When (ACDS) students become the teachers
December 16, 2022
If the faces on campus this fall seemed more familiar than usual, there is a reason for it. Three reasons, in fact. Aspen Country Day School’s inspiring mountain setting and nurturing community that encourages excellence and a lifelong love of learning prompted three former students to return home to their roots to maintain — and elevate — the tradition for the next generation.
Aspen Country Day School’s core values arose out of its signature outdoor education program, where children gather around the campfire on the first trip in Kindergarten for the first of many conversations over the years about character, respect, responsibility, community, and perseverance. However, outdoor ed isn’t the only guarantee of an outstanding ACDS education, which also features rigorous academics and creative arts for the purpose of sparking curiosity, confidence, and critical thinking.
The outdoor ed experiences are transformative well beyond kindergarten. Just ask Melanie Doyle, who joined the ACDS faculty as a Kindergarten Assistant in September 2022, which is 18 years after she went on her first outdoor ed trip as an ACDS Kindergartener and nine years after she graduated. Melanie went on to Aspen High School and continued to Colorado State University, where she completed a double major in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Development and French and a minor in Ethnic Studies. Her return to ACDS as a teacher feels like a natural progression from where she started.
“I’m very proud to be at Aspen Country Day as an educator,” Melanie said. “The kindergarten space is my favorite place on campus. I love greeting the kids when they come in every morning and watching them grow in the classroom. The space is colorful, inclusive and shows everything they’re learning.”
Andrew Meisler, a 2014 ACDS graduate, was so impacted by his time in at ACDS that he returned to guide outdoor ed trips in fall 2022. Andrew completed his degree in Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder and also earned Wilderness First Responder certification. His experience, confidence, and resilience add an extra layer of distinct wonder to the ACDS Outdoor Education program that stoked Andrew’s passion for the mountains so many years ago.
“When I was a kid I used to look up at Pyramid Peak from the car on my way to school every day,” Andrew said. “Now it feels like a full-circle moment whenever I summit Pyramid Peak and look down at Highway 82.”
Lower School Drama teacher Allison Fifield graduated from Aspen Country Day School in 2008. She spent much of her time in school on stage and has barely stepped off since. Following her time at ACDS, Allison attended the Interlochen Arts Academy and then earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Acting at Syracuse University. She also studied in London, working at The Globe theatre and performing in a production of Romeo and Juliet.
She learned at a young age from experience on the ACDS stage how theatre can be a powerful tool when it comes to developing imagination, confidence, and self worth. She now works to keep spreading those powerful messages about the joy of the arts and creative expression to the Lower School, where she just finished the first part of the annual Shakespeare Festival where she was once performed before (eventually) making the leap to director.