Meet Pagosa Peak Open School’s Team UP AmeriCorps members

Madi Neukirch

By Alison Beach
Pagosa Peak Open School

Pagosa Peak Open School is a proud participant of Team UP AmeriCorps, which is a program of the United Way of Southwest Colorado. 

This year, we have two AmeriCorps team members serving our students. Madi Neukirch is a social-emotional learning (SEL) advisor and Jamie McCarthy is an academic achievement advisor. Since these team members are new to our school, we asked a few questions to help our families get to know them better:

Where are you from?

Neukirch: Lincoln, Nebraska

McCarthy: Waukesha, Wisconsin

Why did you decide to join Team UP

Jamie McCarthy

Neukirch: After I graduated college in May, I knew that I wanted to take a break from my education for awhile before going back to get my teaching certificate. AmeriCorps is one year, so it seemed like the perfect amount of time to rest from my own education, while still gaining valuable experience in my career. 

McCarthy: I decided to join the AmeriCorps to start my career in public service.

What attracted you to Pagosa Springs?

Neukirch: I had never really been to Pagosa Springs before I accepted my position here. But since arriving, I’ve totally fallen in love with the town. I spent most of college leading rock climbing and backpacking trips, so I’m happy to be able to push myself in those areas on my own time.

McCarthy: The small-town life of Pagosa Springs is what attracted me to the area. It has such beautiful scenery with a welcoming atmosphere, making it a perfect location.

Why do you want to work with students at a K-7 charter school?

Neukirch: I worked at a summer camp for four summers with kids aged 7-17. While I was there, I learned a totally different way to approach youth development. When I learned about PPOS, I saw a lot of those same practices and values reflected, so I knew right away that it was an environment that I wanted to be a part of. 

McCarthy: I want to work with students at a K-7 charter school to contribute to a school that is contributing so much to its community. Being able to help these students is so rewarding.

What is your favorite
color, food and book?

Neukirch: My favorite color is green, my favorite food is ice cream and my favorite book is “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. 

McCarthy: My favorite color is red, my favorite food is mozzarella sticks, and my favorite book is “The Child Finder.”

Who is your hero?

Neukirch: My hero is my former boss at camp, Nat. She has known me since I was about 10 and has seen me through many challenges, personally and professionally. The reason I look up to her, though, is because she is an amazing role model, who never sacrifices assertiveness nor compassion in the pursuit of being a strong woman and leader.

McCarthy: My mom is my hero. She taught me to be strong, independent, and hard-working. I hope to be as successful as her one day.

Have you ever been to Colorado before joining AmeriCorps? If so, what is your favorite season in Colorado?

Neukirch: I’ve been to Colorado the past four summers to climb fourteeners with my dad. I’ve never been skiing before though, so I’m excited to be around for winter. 

McCarthy: I have only been to Colorado one other time before moving here and that was in summer as well. So, by default summer is my favorite season in Colorado, until I get the chance to experience more.

This is Pagosa Peak Open School’s second year partnering with Team UP AmeriCorps and the school is excited to continue serving our families with AmeriCorps and United Way of Southwest Colorado.