AHS teachers plans for retirement

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AHS teachers plans for retirement

Retiring teacher, Andre Willie, pictured posing in his iconic tie-dye lab coat

Retiring teacher, Andre Willie, pictured posing in his iconic tie-dye lab coat

Photo by Annika Nichols

Retiring teacher, Andre Willie, pictured posing in his iconic tie-dye lab coat

Photo by Annika Nichols

Photo by Annika Nichols

Retiring teacher, Andre Willie, pictured posing in his iconic tie-dye lab coat

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From experiments that don’t always go according to plan in Andre Willie’s chemistry class, to trying to actually win a debate with Chris Wheatley, these two teachers have challenged their students to overcome hurdles. Over the years, these two teachers have distilled their passion for their subjects into their students. These teachers have both been at AHS for more than ten years and are planning on retiring at the end of this school year.

Everyone knows what these teachers are like inside the classroom, but many students have no idea what these long-term teacher’s lives are like outside of the classroom, nor what their plans are for after retirement.

Chris Wheatley was born in St. Joseph, Missouri and he grew up in Kansas City. He graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School in Kansas. Debate is what inspired Chris to become an educator himself, but it also has helped shape the course of life.

“Debate is how I learned how to learn. I was able to graduate debt free after undergraduate and graduate schools as a result of debate scholarships and assistantships. I found debate to be a life-changing skill and activity and have always been a huge disciple of the activity.  Government and/or Civics has always been a passion. I have been VERY active politically since grade school,” Wheatley said.

Gemma Hill, an AHS freshman, commented on Wheatley as a teacher.

“I’m sad to see him go, he’s super energetic, he’s fun to be in class with because he knows so much and he loves what he does. I’d never thought I’d find someone who’s so invested in civics,” Hill said.

In his free time, Chris really enjoys being outdoors. Chris loves fishing, camping, alpine and Nordic skiing, and hiking. He also likes disc golf – frisbee golf – and listening or playing music. When he isn’t stuck at school he also enjoys traveling around the world. After retirement, he hopes to continue to promote critical thinking and debate by working somewhere in the entertainment industry.

“Thank you to the many students, friends, and colleagues I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with throughout the years at both Pace Academy and Aspen High School,” Wheatley said.

Andre Willie, a long time local, grew up in Aspen and also attended AHS as a student. He has been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel all over the world doing what he loves.

“After college, I worked as a biologist all over the place. I worked in California, Alaska, Peru, and Antarctica, so I got to travel a lot, which was awesome,” Wille said. “In Antarctica, I helped some scientists with research on penguins, I’ve also worked with scientists in Alaska doing research on hibernating animals in the tundra. When I retire, I’d like to do more of that stuff.”

Storey Balko, an AHS sophomore who has been in class with Andre for two years, also commented on Andre’s teaching.

“His teaching style is so unique and different and it will be missed throughout the rest of my high school science career. Andre has taught me how to work past obstacles,” Balko said.

One of Andre’s goals is to try and make learning in his class relevant outside of the classroom. He does this is by utilizing the outdoors in his lessons, like in his river ecology project. When not in the classroom, Andre also enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, Nordic and alpine skiing, rock climbing, and boating. After he retires he hopes to spend more time outdoors with his family.

“Aspen High School is the best, it’s a great place to work and I love it here. I’m sure I’ll be around helping with ExEd at some point and continue to do other things with the students of the school,” Wille said.

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