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Kicking Back With Crowley

Posted 05/24/2024 by Miles Kahn

Crowley's energy radiates far beyond the classroom. photo by Miles Kahn

Brendan Crowley has established himself as a Thomas Jefferson staple.

From New York to Virginia to the Mile High City, Brendan Crowley has seen it all. Born in Syracuse, New York, Crowley went to Marcellus High School, where he played both soccer and lacrosse, winning a State Championship in 2005 as a sophomore on the boys’ soccer team. Pursuing lacrosse and academics he decided to go to college in upstate New York at SUNY (State University of New York) Geneseo. The college is very close to Rochester and maintains a reputation for its academic excellence. Crowley graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Childhood/Special Education and then stayed for his Master’s degree in Reading and Literacy. After graduating, Crowley moved out to Arlington, a small town in Northern Virginia very close to D.C. where he taught third and fourth grade Special Education. After three years of elementary school teaching, Crowley came to Denver because of Colorado’s natural beauty and opportunity to do things he loves like skiing. After settling into Denver, Crowley continued his teaching career at DCIS Montbello where he taught middle school for two years. In year three, he switched over to the high school level and was able to coach boys’ and girls’ soccer for the Far Northeast Warriors program. Finding an interest and passion in coaching, Crowley transferred his teaching excellence over to Thomas Jefferson High School where he continued his teaching and coaching career, taking on assignments with both the boys’ soccer and lacrosse teams. 

Here at TJ, Crowley works in the Special Education department which has always been his specialty. Crowley recalls working through the ranks of ages from elementary through high school as, “a great learning experience that allowed him to develop different teaching skills and witness student learning at all stages of development”; he feels both grateful and humbled that he was able to end up at a school as astonishing as TJ. Crowley settled in wonderfully in the close knit community of TJ, where he not only instructs students in the classroom but also shares his passion for sports as a coach for the boys’ soccer and lacrosse teams. “TJ is very special,” Crowley recalls with a smile, describing the enthusiasm of the students as “infectious” and the “support from faculty and administration is unlike and superior to anything I’ve ever experienced before.” 

While being a teacher, Crowley puts his heart and effort into coaching the two teams, relishing the opportunity to help mentor young athletes. He works with them to help them develop not only their athletic skills, but also valuable life lessons and skills about teamwork, discipline, and perseverance. “Coaching is such a rewarding experience and really an extension of the classroom,” he explained. “Being able to see student athletes develop both on and off of the field is incredibly fulfilling.” He added that the teams have built up an atmosphere of camaraderie and family both on and off the field, which helps to further connect and build the community atmosphere at TJ. 

For Crowley, the transition from the classroom to the playing field is a natural one as both an educator and a coach. He has found that many of the skills and approaches required for each role often overlap and intersect, noting that there are also many distinct differences. In the classroom, Crowley is tasked with engaging a diverse group of learners, some of whom lack intrinsic enthusiasm for what is being taught. “There’s an element of compulsion when students are required to be there, so part of the job is finding ways to make the content interesting and relevant to their lives,” he explained. On the soccer pitch or lacrosse field, however, Crowley often encounters a different dynamic. “The students who come out for the team are there because they want to be,” he notes. “They elected and chose to dedicate their time and energy to the sport and so there is an inherent drive and commitment that you don’t always see in the classroom.” 

The voluntary participation translates to a heightened level of focus and drive from student athletes that is very apparent. Crowley adds that participating in scholastic athletics adds a “heightened sense of pride and ownership that comes with representing the school.” Despite these differences, Crowley has found that the core principles of effective teaching and coaching are remarkably similar. “At the end of the day, it’s about building relationships and fostering a positive learning environment that empowers the individuals under your guidance. Whether in the classroom or on the sidelines, my goal is to help young people develop their knowledge, skills, and character to succeed both on the field of play and in the game of life.” 

As Crowley continues to balance his dual roles, he takes pride in the opportunity to shape the lives of his students and athletes in complementing ways. The classroom and playing field may seem like separate worlds, but really they are just two sides of the same coin. As Crowley put it, “It’s all about nurturing the whole person, and I’m grateful to be able to do that in so many rewarding ways.”