Meet David Molineux (he/him). When you talk with him, you immediately feel right at home. Maybe it’s the English accent or because he is naturally social or maybe it’s his love of telling stories. Whatever the reason, David has a way of making you feel comfortable and happy in his presence, which is probably what makes him so good at his role as the Director of Education at Jefferson Hills (now Jefferson Center Academy).
David knew from a young age that he had a passion for mental health as he grew up watching his mom work as the district consultant for kids with autism. He had the opportunity to spend time with the kids, helping at summer camps his mother put on. When he started out as a special education teacher in England, David realized he wanted to be in a place with more attention to mental health. So, he joined a teacher exchange program where he swapped places with a teacher to work for a year at Stanley Lake High School in Westminster, CO while the other teacher went to Leicester, England. He looks back fondly on that time and says, “You never forget your first students. I can still name the first 10 kids I taught.”
In 2001, he was contacted by Jefferson Center Academy to be the education coordinator. His role would entail overseeing 10 programs across the state. David planned to stay for three years to help get the programs stable before heading back to England. He is now 24 years into his three-year contract and continues to play a vital role in the support of kids and youth in Colorado.
David works with the academy, where they currently have 12 kids, many who are on the spectrum or have experienced bullying because they struggle with social situations. He works closely with the school districts across the metro area with the goal of getting the kids into public schools. Each year, they have one or two graduating students and David makes sure to go the extra mile to celebrate their accomplishments and graduation.
The other program is New Vistas, the crisis program for kids and youth. As the only adolescent crisis program in the state, New Vistas provides care to nearly 500 kids each year who are facing mental health crises. The mission is to help the kids and their families find a place of comfort and safety and get them back home with the tools to manage the struggles and find success.
David says the most fulfilling part of his job is hearing from the kids he works with years later. They share their stories of hope and how they have found success in life. He is especially proud of one student at the academy now who had been bullied for many years. They were able to work part-time in the kitchen and after graduation this year, will continue on to culinary school. It’s stories like this that make the work so worthwhile.
When he’s not working, David spends his time traveling the world to visit his family, spending a lot of the time in England. His two kids live close by, and his oldest grandchild starts high school this fall – at Stanley Lake where David first taught in the states! He also loves playing chess and spent time coaching soccer for the University of Denver women’s team. They loved having David as a coach, and he smiles fondly as he says, “The girls would say his instructions sounded great, but they couldn’t understand a word he said!” So, he improvises and brough a white board to communicate through diagrams. He says in coaching or teaching, you never know the influence you can have on a young person, but he aims to be the teacher they remember!