. “I then changed to a general biology path. After receiving my degree, I decided to go a teaching route compared to the Ph.D. direction.”
Thereafter, Ms. Mackenzie earned her Master of Science in Medical Genetics from the University of Colorado, Health Sciences. Ms. Mackenzie’s tenure at Denver Academy began in 2000 when she taught several science (biology and chemistry) and math classes, and also advised and mentored multiple homeroom classes. In 2004, due to family needs, she moved to Utah and worked as an adjunct professor for Salt Lake City Community College. After returning to Denver, she worked as a teacher for both Denver Public Schools and Jefferson County Schools. Later, she reconnected with Denver Academy while working with a learning specialist for her own child. In 2018, Ms. Mackenzie returned to Denver Academy after being invited by the head of the high school, Mr. Wood.
Throughout the Denver Academy community, Ms. Mackenzie is highly regarded for her distinctive approach to biology and her ability to meaningfully engage students through progressive and entertaining lessons. Ms. Mackenzie’s teaching approach centers around student proactive accountability while also emphasizing the creation of a safe learning environment for students. Through kinesthetic inquiry-based activities, such as labs and models, students are able to develop a deeper understanding of scientific concepts while also developing critical-thinking skills.
The autonomy that the Denver Academy Program Team gives teachers, allows teachers to personalize their lessons.“Denver Academy stood out to me because Denver Academy recognizes that education isn’t ‘one size fits all.’ I saw that the Denver Academy teachers had an individualized plan for students, ” Ms. Mackenzie said. “Denver Academy looks at learning in a ‘how do you learn best’ sense compared to public schools where it is ‘how much can you learn.’”
Ms. Mackenzie explains that these unprecedented times have required particular inventiveness and flexibility in teaching approaches. “I have had to learn how to make meaningful, engaging lessons through an online platform,” said Ms. Mackenzie. Forced ingenuity has also had some positive takeaways that will be carried through in post-pandemic times. Denver Academy's expansive campus has allowed a large part of learning to take place outdoors. “I really enjoy teaching outside and utilizing our campus.”
Outside of school, Ms. Mackenzie enjoys spending time with her family and exploring Colorado.
Ms. Mackenzie is Mustang Proud because she gets to come to work with some of the best educators and people she has known.