We had the good fortune of connecting with Gordon Lyng and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gordon, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I grew up in New Jersey and was raised in a single parent household. My upbringing taught me at a young age to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. Not having that extra parent around, especially a male figure, pushed me in the direction of helping others because I knew how difficult that situation is / can be. My incredible mother raised three boys by herself and for a large part of my life, I considered myself to be the closest thing to a “father figure” for them. I took on a ton of responsibilities that kids should not have to take on and because of that, I believe it has influenced me heavily in the professional world. Due to my childhood and my passion for education, I want to make the largest impact I possibly can. I specialize in working for underserved communities because I know first hand what it is like to live with disadvantages. I have connected with hundreds of young people who have went through or are going through similar situations that I went through growing up. I find a great deal of passion being a role model for kids who need one the most. I want to create programming and pathways for kids to expand their understanding of life which hopefully in return sets them up for a life full of choice and prosperity.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I knew at 17 I wanted to work in education but I am not your typical teacher. I currently work in Green Valley Ranch / Montbello for KIPP Northeast Middle School as a Grade Level Chair / Life Skills & Health teacher. The ability to lead a grade level of about 9 teachers is fantastic leadership experience. I am honored to work with smart and dedicated people day in and day out. Educationally, I pushed for a new elective in our school I am calling POW! or Person of Wisdom! It is essentially a course teaching students things they traditionally would never learn in school. Focuses such as taxes, budgeting, job skills, social emotional learning, time management, are a shortlist of things I cover in the course. Being able to advocate for life-worthy education on behalf of my students is the type of impact I set out to make. I have also taken on many different roles outside of the classroom. I am our schools Family Engagement Coordinator which aims to enhance the relationship between our school and community. I have taken on the Celebrations Committee chair which designs joyful programming for students and staff in the building. I was in-charge of our schools social media for a time period and aimed to engage with local business and community pages. I coach multiple sports bringing my extensive coaching background to young athletes that might be unable to access that level of development. I am a mentor with the Sims-Fayola Foundation which aims to improve the lives of young men of color. (What’s up Jabril!) I am a Solution Coach through ESPN’s No Bully Program that implements 21st century styled techniques to combat bullying and unkindness in schools. I believe my approach to education truly sets me apart. I aim to involve myself in as many different opportunities possible to improve the lives of young people. I hope I can inspire other educators to do the same. Getting here was quite the journey. I have worked in 3 different time zones since 2014 all gaining experience to become a complete educator. Every experience was centered around educational enhancement and my professional development. I have worked in New Jersey, Maine, Missouri, and now Colorado. Each opportunity was a classic case of doing research then “putting myself out there”. This tactical approach to the profession in return had me leaving friends and family behind, putting what seemed like millions of miles on my car, working for little money, and just mentally existing in an “unknown” space. Nothing can simulate the emotion of not knowing what is going to happen next. I am proud of the challenges I have faced because going back to my upbringing, I was able to problem solve while maintaining a positive attitude. Not many people understand why I go to great lengths for education. There are negative stigmas attached to working in education and to be honest, there were some days where I wanted to just forget everything and start a career that boasts a more luxurious lifestyle. There we even days when I had $10 or less in my account for days and I needed to figure out ways to eat. It all comes down to my passion and vision for myself. Knowing I won’t be in situations permanently and exercising a high level work ethic is how I pushed through. The main lesson I learned along the way is connecting with people. Meeting, listening, and understanding different people. People have more in common than they think and the only real way to find that out is to spend time with one another. Meeting people without any expectations allows you to discover who they are or who they are trying to be. From there, just be kind. What I want people to know about my story is that even when you are dealt a bad hand or face disadvantages, continue to push toward your passions with a sense of optimism and work ethic. The worst days don’t seem so bad and the good days are always met with a sense of appreciation.
I was able to crowdfund money and start a chess club for middle school aged students. Once a week, I would teach chess to 20-30 students. The money generated supplied 30 chess boards, clocks, chess awards, and chess teaching supplies. I think chess is very important for children to learn as it increases critical thinking and analytical skills. I also did this totally for free because as stated a few times already, I find great passion in giving back to communities who need it the most. Teaching chess to this community was a great honor for me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my friend come into town, I really enjoy taking them to the Highlands. The combination of Avanti / Recess / Happy Camper and walking around with a great view of the city makes for a good time. I have some good friends who live in LoDo with pools / hot tubs at their apartments. We would definitely go kick it over there and just relax with some views of the mountains and the city. Food wise, I have actually ordered from 32 different pizzerias in Denver since the pandemic hit last March. My favorite pizza in the city is Blue Pan by far. I would grab some food from there and head to Riverfront Park near the Ballpark downtown. Great place to chill while you eat. Drink and entertainment wise, NATIV is always a blast. The basement plays the style of music I like and we always have a fun time at that spot.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout is to the people who combat influences around them and stay aligned to their passion. We live in a world full of comparisons where passions are often abandoned. I want to shoutout the ones who stay focused on fulfilling their purpose.
Facebook: Gordon Lyng
Camp Skylemar Photo Team Cell phone photo taken by a parent of a former soccer player