2023 Colorado Department of Education Governor's Distinguished Improvement Award

Colorado Department of Education John Irwin School of Excellence award

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Grace and Robert Zach


Opened in August, 2002, Zach Elementary was named in honor of Grace and Robert Zach who served as educators in the Poudre School District for many years. Both Grace and Robert Zach began English teaching careers the fall of 1950 in Fort Collins. As classroom teachers and as department chairs, they were curriculum builders, dedicated to implementing courses that value both innovative creativity and strong course content —creative writing, paperback books as classroom libraries, humanities classes, filmmaker in the schools —a lengthening list. It was their privilege to help an enviable number of students discover or expand diverse inter-disciplinary talents. 


Grace coached Fort Collins High School speech and debate winners in state and national competitions and helped Poudre High School students excel in critical analysis and writing skills needed to earn Advanced Placement college and university credits. During his 20 years at Fort Collins High School Bob’s creative writing classes and student publications inspired award-winning young journalists, poets, writers, and filmmakers who continued to expand that talent with excellence in their adult careers. 


As Poudre School District Language Arts Coordinator, Bob encouraged and mentored innovative excellence in teaching K-12. Composition Aids were hired to strengthen and expand student writing skills district-wide; outreach and cooperation with CSU faculty members brought classes and enrichment workshops for teachers; similar involvement with the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities brought poets, artists, and musicians into classrooms and district-wide presentations. With special funding grants, a Rocky Mountain High School Humanities and Technology program added a science teacher to the humanities team and a mentoring program named “Compose” that linked student writers with public school teachers, university faculty, and community members. Bob added imaginative innovative approaches to solid academic excellence. Grace and Bob experienced the delight of finding second-generation students sitting in their classrooms — a rewarding capstone to rewarding careers in teaching.

PSD does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, veteran status, age or disability in access or admission to, or treatment or employment in, its programs or activities. A lack of English speaking skills will not be a barrier to admission or participation.