- Associated Press - Saturday, December 24, 2016

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - Windsor Middle School teachers Callie Dimagiba and her mother, Denise Colberg, have more in common than teaching at the same school.

They share inside jokes, an obsession with literature, leftover stew on occasion and a propensity for being in the right place at the right time.

“We should probably get lottery tickets, I don’t know,” Colberg said from her classroom.

Colberg said she was lucky to find her first teaching job in South Dakota right out of college, reported The Greeley Tribune (https://bit.ly/2hvqh71).

“I always knew I wanted to teach,” she said. “I never even considered a different career path.”

Dimagiba laughed and said, “I didn’t get that from you.”

Dimagiba’s journey to teaching was more conflicted than her mother’s. She earned a degree in English at the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2009 with the intent of attending medical school and becoming a doctor, like her father.

After rejection letters from medical schools, however, Colberg threw out the idea she try teaching, if only as a back-up plan.

Colberg credited familial good luck when an English teaching position opened where she worked, Windsor Middle School, the year her daughter graduated.

“I did not want to teach at the same school as my mom,” Dimagiba said. “If I’m going to be a teacher, it can’t be in the same building as my mom or even with people who had been my teachers when I was a student there. I said, ‘I don’t think I need to go back to Windsor Middle.’”

But Dimagiba applied, doubting she would even make it to the interview stage. However, she was offered the job.

She started teaching across the hall from her mother, even teaching the same curriculum: sixth- and eighth-grade English.

The two developed a professional partnership, preparing lesson plans and brainstorming ideas together.

Aside from the occasional threat from a student - “I’m going to tell your mom on you” - Dimagiba liked working closely with her mother.

It was her mom, after all, who taught her to love books in the first place.

“Every night before bed my mom would read to me until I went to high school,” Dimagiba said. “We would read literature, books other kids hadn’t even heard of.”

In college, Dimagiba suffered a torn ACL while playing volleyball. Three knee surgeries left her in pain, reliant on an ice pump and crutches just in time for an intensive three-week course on Mark Twain.

Colberg read six Mark Twain books aloud to her adult daughter to help her pass the course, just as she had done when her daughter was younger.

After four years of teaching the same curriculum as her mother, in 2013 Dimagiba changed her teaching focus. She was given the position of teaching eighth-grade science, meaning she had to move classrooms to a different wing of the school.

It was a bittersweet opportunity, she said. Embracing the scientific side of her interests meant no longer teaching closely with her mother.

But their professional partnership didn’t end. The two still swap notes about teaching strategies, and they even recycle English projects, but with a scientific approach.

Dimagiba and Colberg are the only mother-daughter pair in the Windsor-Severance school district to teach in the same building, and though they don’t teach the same material anymore, they are never far apart.

“I told you, we’re pretty lucky,” Colberg said.

___

Information from: The Tribune of Greeley, Co, https://greeleytribune.com

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