Thomas Jefferson

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Garden Level Shenanigans

Posted 12/06/2017 by Maggie Foos

One of Kalinchuk's favorite aspects of teaching is her interactions with students, such as this one with senior Lala Muniz. photo by Andrew Villescas

A new addition to Thomas Jefferson’s teaching staff brings aid and joy to students.

Amy Kalinchuk has joined the TJ community this year for her 26th year of teaching. Her desire to move on from a middle school setting at Hamilton after teaching there for nine years was fulfilled when a friend told her about an open position at TJ. She jumped on the opportunity and applied, and has proven to be a great addition to the school.

Kalinchuk remembers a time in her own high school years when a teacher watched her assist another student in class and told her that she would be a great teacher. She marks that as the moment that she let go of her dreams to be a Broadway star to become a teacher. She studied Education with an emphasis in English at the University of Iowa and graduated in 1992. Kalinchuk continued her education at the University of Colorado at Denver, earning her master’s degree in Special Education. These credentials allow her to work with students with learning disabilities and give them opportunities to be successful in high school and beyond.

Kalinchuk’s love for Special Education came in a unique way, considering she took a job through the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center where it was a requirement to have a degree in special education. This job allowed her to work and earn her degree at the same time. Kalinchuk stated, “Being around young people keeps me young. I like how teaching is an energetic type of job and I prefer to hang out with young people. I feel younger myself, I have always had a younger spirit and have appeared more innocent. I am full of shenanigans and I love to laugh.”

In her free time, Kalinchuk plays roller derby and does CrossFit™. Her daughter used to play roller derby and one day when she was volunteering at a game another mom approached her, wondering she had any interest in playing on their derby team. Kalinchuk replied by saying that she was interested, but didn’t have any time to play. The other woman asked Kalinchuk when she takes time for herself. At that moment Kalinchuk decided to join roller derby, which has become her “me time.” One of the other roller derby players started her own CrossFit™ gym, which she joined to support her teammate and friend. Now she goes four days a week for an hour each on top of playing roller derby for two hours once a week. This dedicated “me” time brings balance and joy (and sometimes cussing hurled at her trainers) (ref. shenanigans) to Kalinchuk’s life.

When she’s not teaching, working out, or spending time with her family, Kalinchuk stays busy working on two businesses she owns. The first is a soap making and skincare business that she and her husband work on together. They create all of their own soaps and try to keep them as natural as they can, using oils and other natural ingredients for scent. This business brings her to the Pearl Street Market to sell her products when time allows.   She also creates and sells online writing courses, which she publicizes on her Youtube channel where her following continues to grow.  Kalinchuk is very musical, and when she was in high school she participated in choir and played the trumpet and French horn in the band.

Kalinchuk loves spending quality time with her family and traveling. Her favorite vacation was about four years ago when her and her family traveled to Door County, Wisconsin. They had been there a few times before so they decided to travel a little farther to the Wisconsin Dells where Kalinchuk, with the assistance of her daughter, overcame her fear of water slides. Trips like these make great family memories.

A fun and youthful vibe is spread around the school by Kalinchuk, from faculty meetings to interactions with students. Principal Mike Christoff enjoys working with Kalinchuk. “The biggest thing that Mrs. Kalinchuk brings to the table is she is a very experienced teacher and she has a great personality. She is very easy to work with and cares a lot about kids which is obviously the most important thing,” Christoff said.  From students to faculty, Kalinchuk is welcomed and appreciated by the TJ community. She has brought new experience and energy to the school and the community is thankful to have her on staff.