Alumna Dawn Axelson teaches her students to be young men and women in service of others

Regis University lives by its mission of service to others. For Dawn Axelson, that mission is a day-to-day reality. Dawn, a native of Wheat Ridge, Colo., has been working as an elementary school teacher for 19 years and at Foster Elementary in Arvada, Colo., for the past 11. Her mother, a second-grade teacher, inspired her interest in teaching, and when she decided to get her master’s in education, she sought out a program that would be just as inspiring. “I wanted to learn deeply, to be enlightened, to get an education that would change my life,” Dawn said.

Her Regis education was all that she hoped it would be. She graduated in 2000 and soon had the opportunity to teach her third-grade students about being young men and women in service of others. In 2005, the regional coordinator for PeaceJam came to Foster to see if they would be a pilot school for the new PeaceJam Juniors curriculum. After hearing about the Colorado-based international education organization's mission to inspire students to change their world through service learning and the influence of Nobel Peace laureates, Dawn jumped at the opportunity.

PeaceJam at Foster has provided students in third through sixth grade with role models who live for others. “We would hear things on the playground like ‘That's not what Desmond Tutu would do,’” Dawn said. Foster has had five Nobel laureates come to speak to the students, and there has been a schoolwide assembly for each, full of students whose passion for the laureates is real. This student involvement isn’t limited to the assemblies – two of the elementary school students interviewed Governor Ritter to convince him to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations framework for climate change.

“I think that we all should be tapping into the brilliance of those that surround us, bringing together their skills and talents, and through collaboration, using them to enhance lives and better our world,” Dawn said. She certainly is doing just that, teaching students to be engaged and aware of their communities in a way that makes Regis proud.

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