Kurt-Masons selected as grand marshals for July 4 parade

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Mary and Lindsey Kurt-Mason

By JoAnn Laird | Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs

After more than 60 combined years of teaching in the Pagosa Springs school system, Lindsey and Mary Kurt-Mason are now retired. What a loss for this community, but what an impact they had.

With hundreds of deserving Pagosa Springs residents to choose from as Grand Marshals for the 4th of July Parade, the Kurt-Masons have set the bar high enriching the lives of thousands of students.

Here’s your chance to meet the Kurt-Masons, who always have a smile on their face and a positive “Let’s go conquer” attitude.

Before they met in Alaska and decided to cut their last names, Mary Kurt and Lindsey Mason had already begun their adventures in teaching. After earning a degree in environmental studies from Western Washington University, Lindsey taught K-12 environmental education in the Juneau School District. Mary received her degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education from Boston College and taught in the Navajo Nation before moving to Juneau as a special education teacher.

Lindsey and Mary (now Kurt-Mason) built a cabin, had two sons, and enjoyed traveling before moving from the humid northwest to the sunny southwest. Originally planning to move to Durango, they fell in love with Pagosa Springs, where each has dedicated more than three decades to education.

When he first moved to Pagosa and saw the weed-infested land behind the elementary school, Lindsey persuaded the principal, Henry Smith, to help him build sports fields there. Lindsey then started the Pagosa Sting Soccer Club, which he ran for many years before becoming the high school soccer coach for the boys’ and girls’ teams. Lindsey also coached the high school ski team to second place in the state.

Lindsey started teaching science classes in high school. After earning a master’s degree in health, physical education and exercise science, he was happy to receive a “promotion” to become an elementary school coach.

As Coach Kurt-Mason, Lindsey taught her elementary students the importance of “fitness for life” with boundless joy and energy. He understood that physical health is directly linked to emotional well-being and academic performance. Over the years, Lindsey has created many special programs for her students, including swimming, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, and a school-wide Olympic festival that takes place every four years. He could often be found on the roof of the school, in character as Captain America, leading the student body in exercises to help them prepare for the school day ahead. As a result of Lindsey’s commitment to physical health, Pagosa Springs Elementary School was named one of Colorado’s Healthy Schools and was featured as a “get it right” school in the movie “Let Them Play”.

Mary taught third and fifth grades from 1985 to 2004, beginning each year with an exciting theme to conclude the lessons. For example, when she traveled to the Virgin Islands, she brought back books, costumes, and artwork to share with her students. As a highlight of the year, her students wrote and performed a choral reading about the Caribbean, then danced a merengue in front of a Caribbean-inspired quilt they had designed. “Hot! Hot! Hot!” was one of 14 student-designed quilts that have been featured on national broadcasts, AQ Magazine, and displayed at the Colorado Capitol.

In 2004, Mary had the opportunity to create a class for students with significant support needs. She named her class the Special Talents Class and worked with parents, colleagues and the community to create an award-winning program focused on educating the “whole child.”

Like Lindsey, Mary knew that physical activity improved academic performance and emotional health. In addition to time spent on studies and career skills, Special Talents students have “walked” across America, mastered kayaking on the lake, hiked along the Piedra River, hiked the desert and experienced multi-day raft trips. With each challenging activity, students’ confidence and self-esteem increased, leading to more success in school.

The Special Talents program has been featured in films from Teachers Change Lives and People Magazine. In 2013, Mary received the Colorado Joe Todd Service Award and was named Teacher of the Year by People Magazine.

Since retiring, Mary has started Mesa Canyon Art with her fused glass work. She also teaches adaptive art to adults through the Pagosa Arts Initiative. Lindsey plans to coach boys soccer in the fall and provide ongoing elementary school support. Both plan to spend more time rafting, hiking and sharing adventures with their four grandchildren.

Due to continued construction on McCabe Creek/6th Street, the parade route has changed this year. The staging area will be on the vacant lot south of Bank of the San Juans on Hot Springs Boulevard. This will also be the check-in area at the registration desk, as well as the start and end of the parade. The parade will proceed north to the stop light, turning right onto Pagosa Street/US 160, right onto 2nd Street, right onto Hermosa and left onto Hot Springs Boulevard to return to the staging area.

This is your final reminder for those wishing to participate in the parade. Apps, maps and general information are now available at City Hall or at pagosasprings.co.gov. You can hand-deliver your application to City Hall or download, scan, and email it to [email protected] The deadline is Friday, July 1 at noon and entries will not be accepted after this deadline.

Going back to the Kurt-Masons, they led a life of adventure and creativity and will continue to do so in their retirement. The Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs has had the honor of appointing and granting the Grand Marshal of the 4th of July Parade for over 40 years. They arranged rides for Grand Marshals on carriages, convertibles, on horses, and even in airplanes. These Kurt-Masons adventurers have their own way of doing things. Get ready, Pagosa!

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