Teacher Spotlight: Carving out Student Success with Sam Haven

Teacher Highlight Carving out Student Success with Sam Haven blog header

Written by Paige DeLozier


With eleven years of teaching experience in Aurora, Colorado, Sam Haven has had the privilege of instructing a diverse population of students across a wide array of grade levels. He is currently the Honors Physics Teacher, Instructional Lead, and Teacher Researcher Lead at Vista PEAK Prep.

Mr. Haven is known for his rapport with students and their families, focusing heavily on effective family engagement. And he’s got evidence of student improvements in attendance, academics, well-being, and more that keep him coming back to TalkingPoints each day.


Sample Conversation TalkingPoints culturally-responsive teaching

Sample TalkingPoints conversation culturally-responsive teaching
Mr. Haven holds “Family Foods” days where students bring culturally-specific dishes to share with their peers and communicates the event details with families through TalkingPoints.


Boosting academics, attendance, and more through family engagement

Bearing the weight of both a classroom teacher and an instructional leader can be challenging, especially for an educator who values the home-school connection as much as Mr. Haven does.


Sam Haven Aurora Public Schools quote family engagement cultivating positive culture


Fortunately, Aurora Public Schools has been in a district-wide partnership with TalkingPoints for four years, equitably connecting educators like Mr. Haven with all families. This partnership has allowed him, and countless other APS teachers and administrators, to engage in ways they never could have imagined. 

Mr. Haven says that before using TalkingPoints, time was the biggest barrier to effective family engagement for him and that TalkingPoints is the “most efficient and least intrusive way” to connect with families. 

His communication with families ranges from positive updates on individual students to project and assignment reminders. The Honors Physics Teacher even said he’s seen grades improve since he’s been able to engage directly with students and families via text message. “The average grade in my class is 82%!” 


Sample TalkingPoints announcement about grades

Sample TalkingPoints announcement
Sam Haven sends TalkingPoints messages and announcements regularly to keep families informed about their child’s progress and needs.

Supporting students on the slopes

The story that Mr. Haven was most excited to tell us was not about academics, however. It was about skiing. That’s right. In addition to his other responsibilities at the school, Sam Haven is the point person for the Bison Blizzard, a ski and snowbard club at Vista Peak that meets throughout the school year. He leads an annual skiing trip for students who might otherwise not get to experience such an adventure. 


Sample TalkingPoints message with picture

Sample TalkingPoints message with picture
Families LOVED seeing these pictures of their kids on a once-in-a-lifetime trip!


Jack (name changed to protect the student) wanted very badly to attend the ski trip, but was not bringing home the information his mother needed to get him signed up. Through TalkingPoints, she let Mr. Haven know how much he wanted to go, got all the information she needed, and sent Jack off to the slopes. 

During the trip, Mr. Haven sent pictures of the students in their ski gear on the mountains so parents and guardians could know exactly what they were experiencing in real-time.

The trip went off without a hitch and when everyone was back home, he received a follow-up message from Jack’s mother. What Mr. Haven didn’t know about this ski trip was how much it meant to Jack. 

“[Jack’s mother] responded and said he was so excited that he came home and started digging in the garage for his dad’s old snowboard.

“A few minutes later she told me Jack’s dad passed away two years ago from brain cancer, and him being able to pull out his dad’s old snowboard. Since his illness had progressed to a point where he was physically unable to do that or be there…of course, I cried.”


Sam Haven Aurora Public Schools quote family engagement TalkingPoints positive testimonial


Fast-forward to today, he’s still a part of the program. He’s on the honor roll. He’s playing multiple sports. Mr. Haven goes on to tell how his engagement with Jack’s mother empowered them all in the process.

“Just having that connection with that parent and helping Jack cope with his father’s passing was huge. She would reach out to let me know when he was having an off day and unlike a call or an email, it’s very discreet.”


Smooth trails ahead

As his students’ attendance, academics, well-being, and more continue to improve, Sam Haven credits TalkingPoints for helping him engage families effectively. When schools, families, and students meaningfully connect, with student outcomes as the common goal, what can’t be accomplished? 

With TalkingPoints and dedicated educators like Mr. Haven, there aren’t many bumps in the snow that can’t be traversed.


For more information on how TalkingPoints can help your school or district meet family engagement, academic, attendance, well-being, and behavior goals, visit talkingpts.org/schools

And stay tuned for more inspirational Teacher Spotlights like this one, highlighting the incredible stories of educators nationwide making a difference with TalkingPoints. 

Sam Haven Aurora Public Schools TPEC Member bio

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