COLLEAGUE SPOTLIGHT: OLIVEANN SLOTTA
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been an educator since I was 21, working mostly in public schools in a variety of ways. About half of that time has been spent teaching math, which I continue to do as an adjunct professor at Metro State University in Denver. My daughter says I have always enjoyed teaching “passive, lethargic students” because changing their image about math is both a challenge and an inspiration. Imaginal Education has been a primary empowerment tool in my work because I’m out primarily to change students’ images of math from “just rules and algorithms” to an understanding that math represents the way the world works.
My husband, Jim, and I have four grown sons and daughters, who collectively have four grandchildren. The formula for the ages of my grandchildren is y = x + 4. The oldest is 20. So you can figure out how old the rest are. Jim is also deeply involved in the neighborhood climate work we’re doing here in Denver.
How did you get involved with ICA?
In 1972, we took a course for local church leaders that the Ecumenical Institute was sponsoring. From there, we very quickly became involved in ICA’s Town Meeting ‘76 campaign in Ohio; I was fortunate enough to be able to work full time with the Institute as they set out to do town meetings in every county of the United States and other countries. At that time ICA’s Cleveland House and Cincinnati offices worked together to organize Town Meeting ‘76 in every county of Ohio. After that first year with the program, our family moved to Montreal and took the town meeting procedure (Community Forum Canada) to Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. In 1979, we moved to Denver, where we now live.
What are you currently working on?
In 2015, a group of ICA colleagues in the Denver area began working to organize Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action, inspired by the accelerate77 program ICA was doing in Chicago. We developed a format for an all-day Forum that invites neighborhood residents to create action plans to address climate change by reducing their carbon footprint. There are now 22 action plans across 8 of Denver’s 79 neighborhoods.
I’m part of the program’s initiating committee that includes two ToP facilitators. We’re working now to expand the program through Metro State University’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, with support from Dr. Richard Wagner, a science professor at the University. Together, Dr. Wagner and I have designed a new course called Community Climate Initiatives, which prepares Environmental Studies students to work on the Forums, empowering their climate science knowledge with image change strategies.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I’m a Disney teacher, which means I received an American Teacher Award from the Walt Disney Company in 1991. Incidentally, this prepared me for when my then 8 year old granddaughter, Lucy, danced in a professional production of the Nutcracker on the opera house stage in downtown Denver; I was a chaperone for her cast during 33 performances!
When I was 16 and 17 years old, I studied dance in New York City at the June Taylor School of Dance. Also, I have been doing Tai Chi since 1986.
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