December Teachers of the Month!

We are excited to honor the three amazing teachers, Mr. Towles, Mr. Jefferey, and Ms. Nichols from Downtown Continuation High School as our December 2023 Teachers of the Month! They are being recognized for their passion, work ethic, and commitment to their students, school, and community. It is an honor to celebrate their dedication and contributions to education.


The MARS (Music and Academics Resisting the System) project at Downtown Continuation High School helps students who have never played an instrument before become musicians and form student-led bands. The students then study an important societal issue and write their own songs based on their project’s theme. The best part? They have three awesome teachers who are there to support them every step of the way on their academic and musical journeys.


Mr. Lee Towles

December Teachers of the Month!

Mr. Towles has been sharing his knowledge for over 15 years, and his easy-going, positive attitude creates a truly joyful classroom environment for all.

One colleague says, “Mr. Towles is so creative and always comes up with innovative ideas! He created four semesters worth of project-based curriculum, planned amazing lessons, and even took students on exciting field studies. He’s such a great teacher!”

Assisting new musicians in forming bands is one of of Mr. Towles’ specialties. The bands collaborate to create music addressing significant social justice concerns. Furthermore, Mr. Towles excels at fostering community through restorative circles and enjoyable team-building exercises. The cherry on top is that students can receive instruction on playing the piano, guitar, drums, or bass guitar.

Another colleague says, “This teacher is truly dedicated to our community and school. They consistently uphold our school’s values and work tirelessly with a challenging group of students. We are lucky to have them on our team!”


Mr. Tom Jeffrey

December Teachers of the Month!

Mr. Jeffrey is always willing to adjust his teaching style to fit his students’ needs. He’s so attentive and meets students where they are with joy and an enthusiasm for learning. 

One colleague says, “I remember when one student came in super tired, he slowed down and took them outside for a little one-on-one chat. It was so sweet and really showed how much he cares. That student was so much more willing to work with him (and me too!).”

The lessons of Mr. Jeffrey are created through a social justice perspective and address highly pertinent subjects, such as criminal justice, policing, and mass incarceration. He attentively pays attention to his students and their perspectives on their community, and embraces their input. Additionally, providing a forum for such topics promotes a more alert and secure community that serves to create positive change.

Mr. Jeffrey has a strong love for music, which is present in his classroom. He always incorporates music into his classes, making sure that it plays a vital role in his students’ education and development. He’s always eager to have a chat with his students about their favorite tunes, and he never fails to make it an enjoyable part of the curriculum. Mr. Jefferey is also responsible for putting together a music studio on campus for the students.

One colleague says, “Having the students physically clap out the rhythms makes the lesson stick more. It was a creative and kinesthetic way to make the lesson stick and I think it showed later when they were making rhythms. Students were actively clapping their rhythms to themselves and it was something positive to see.”


Ms. Laura Nichols

December Teachers of the Month!

Ms. Nichols is an amazing teacher who always supports and helps students with learning challenges in the classroom. She is incredibly patient and kind and knows just how to help when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Ms. Nichols has also taken on the role of a union representative and led professional development for the teaching staff on the topic of effective instruction.

One colleague says, “I have seen her sit with a student who was upset, listen, redirect them, and then help them start their work.  She also coaches drums and one of our student bands.”

In MARS, Ms. Nichols has introduced literacy circles and assisted general education teachers with tailoring their curriculum. She continually stresses the importance of challenging yourself and encourages those around her to provide relevant and individualized instruction. Her proficiency in literacy, mathematics, classroom management, and music has enhanced the quality of the project.

Thank you MARS teaching team for all that you do to support your students. We truly appreciate your passion for education. Congratulations on being selected as our Teachers of the Month for December 2023!