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Cheyenne Mountain honors education heroes

October 13, 2012
photo - Former Cheyenne Mountain Junior High School physical education teacher and soon to be D-12 hall of fame inductee Darryl Laye, 68 holds a football signed by his 1971 championship winning football team. Laye started teaching in 1967 and taught and coached sports including football, wrestling, track, soccer and swimming. Michael Ciaglo/The Gazette Photo by MICHAEL CIAGLO, THE GAZETTE
Former Cheyenne Mountain Junior High School physical education teacher and soon to be D-12 hall of fame inductee Darryl Laye, 68 holds a football signed by his 1971 championship winning football team. Laye started teaching in 1967 and taught and coached sports including football, wrestling, track, soccer and swimming. Michael Ciaglo/The Gazette Photo by MICHAEL CIAGLO, THE GAZETTE 

The late Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw, an early superintendent of Cheyenne Mountain School District saved generations of kids from boredom with gliders and square dancing. Ninety-eight –year- old Rose Elnor Hamman saved the grade point averages of the district’s world class athletes. And retired teacher and coach DarrylLaye saved the well-being of injured players, something he learned to do in Vietnam.

All three were inducted into the Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 Hall of Fame during a ceremony Friday at the high school’s homecoming game.

The district began the special recognition last year. Former football coach Carl Fetters was the inaugural inductee.

Nominations are taken from the public each spring, and a committee that includes the district’s school board and Tradition of Excellence foundation makes the choices.

Superintendent Walt Cooper says the district wants to build a “permanent and sustainable recognition” for those who have made exceptional contributions.

The district, in The Broadmoor area, has 4,500 students and is consistently one of the top achieving districts in the state. Even as far back as 1915, the district received a rating of “excellent” from the state.

There are many potential honorees to choose from since the district’s inception in 1872, Cooper says.

Here are the stories of how this year’s honorees made a difference.

The 1946 shoot ‘em up western “Duel in the Sun”  stars Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotton.
There on the silver screen with them was Lloyd Pappy Shaw, playing a square dance caller.
But it was more than an act. Shaw is called “the dean of American folk dance,” particularly square dance, according to historians. His book “Cowboy Dances” is considered a classic, and he was considered the best caller in the country.

Shaw did more than tell dancers to promenade their partners and alamand left. He held the reins of D-12 for more than 35 years, starting in 1916 when he was 25. He was not only the superintendent, but at times teacher, coach and principal  — all at once.
As a superintendent he stressed the well-rounded student.

He created the Lloyd Shaw Folk Dance Program as a physical education class, receiving a citation from the American Academy of Physical Education.

The district had a touring square dance team, and Shaw held summer workshops attended by dancers from around the country.

“He was a Renaissance man,” said Richard Marold, a local historian who was a sophomore when Shaw retired. Marold now sometimes portrays him in historical re-enactments. 

Shaw taught Shakespeare and biology, had a magnificent voice, studied nature and wrote books, including “Nature Notes of the Pikes Peak Region.” He had a column in the Free Press newspaper, wrote student plays and made films about the region, which are in possession of the Pikes Peak Library District.

Shaw, born in Denver, graduated from Colorado College, and taught there and at Colorado Springs High School, before taking the D-12 job.

He was married to Dorothy Shaw, a poet and librarian at the school. They had two children, including a son who died in childhood, and two grandchildren, Marold said.

Shaw inspired a championship football team, but then got rid of the sport, replacing it with a program in which all kids could participate.

He retired from D-12 in 1951 and died in 1958.

Rose Elnor Hamman, a teacher who was the first guidance counselor at Cheyenne Mountain School District 12, recalls that she square danced  once with  Lloyd Shaw, her fellow D-12 Hall of Fame inductee.

“I never dreamed I’d be honored with him like this. I’m not  in that class,” she said.
But many people talk about “Miss Hamman” and the mark she left on education.

Hamman is best known for her work with athletes. She wasn’t a coach, but she ensured that district athletes  and others who were often away did their school work, were eligible to play and eventually graduated. She created a study course that helped the Broadmoor Skating Club members and others complete academic requirements, Cooper said.

“I loved working with them,” Hamman said. She could be found under the bleachers or in the dressing rooms at the skate club, giving  out information and lessons on the fly. Other times she’d even park her motor home at the skate center and use it as a classroom. She once went to Budapest. “I just wanted to see them skate,” she said.

She sometimes still thinks about the 1961 plane crash that killed all 18 members of the U.S. figure skating team on its  way to the world championships in Prague.  “Just weeks before I had visited the Westerfelds,” she said, referring to the late Sherri Westerfeld, a Cheyenne Mountain graduate who had gone as chaperone to her 17-year-old sister Steffi, who was a student.

“We took the sorrow into ourselves it was so deep,” she said.

Hamman was born in 1914 on her grandparents’ fruit farm in Canon City. “I grew up on both sides of the Arkansas River, and was in the Dust Bowl in Lamar,” she said. Her father was a civil engineer who worked in agriculture.

“I knew from day one I wanted to teach because teachers had been so good to me. I used to leave early for school in Alamosa, and hurry to the corner, so I could walk to school with one of my teachers.”

She received a college scholarship from a church, but the Great Depression hit. “It slowed me down three years,” she said. She worked as a nanny and housekeeper for a family, making $3.25 a week. “I got two hot meals a day, which helped my family.”

She graduated from Denver University in English and physical education, then taught in schools around the state.  She once had a summer job in a Georgetown cafe. ”I was supposed to be the hostess and cashier, but I did the dishes, too.”

During World War II, she was teaching junior high in Fort Collins, when she decided to join the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), the women’s division of the Navy. She was inspired by a brother who was in the Army in Europe and another who was a Navy pilot in the Pacific.

“I decided I wanted to see the sea and all I saw were the sidewalks of New York City for two years,” she laughed. “I was like a drill sergeant. I taught new recruits at a boot camp in the Bronx.”

She arrived at Cheyenne Mountain in 1960, after teaching in Craig and Fort Morgan.
She was a teacher and acting principal, and then helped create the first guidance office at the high school in 1962. “First, the school board sent me to DU to complete a guidance certificate.”

“Counseling is sometimes difficult when because a few parents think that the school should handle all a child’s problems,” she said. She sometimes visited the families at home.

She also was a tireless advocate for teachers and testified at the state Legislature for better retirement plans. Hamman officially retired in 1982, but continued her “proctoring” as she called it, for many more years, working on a volunteer basis.

Quinn Lambert, said that Hamman helped her son Zane, who was often away from the high school travelling to national archery competitions. Hamman kept  him on track, making sure his schedule was up to date, and that he had the credits to graduate.

“Ruth over the years has been a help to many of our outstanding citizens,” Lambert said.

At age 98, she loves to read, attends United Methodist Church downtown, and for 72 years as been a member of the PEO Sisterhood, which provides educational opportunities for female students.

Hamman, who is single, is surprised that people remember her work and wand to honor her.
But others aren’t surprised.

“Everyone agrees she is a caring woman who gave so much of her life to education,” Lambert said.

Darryl Laye taught and coached in District 12 for more than 35 years.

But his first year at the junior high school in 1967 could have been his last.

The Vietnam war was raging and he was drafted in October. The superintendent requested that the draft board delay until the end of the school year, which it did.

“In June I reported,” Laye said. He trained as a medic at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

He served at a base clinic in Cu Chi, Vietnam, where soldiers were treated for wounds and other medical problems. He was the casualty clerk, but said, “I don’t talk much about it.”

By August 1970 he was back at Cheyenne Mountain Junior High. “The military helped me be a better person and teacher and I wanted to make a difference in kids’ lives.”

And he certainly did, say those who were his colleagues.

Warren Ruppert, head of the physical education department at Cheyenne Middle School, said that Laye reminds him of Will Rogers.

“He is a kindly man. He never met a person he didn’t like.”

Ruppert was a seventh-grader when he first encountered Laye. “I was wide-eyed and unsure of myself and not ready for junior high. He was one of those guys who is always there for people. He was compassionate and inspired me to do my best.”

After college graduation, Ruppert returned to Cheyenne Middle School as a teacher and coach. Laye was still employed there. “I found that he was still teaching me about lifelong lessons like he did when I was a kid.”

Over the years, Laye taught physical education, coached junior and senior high football, high school swimming, junior and senior high wrestling, junior high track and assisted with boys and girls soccer.

“We had a lot of good athletes,” he said. A few became professionals such as linebacker Gordon Riegel, who played at Stanford and for the NFL’s Rams.

While he an assistant soccer coach at the high school, Cheyenne won two state championships. As a junior high football coach they were undefeated in numerous league competitions.

Laye was born in San Francisco in 1944. His father was in the grocery business. Beside he and his brother and sister, there were five foster children.

He attended Woodside Priory High School in California where he was in track and  played soccer. Just last year he was inducted into that school’s Sports Hall of Fame.

At Huron University in South Dakota he majored in physical education and Spanish and played football, and later  got a master's degree from Adams State University in secondary education.

“I learned a lot from my coaches. They led by example. And I wanted to be like that.”
He chose to teach sports, he says because it entails all the fundamentals of life. “It has a lasting effect on students. It teaches discipline, punctuality and dependence on others in a positive way.”

He particularly liked to work with junior high students. “They are at an important age where you can have more of an impact on them. You can develop the entire kid, not just work on sports techniques.”

He was not soft on them, either.

“I liked to say that during the first couple weeks of training that I yelled so they could hear me,” he laughed.

”I had expectations.” One of those was no swearing. “If it happened, I didn’t have them do push ups, which they didn’t mind. Instead I made them write, which was good for their academics.”

But he said over the years he mellowed. “You change with the times.”

The worst moments were when players were injured. He’d go out on the field with the trainers and a few times his medic training came in handy. But serious injuries were rare.

For the kids, the painful moments were often when their parents didn’t show up for games. “I recall what that was like. When I was a kid, my mom would say, I’ll try to make it to the game. And I would look for that car.”

He and his wife, Martha, have two children and four grandchildren. His daughter, Anne Cross, teaches second grade at Skyway Elementary, and their son Marty Laye is an Air Force major.
Laye retired in 2003, but has done some substitute teaching. This year he is a volunteer in  a kindergarten class at Skyway Elementary where his granddaughter is a student.

“It’s really fun. They are so genuine and full of vitality. You ask a question, maybe asking about letter sounds, and three hands will go up. And you call on a little kid and they say, ‘I played outside this weekend,’” he said with a laugh.

Contact Carol McGraw: 636-0371 Twitter @mcgrawatgazette Facebook Carol McGraw

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