Meet Your Neighbor: Lauren Colaizzi

We all love the little gem of a school in the middle of our Southern Gables neighborhood, Green Gables Elementary. Several of the teachers grew up in Southern Gables, or live here now. I met fifth-grade teacher Ms. Colaizzi on a recent visit to the school, and was happy to learn that she lives here in the neighborhood, just a short walk from the school. Interview by Bruce McDonald.

Bruce: To get started, we always like to find out how long you’ve lived here in Southern Gables, and what brought you here. 

Lauren: It will be our ninth anniversary here on June 18, so, since 2015. And how did you find our little gem of a neighborhood?  It was a pretty easy decision. My husband Dustin grew up here in Southern Gables so he knew the place and loved it. He knew I would too, The same house?  No, he was raised in a different house but when we found the one we’re in now we felt really lucky. He has family nearby and it’s so familiar, so peaceful and easy-going. Not to mention I’m close to work, now that I got transferred here. It’s a short walk for us – that is, for my son and me – to go to school. Couldn’t be more convenient.

I guess that teaching here at Green Gables must have been a big part of the reason to move here, right?  No, I wasn’t teaching here when we found this house. I’ve been here at the school just six months. I was in Wheat Ridge, at Wilmore-Davis Elementary until it closed last year. That was a big loss to the community there, but for me it couldn’t have come at a better time. Coming to teach at Green Gables was a dream come true. Dustin went to school here, and to Carmody Middle and Bear Creek High – the full neighborhood trifecta – and he has great memories of growing up here. Not to mention what a special and close community we have here at the Elementary school. Before Wilmore I was with Denver Public Schools for six years, and before that I taught college prep courses through CSU. 

So, you’re a Colorado girl?  No, I was born and raised in Wyoming. University of Wyoming through and through. You didn’t notice the flag by the door of my room as we walked in? Wyoming. All my kids know it. Not that I don’t love it here, don’t get me wrong. This is a great place. 

Tell us a few things, then, that you like about the neighborhood here.  I like the trees, the way that people are so friendly and watch out for each other. Being close to work – my work anyway – and school for Ardun. The parks nearby, the playground at the school. We know so many families, and Ardun is getting to where he can go to a neighbor’s house or to school by himself. It’s a safe environment. With so many young families around like us, the kids play together at each other’s homes. It’s very comfortable. The neighbors nearest to us, on either side, are just fantastic. We take care of each other’s dogs, and kids, pick up mail

Lauren Coliazzi with her University of Wyoming “Cowboy Joe Club” flag

How about Dustin, does he work close by as well?  He’s a little farther away, at NREL, the National Renewable Energy Lab. He’s a Build Tech. The scientists there design all kinds of experiments and things to test out new concepts, and he turns them into reality. One project was taking beetle-kill wood and making it into aviation fuel. He does the most interesting things! 

Sometimes we can learn a lot about someone by their hobbies, and what they do with their spare time. Will you share some of that with us?  Sure, I like reading, and my flower garden, and going as a family to museums and the Zoo. The big thing with us both, though, is our Ford hot rod. We’re really proud of it and it gets a lot of love. It’s a showpiece and we take it out for drives and show it off at special events. It takes a lot of work to keep it up. It’s a V8 with an Ardun block… Wait, what? an Ardun block? That’s... Yes, that’s right. It’s our son’s name. We like hot rods so much we even chose to name him Ardun. We liked it enough that we changed the spelling from an -en to a -un because then he gets to see his name on engines at shows.

Living by what you value. I can see it. That raises a question, do you have a favorite saying, or a piece of advice you like to go by?  Yes, I can think of one, “Live for the dash.” The dash?  Yes, the dash that goes between the year you were born and the year you die, when they write about your life. A whole life goes by so fast, and everything in it is in the dash. It’s got to be something that matters. Having a life that matters. It’s important. That’s what we do here at Green Gables, every day for these kids. My mom used to say, “Remember who you are and who you represent.” It matters. 

Wow, thank you for that. Anything else, in closing?  Well, yes. Appreciation. We have such a great little neighborhood, and neighborhood school – people sometimes get wrapped up in all the things going on in thee world, it’s good to remember the value of what we have right here with us.

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